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Is Cursive Handwriting Necessary?

Schools are spending less time than ever teaching the art of cursive handwriting, especially as more time is devoted to typing in the early grades. On the 2007 SAT essay questions, only 15% of college-bound students used cursive writing. The rest wrote in print. Some teachers argue that writing in script helps hand-eye coordination, even though average legibility peaks around 4th grade.
Text messaging, e-mail, and word processing have replaced handwriting outside the classroom, said Cheryl Jeffers, a professor at Marshall University's College of Education and Human Services, and she worries they'll replace it entirely before long.

"I am not sure students have a sense of any reason why they should vest their time and effort in writing a message out manually when it can be sent electronically in seconds."

For Jeffers, cursive writing is a lifelong skill, one she fears could become lost to the culture, making many historic records hard to decipher and robbing people of "a gift."

What do you think? Is it important for children to learn cursive, or should it go the way of the dinosaur? Link -via Digg

(image credit: AP/Bob Bird)

"making many historic records hard to decipher"

Really? That's what she's afraid of? I'm sure there will be plenty of "cursive experts" (or wikipedia) in the future to help us "decipher" this difficult script.

I have a fondness for handwritten things and I hope that writing by hand will stay alive at least as a hobby or a craft. But I was never good at cursive and I don't think it needs to be taught in schools anymore than hand sewing (which is actually a lot more practical than cursive, now that I think about it) does. If the parents have an interest in antiquated skills, by all means. But the emphasis for kids should be on where the future is going and the skills they'll need as adults, so despite any sad feelings about the death of handwritten script, the focus for them should be on typing and computer literacy.
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Cursive does look more elegant, but it takes me slightly longer to write in it, so for note-taking I print. However, whenever I write in French, I always use cursive, never print. Maybe a more elegant script for a more elegant language?
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Cursive writing was necessary when people wrote with fountain pens (or before that, quills) because printing would tap out the ink out of the pen (or quill) and make a mess on the page. With the invention of the ballpoint pen cursive became unneccesary. It may be pretty and so on, but the original purpose no longer applies.
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I just find that, while cursive looks a little nicer to the AVERAGE print type, the amount of time it takes to read through completely destroys any reason to use cursive in the first place. (i.e. its supposed to look nice, but instead its just so annoying to read that it actually detracts from the message)

I always was able to write in print form way faster than using cursive anyways
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I think cursive should be handled like latin is. It is pretty useless generally. But someone still might want to know it for an artistic use. It would make a good elective of some sort. A whole class devoted to "The art of writing" would be pretty cool in my opinion and I would attend it.
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It's handy to be able to write a dedication to the folks who come to your book signings -- when people look at my copies of my daughter's books and read her lovely messages to me, they always comment on her beautiful handwriting. It sets you apart as an individual, it's part of your personna! It's something to be cultivated to emphasize your uniqueness, an integral accessory, if you will, to a person's personality. Handwriting analysis, after all, is a valuable tool -- for criminologists, psychologists, etc. -- it's considered a science.
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Even though we can now sign documents electronically,the need to sign a legal document in cursive will likely never go away.Cursive is also nice for letters and notes,to others,of a personal nature,if you know the recipient can read your handwriting.In school,we were taught that cursive flows easier and quicker;but alas,I look at my notepad and I see that I always print my notes.As for historical documents,have you ever tried to read documentation from prior to the 19th century?Just as spelling,grammar,and syntax has changed over the previous centuries of written language,so they will change over the next 150-200 years,making the written (and typed) word difficult to read and understand.
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I think all kids should learn the basics without the use of any electronic tools. That includes cursive writing, spelling, proper use of grammar, and arithmetic. Without the basics how can you master the more advanced technology. Of course, as I was typing this, the spell checker corrected a couple of my words. So what, I'm not perfect. I learned the basics , not mastered them.
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I love cursive writing and find that I can take notes in it much more neatly and quickly than regular print. However, I am not a common example and while I will certainly miss having it in schools, I will teach my kids the art.
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Cursive itself isn't a necessity in a life without electronics. Cursive is about style and formality, which is now conveyed in type. Cursive has essentially been replaced with a new technology.

