Monday, July 4, 2011

Is Cursive Writing Unnecessary?




By Kate Collins

Sometimes I’m embarrassed to be from Indiana. Take, for instance, our Supreme Court’s decision to ignore the Constitutional amendment that says citizens have the right to peaceably resist forceful police entry into their homes. Seriously!

Now the brilliant minds at the Indiana Department of Education have decided that cursive writing can be dispensed with. They said it’s a big waste of time when teachers need to devote their days to teaching to the tests, i.e., the ISTEPS.

Wait. What? Teach TO the tests? Isn’t that bass ackwards?

Keyboarding skills are more important anyway, the Powers That Be said.

I used to teach third grade and remember how eager my students were to learn how to “write like an adult.” It was a right of passage. Shouldn’t there be room for both cursive instruction and keyboarding skills, which most kids have learned way before third grade anyway? What first grader doesn’t know how to use a laptop or text?

Many historical documents are written in lovely script writing. Will they now have to be transferred into print so the next generation can read them? What’s next? Dispensing with math tables? I mean, why learn how to multiply when any number of computer devices can do it for you? Why learn history? If you need to know something that happened in, say, 1776, on July 4th, Google it.

Do you agree? Or do you think cursive should go?

Happy Fourth!

24 comments:

The Traveling Knitter said...

I am just wondering...How valid a signature will be.

Anonymous said...

Kate,

My nephews are 6 & 8 and writing cursive already. I was shocked when they wrote their names for me because I don't remember writing cursive when I was that young, even though mom said I did.

Do I think cursive is necessary? No. But I also don't think it should go all together. I believe you should "write" how you wish. It should be a choice as to whether you want to learn it or not. Some people are better at and more comfortable printing. Some are better at and more comfortable writing cursive. I wish handwriting was better. When I learned cursive, I was never really taught the correct way to hold a pen/pencil. I just hold it however it is comfortable for me, which is probably why my handwriting is so bad. And when I got older, I taught myself my own style of handwriting, which still doesn't look all that great.

Probably not the most popular opinions, but there you have it.

Marilyn said...

When my younger son (now 24) was being "forced" to learn cursive, he really resisted and said to me, "Mom. Think about it. What does it say at the top of every form you fill out? PLEASE PRINT." I'd never thought of it before, but he's right. Cursive's a little quicker if you need to write something out, but nine-tenths of everything now is done on a keyboard. So I guess I think it should be taught but not emphasized.

KateGladstone said...

Handwriting matters ... But does cursive matter?

Research shows: the fastest and most legible handwriters avoid cursive. They join only some letters, not all of them: making the easiest joins, skipping the rest, and using print-like shapes for those letters whose cursive and printed shapes disagree. Possibly relevant: very few countries outside the USA teach what the USA and Canada typically teach as a "cursive" way of writing. In the UK, Australia, and almost all other English-speaking nations, for instance, what is taught as "cursive" or "joined-up writing" is usually semi-joined and/or with print-like letter-shapes as described above.)

Reading cursive of any kind still matters -- this takes just 30 to 60 minutes to learn, and can be taught to a five- or six-year-old if the child knows how to read. The value of reading cursive is therefore no justification for writing it.

Remember, too: whatever your elementary school teacher may have been told by her elementary school teacher, cursive signatures have no special legal validity over signatures written in any other way. (Don't take my word for this: talk to any attorney.)


Kate Gladstone — CEO, Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works
Director, the World Handwriting Contest
Co-Designer, BETTER LETTERS handwriting trainer app for iPhone/iPad
http://www.HandwritingThatWorks.com

Sue said...

if they are going to say that keyboarding is more important, then is text-lingo going to take the place of spelling????? I couldn't wait to learn to write cursive when I was in school. I broke my arm right before going into school so I had to learn to print with my left hand instead of my right. Not very good I might add, but when I got to third grade and got to write in cursive, I knew I had accomplished something big. We moved from one city to another in the same state when my 14 yr old was in 3rd grade. In her previous school they had taught her a new way of printing so that she could transfer to cursive much easier. When we got to the city we live in now she had to relearn how to print the "old" way. To this day her cursive looks like a dr's script and she hates to write in cursive. It's such a shame. I will continue to use cursive writing and if in years to come no one can read it then I guess it's their problem.

Andrea C. said...

I have to say that I am a high school English teacher and pretty much none of my students write in cursive anymore. In fact, few of the adults I know (including myself) use it except to sign their name. Now, I certainly learned how and can do it, but I tend to print more for legibility reasons. I see your point though Kate, I am not so sure that students shouldn't learn it all anymore. Hmmmm...

Mary said...

Yeah, what Andrea C. said. I teach middle school & I'd say 99% of my students can't write in cursive, much less read it. *sigh* While I'm not sure it needs to be a standard in school, I still believe kids should be exposed to it and at least learn the basics. Plus, what is going to happen to signatures?

Vicki said...