As long as everyone has an understanding of the basics - in this case, block printing, then life should be allowed to carry on.

It's little different than loosing the art of calligraphy. There will always be a sufficient number of experts who wish to carry on an old style.
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I was thinking that calligraphy is similar to different fancy electronic fonts. Most types of fonts we can still read the difference and some are so fancy that it's complicated. But one is handwritten, the other is typed. Although I write mainly in cursive, I can see how it isn't a basic that needs to be taught in schools. But the only thing I think cursive would be used for these days are signatures.
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I never learned how to calculate a square root by hand and instead spent time on problem solving skills - and I did better in mathematics because of those better priorities. In the same way, our students would be better served spending more time on keyboarding and dropping cursive.

Holding onto outdated skills is a big reason for the mile wide, inch deep curriculum problems we have in the U.S. Though the cursive debate seems like a relatively minor issue, it points to the very real problem we educators face when material and requirements are added without taking any away.
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I was never taught cursive in school, I had to teach it to myself. Honestly it comes in handy pretty frequently, and also I enjoy writing in calligraphy with a special pen, it impresses people and is invaluable to my art. But fact of the matter is that I'm old fashioned, I enjoy learning how to do stuff that you don't really need to know how to do anymore, and it makes me feel better than other people. I'm also pretty artistic and creative, most people aren't artistic, creative, or old-fashioned, so they don't really need to know it. I didn't even get taught cursive, I learned it on my own prerogative. There's no reason to know how to drive a manual transmission anymore either, but it makes me feel better that I do.
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Cursive is a joke. Except for personalized signatures and company logos, who needs it? During my Dad's Naval career he at sometime was in charge of writing down the Captain's log on the bridge. Of course he had to print to make it legible for everyone. I learned to print everything I write by hand because most forms require it and there is no hassle about my handwriting. In this age where most everything is typed cursive skills should be pushed aside in lower grades and replaced with typing class. Hold off until high school or college when it can be taught as part of an art class.
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I've been teaching English in Japan for several years and find that many students really enjoy learning cursive. It's something they don't see to often and makes the learning of the language a bit more fun. Writing the alphabet out in cursive helps the kids remember the letters and order in a new way.
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I say good riddance to cursive.

Then again I am a bit jaded since not only was I forced to write in cursive but I was also forced to write right handed.

I remember enrolling my oldest son in a Catholic school and when I put down my signature I was told that they needed a real signature. I looked the woman in the eye and said that is as real as my signature gets and its good enough for the state. I should have taken my son out of the school right there and then, sadly I made him suffer through two years of that crap.
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Teach them their name and be done with it. Well I dont even write my name in a legible fashion anyways so I guess they are screwed there anyways. A signature is only used to identify the person better because if done over and over it becomes a unique writing.

If I wrote my signature here no one would be able to read my name except for maybe the first and second letter in my first name and maybe the first and 2 middle letters in my last name. It is very fast to write and looks very much the same every time.

I was the generation that was do we teach them or not. I think I had 1 year of teaching then it went downhill fast. I never use it and it takes forever to use. Most of the time I cannot even read someone else writing in it.
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I'm surprised at all the non-love for cursive writing. A lot of us prefer to write in cursive. It's got personality and it's an art.

Should we stop teaching art and music because it's hard to make a living doing those things?

Should we stop teaching math because calculators are cheap?

Should we eliminate everything that doesn't require electricity because "it's old-fashioned"?
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Cursive is pretty much obsolete already. When I learned it in elementary school the teachers would say, "When you get to high school your teachers will only accept assignments in cursive." By the time I got to high school no one gave a damn about cursive, and while I was in college professors started requiring most assignments be printed out with a computer. I can see where some people find good cursive appealing for aesthetic and nostalgic reasons (not that I ever knew many people who were good at it), but its practical uses have been vanishingly few for a decade or two already.
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i dont think any of us are hating on cursive. well maybe a few. but none of us are damning it to hell. its just the evolution of language and technology, cursive is outdated and no longer used by the general populace. as has been mentioned, teach it as an elective. do not require it. music and art can help us all in many aspects of our life. cursive can help us write nicely. its obsolete and no one anywhere will suffer at all from it being relegated to a non-required status.
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I recently tested myself to see if I could write a paragraph in cursive, and I can't remember how to write my b, v, z, D, F, G, J, X, or Z. I think it should go away, for it gets in the way of immigrants being able to effectively communicate in this country. But then I wish we could better promote the ideas of the Simplified Spelling Board from the early 20th century, who promoted the usage of "lite", "nite", "tho", and other shortened easy-spellings of common words. Through both the process of eliminating cursive handwriting and simplifying words, it could make communicating with immigrant populations in the United States much easier.
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Cursive righthanded drawed script was developed because of the use of a certain pen in combination with the need to write as fast as possible while keeping things more or less decipherable and clean.

When other kinds of pens and the timewriter and its successors came into existance, the nead for cursive dissapeared.

I myself write in a variation of Karolingian minuscule because in my youth the teachers found out my right hand was not able to handle fluent cursive, so after years of trying and punishment they finally gave up and some bright spirit tried Karolingian with me- No problems with writing since then, both righthanded and lefthanded, normal or in mirror.

People should be able to write by hand. They should be able to do that about as fast as with keyboard and they should be able to write in such a way that others can still read it easily. But how they do that is by now completely irrelevant- Cursive or loose characters, that does not matter anymore- Any official text nowadays can be written down in any font that is desirable- even in prefab "hand-written" cursive font that you take from a ready set or that you compose yourself.

I like Irish fonts and Gothic fonts.
Cursive? Only if lots of curls and adornments are added.

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Okay ... Not tiMewriter but tiPewriter and not nead but need--- Longlive a functioning grammar-and-spelling-control-button...

That is a next thing why people should learn to handf-write- Once it is put on paper, to much corrections makes stuff unreadable.... ;-)
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I don't remember it taking very long to learn cursive. In fact I could write in cursive much better than I could print. Despite the advances of technology we do still need to be able to write quickly and legibly. I often jot down ideas on a note pad rather than type because you can place ideas on a piece of paper and rearrange (with arrows everywhere!) them as the work takes place.

Computers have their place but so does hand writing.
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Now I know I am writing from the other side of the pond, but I believe joined up handwriting is not only very important but hugely demonstrative of ones character. Post it notes will never go away, notes to friends and family will always be scribbled on the back of envelopes, and letters following Christmas will always be mailed.

Not teaching children the art of being understood in written form is sacrilegious, pen and ink will never go away, and those that choose not to use it are - well - I won't use the term short sighted, but thick certainly comes to mind.
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As a child, I couldn't wait to learn cursive, but was forced to learn D'Nealian in school which in my mind was boring and ugly. I was hoping to learn an elegant handwriting, like my parents. Fast-forward to college when I started taking Russian. I had been printing since 6th grade because the cursive looked so bad. In Russian we were forced to learn and write Russian Cursive and I found that my American handwriting became much more fluid with the Slavic influence. My handwriting now looks a lot like this Wikipedia example but with the English Alphabet. I found it easy to learn, easy to write quickly, looks great on the page, and has made my left-handedness a non-issue.

I don't know about others, but I only started cursive again as an adult when it looked better than my print. Maybe we should take a page from the Russians and focus on teaching decent handwriting rather than dumbing-down versions of older handwriting, after all the pen is "an elegant weapon for a more civilized age."
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What all have failed to mention is the use cursive has today: it is an art. As such, it opens up pathways in the brain between left and right brain activities (basic symbology and the artistic).
Why do they have you learn Geography? Why are you taught Shakespeare? Why do you need to learn science? Not just as a set of job skills for the future, because, I know that I haven't used too much Shakespeare when filling out taxes, or math in being a delivery driver. No, the use of such things is to open the mind of the student in order that they can learn. And not just to learn the subject, but in order to expand the mind.
Why keep Cursive when we don't like it? For the same reason we pay the electric bill: because we need what it provides for us.