I teach 4th grade and I do teach cursive, although I know that several other 4th grade teachers I teach with don't necessarily finish the book we use because of state testing pressures. I always complete the workbook we're given with the kids, and after Christmas, write at least my morning message in cursive on the board to help teach them to read cursive. Even though cursive isn't a tested concept, or may not be necessary for them to complete papers in middle school, I don't want them to look back later to elementary school and say "why wasn't this taught to me?" Older grades are certainly not going to take the time to teach it, so I feel like it's "now or never". Many kids really do very well at cursive, and enjoy using it even when it's not required. But I feel like it's learning to read clocks: so many kids are used to reading digital clocks and have such a hard time with analog clocks. Does that mean we shouldn't teach that since digital is always available? I don't think so...when else are they going to learn it? Just a teacher's two cents :)

Kate Collins said...

What a great discussion! I, too, use a combination of cursive and print when I take notes, make lists, etc., but always use cursive when writing a thank you, for instance. I agree that everyone should use what feels comfortable, but eliminating subjects to "teach to testing" doesn't seem right. Expose students to cursive and then let them decide what to use. At least they'll be able to read it.

Aurian said...

Do do they also mean to stop teaching how to write at all? I still write a lot at the office. I admit I use both type of letters in one word. And it does look better on a note or something than printed letters.

ev said...

No wonder this country's educational system is in the toilet.

Debra said...

So can I call my third grade teacher (Sister somebody, don't remember her name) and tell her I want that time back? Because in Catholic school we were actually graded on our cursive writing. Actually, I finished mine quickly and snuck a quick look at my Nancy Drew book.

Judy Alter said...

LOL, Kate. If you're embarrassed by Indiana, try moving to Texas! Apparently from the state budget cuts, we're not going to teach much of anything.
But seriously my kids were all taught cursive. Today in their 30s and 40s, you can't even read my son's signatures, let alone writing. The girls write a much better hand. I hate to let it go. Yes, I think it should be taught.

Gayle Carline said...

If they don't teach cursive, how are all those Someday-Famous-People going to know how to sign their autographs? I know it helped me develop my signature, up through the little flower on the last "s" and star over the "i".

Gayle (Richards) Carline

Kate Collins said...

Kate Gladstone, your insight is helpful and enlightening. I appreciate your input.
Thanks, everyone, for joining in the discussion. It's great to gather different viewpoints. Helps to make a more educated choice.

Griperang/Angela said...

In this lovely state of Florida they also teach to tests ours are the FCAT. They have to pass these to pass their grade and for the school to succeed. I agree with you on the cursive it should still be taught. I have two teenagers and they both have a hard time reading cursive as they were not taught to use it everyday. My son is now in college and in the schools he went it was never enforced to use cursive. I know when I went to school we had to use it or got points taken off of our grade. My son had been to school in Iowa, Nebraska and Florida and I think Iowa was the only one he had to use cursive in and that was K-3 that he went there. I agree with what someone else said how is your signature valid if not done in cursive as anyone can copy your printing.

Anonymous said...

Handwriting definitely matters, I have my daughter trace cursive letters now because I want her to learn to write beautifully first and foremost, keyboarding later.

Barbara said...

I'm appalled when I see young people who can't even hold a pen correctly; no wonder they can't write. There is still a time and place for cursive writing that flows and looks pretty. You can call me old-fashioned - I'm old and I don't care if you think I'm old-fashioned. :)

Rachelle21 said...

I agree that most forms ask you to print. When they pass a list at meetings and ask for people to print their names, I notice that many use cursive. When we do registration recently for an event that requires printing and cursive - I believe I only had one adult who could not sign his name. The younger children all printed as some had not been taught cursive yet.
I took notes in class in cursive and re-wrote them as that is the way I memorize.

Heather said...

Kate, I agree with you that kids should at least be exposed to it, and then allowed to write the way they feel most comfortable. My personal writing is a combination, though leaning more towards cursive than print.

Vickie said...

I do hope Lady K's school doesn't do away with cursive writing. She is highly excited about learning to write like Mommie and Daddy.

Linda McDonald said...

I have very fond memories of 3rd grade, and very clear memories of learning how to write in cursive. My best friend and I loved taking out our paper and practicing letters over and over again. How sad to think that they think it is no longer needed.

jmshort1 said...

Being able to write is a part of a classic eduction and being a man or women of letters. If you can't write and only print, then you are not educated no matter what your sheep skin on the wall might read. You have been cheated by the educators of our society. What a shame how our society has become less educated and more of a herd of mindless keystroke professionals

Michelle said...

Yes, to cursive! I can't believe that some of the comments say that the students can't write in cursive. Although my dad who is 85always prints. Not sure why.

I would hope that students still have to write out answers to questions (such as in History class, etc.). Cursive is a standard part of education and people need to know it or they'll seem uneducated. Hopefully kids aren't given computers in school in kindergarten and just using them. They need to know how to write. Some people still have pen pals and I'd hope that they'd use cursive.

I did read in the paper once about stuff the younger generation or the "millenials" won't know about and it did say something about not using cursive. Can't believe it.