And by the way, tiPewriter? It is spelled "Typewriter" based on typing. If you're going to correct grammar, do it properly.

- An English Teacher
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Not only is cursive writing going the way of the dinosaur in this country.. so is PRINTING. I have a 10 year old son whose print is atrocious. He's very bright, but if you just looked at his handwriting and didn't read what he wrote, it looks as though it was scrawled by a 2nd grader. I'm concerned.. but every year, I get the same thing form his teachers, THEY can read it and it won't matter soon anyway. As they see it, everyone will be doing everything on computers anyway.. so what's the point of stressing it to their students. They aren't even teaching cursive in his school. They don't see it as important. I do... and over the summer, I taught him the basics. His cursive is much more legible than his print, and that is how he is wri9ting in school this year. The art of handwriting is VERY IMPORTANT. There will always be a need for you to write something down or sign something.. no matter how paperless our society gets. It is a travesty that children nowadays don't know the basics anymore... all of this is leading to the DUMBING DOWN of society as a whole.
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If you print faster than you can write in cursive, then you're not skilled enough in cursive to take full advantage of the speed and efficiency of cursive.

With a little practice, and by allowing the hand to become natural and flowing rather than trying to adhere to the rigid, awkward movements of d'nealian et al, cursive writing will become so fast as to make printing letters seem like an enormous waste of time.
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Thx mr English Teacher- I overlooked that one - Well, I must admit, my foreign (from most likely your standpoint at least) language hand-writing skills outdo my English even on keyboard by far. ;-)

...And look what I wrote as a last sentence of my first entry...? "Cursive? Only if lots of curls and adornments are added."

...By now I understand that I then thread the domain of Calligraphy and that my both brainhalves communicate in overdrive...

...So wrote I at home on my Padd in Karolingian minuscule... :-)
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I think there should be a compromise between teaching it thoroughly and doing away with it completely. There is still enough communication done in cursive handwriting that I'd hate to see cursive become completely foreign to kids. I'd hate to see grandma's birthday cards, or hand-written personal checks, or hand-written memos from the boss, or margin jotted revisions and such seem unreadable. However, as cursive (and hand writing in general) are quickly being phased out by type, I don't like the idea of wasting too much class time on it. Pick a year, say 3rd or 4th grade maybe, and have that and spend a few weeks that year covering reading and writing cursive and be done with it.

I'd rather students spend more time learning grammar,vocabulary,spelling, typing, or even some useful words in another language (Spanish maybe?) than practicing penmanship. In this era, beautiful writing isn't important. If it's important enough to need to use your nice penmanship, you should really be typing it. You still need legible writing so that if you have to jot down a note by hand it's reasonably understandable, but not much more.

When people used to do most everything handwritten it mattered. When all of your business letters,legal papers, and other writings of importance were handwritten,it made a real impact whether your penmanship was professional or not. These days, with pretty much any writing of any importance, handwriting, either print or cursive is already fairly unprofessional no matter how pretty your writing is.
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I think cursive writing is very important, even with the advancing technology. It horrifies me that my younger sister (who is 15) was not taught as thoroughly as I was (10 years ago) in elementary school how to write. I'll be teaching my future children cursive handwriting, even if the schools likely won't be.
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it's called progression, evolution people, get with the program. we used to write a letter and wait 2 days for it to get across the state, now we just click send and it's there within seconds. those who waste time trying to teach in cursive is like those trying to write a story by painting caves. it was good while it lasted, but like all things, something better and easier will soon replace it. next progression is that all you will just absorb my thoughts, no writing needed.
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I used to use cursive for my signature, but now it's just a quick scrawl. There's no point in me being neat about it. I might as well use a big X instead and in the US... you /can/. So, beyond an excuse to use cursive what's the point of a signature anyway? If all we really use cursive for is our signatures, we need a better option than cursive.
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I dont use cursive that much (i did in college as it was quicker to take lecture notes with than print).

BUT I'd say it's still necessary I was reading a few years back (4 or 5 or so). An article that said as a whole people are losing individual writing styles BECAUSE nobody (nobody as in younger generation, those who are students now), WRITES by hand. it's all email/typing up things/texting etc.

Hell I have friends in college now that are only a couple years younger than me and they've all bought laptops to take notes on as oppose to just writing them down. (and when i was in college only 3 years ago NO ONE in my class used laptops to take down notes. maybe just my class but who knows).

I dunno, kind of eerie to think that one of the things that gives us individuality is going by the wayside because of technology.
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I am of the opinion that it can't hurt to learn cursive. I am writing this obviously with my computer, but when I journal or just sit down with pencil and paper I am happy that I know how to manually write. The kids really don't need to learn Math either since the computer can take care of it. Shoot, at the fast food places they just punch in the button with the correct name or picture on it. It is not that I am against technology, I love it. However, knowing how to do things on your own and being able to read the primary documents that are written in different script cannot and should not become a lost art. I don't want to raise sheep.
The History Man
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We can't assume that the digital age will be with us forever. Email and texting depend on the widespread availability of computers, laptops, blackberries, cellphones, and electricity, which in turn depend on the easy availability of cheap oil (for extracting, refining, tooling, and manufacturing the parts needed to make these ever-more complicated electronics). Pen and ink will always be with us, but with peak oil upon us, it's hard to say whether digital technology will still be around 500 years from now. Cursive may well make a comeback.

Anyway, cursive and text messaging aren't either/or. To use an analogy, it may be more convenient 95% of the time to drive a car, but it's also nice to know how to walk for occasions when the car isn't practical or available.

I firmly believe there's still value in teaching cursive writing. It helps kids with spelling, discipline, high-order thinking, and organizational skills. It gets them to engage with individiual letters and the act of writing in a more adult way. It teaches kids that it's possible to turn a ho-hum, pedestrian activity into something beautiful through daily practice and conscious craft.

Besides, without cursive, how are kids of the future going to forge excuse notes from their parents?
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I love to write things out by hand. I don't think it hurts kids to teach them to learn cursive. Yes, most communication occurs electronically but if you work in an archive like me you realize that learning to write in cursive helps you to read it too. Students come in all the time to use correspondence written during the eighteenth and early nineteenth century and they cannot even read it. How are you going to research papers for history classes in college if you can't even read the primary documents? And no, not everything can be found online!
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We're talking about widening the divide between the social classes.
If public school does away with cursive, private schools will not.Imagine high school graduates will be unable to understand hallmark cards, certain advertisements and fonts.
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Writing by hand has always really hurt my wrist, I can't do more than sign a few Christmas cards, without having to take a break. Needless to say being forced to write everything by hand in cursive or not in school was torture. My handwriting never improved either, it's still chicken scratch.

Obviously that doesn't apply to everyone, but why not just teach kids to right legibly and be done with it?
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CommentKiller @ #9: "Even though we can now sign documents electronically,the need to sign a legal document in cursive will likely never go away."

What is this "need" to which you refer? My signature is not in cursive and I have executed many legal documents over two decades. Cursive is not necessary.
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Cursive has it's place and I think it should still be taught in schools. I learned cursive but I never use it-even my signature is nothing but a big loop and then some lumpy scribbles after that. I work as a cashier while going to school and it drives me crazy when people stand there carefully scripting out their signature.

You can't really compare a math skill set to cursive writing, either. Some people here were doing that and it just isn't comparable. Even if you have a calculator, you still need to know HOW to calculate. If someone says Add two plus two and you don't know what an Add sign looks like, you're screwed. If someone says what is 26% of 500, you are totally screwed. I know because I am terrible at math and all the calculators or computers in the world couldn't help me through math problems in calculus.
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more cowbell @ #46, "It helps kids with spelling, discipline, high-order thinking, and organizational skills"

Citation needed. It is not intrinsically obvious that cursive encourages this any more than any other course focused on handwriting would.

As for the joke about not being able to forge notes from their parents, obviously if there parents are not using cursive either then there is no issue. Neither my wife or I use cursive.
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Given the increase in voice activated devices, one could also argue that literacy is not really in the future, either.
Spelling is going (I'm a copyeditor), and I've seen heaps of text messages that have as few vowels as Hebrew or Arabic. The ability to sew, hunt, or make shoes has long been unnecessary, and frankly, who REALLY needs to cook?
On the other hand, these skills were evolved over a long period of time, and engaging in these activities connects us to the past. The past matters, because it is out of the past that the present has come, and from which the future will emerge.

I love a lot of new technology, and am forever fiddling with, and tweaking my computers. But I'm glad I can write in cursive, too; it connects me to those who came before me, and may be read by those who are around a long way in the future. I may be more acutely aware of the vacuum that one is likely to experience, sooner or later, if one has no real connection to the past (it comes in those moments of silence, when the TV/radio/etc. is off, and you can actually hear your own thoughts), because I was born in a quite young country, but grew up in a couple of very old ones, and have travelled my entire life; I have no particular sense of a place or history that is 'mine'.

Then again, I believe that ethics and being able to structure a cohesive argument should be taught at school too, so I know I'm in the minority ;)
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If I recall myself correctly, cursive was taught for a few days in 2nd grade or so, and then we just wrote all the assignments in cursive. My printing is still faster, but I can still write in cursive. My signature has yet to get that adult illegibility, though, haha.

So, I think just enough to get the basics down is fine enough. I mean, it can't hurt, and it would help when reading certain fonts or older documents.

Someone upthread said that their writing in Cyrillic made their English writing better; for me, when I full integrated kana into my brain, it got that sort of round, slightly messy look that my English handwriting gets. I still try to balance my kanji, but they also show the characteristics of my English hand writing.
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I'm 24, and I love cursive, I keep making changes to my writing to make it more elegant. Also, suprisingly relaxing especially during finals time. As a reenactor, I have to use cursive because otherwise you get big blots of ink on the paper, and I have to use a glass pen, so handwriting becomes a practiced art. In a final note on cursive, Jen of the blog Cake Wrecks has what I consider to be an amazing (and hilarious) argument for the continuation of cursive. If nothing else, it will make you laugh.
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Interesting point of views! My teenagers don't know how to write in cursive and aren't interested in learning. They feel it is pointless, and in reality, I don't know that it is essential anymore. But I feel a bit bereft that kids aren't learning how to write in cursive. Personally I find that I can write much faster in cursive than if I print. Perhaps it was that 2 months we spent learning how to do it in second grade.
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20 years ago, when I was in elementary school, every student was taught cursive, and out handwriting was graded on our report cards. As a leftie who was taught to write exclusively by right-handed people, my print handwriting was never wonderful, but my cursive was simply atrocious. I would take three times as long to write something (trying desperately to make it neat) as my peers would take, and it would still be practically unreadable. I was a straight A student in other subjects, so my teachers took pity on me and fluffed my handwriting grades up to Cs.

By the time I got to middle school, I was frustrated and angry about the emphasis on cursive. I used it only when teachers insisted on it (for final drafts of essays and the like). In high school, I faced the same situation, but a few of my teachers decided to save themselves some eye strain and eased the cursive rule.

When I was on college, and finally had regular computer and printer access, the weight of a decade of difficult penmanship was finally lifted from my shoulders. I never looked back.

I still do a lot of writing by hand, finding it easier to create first drafts with pen and paper while sitting outside than indoors, parked in front of a computer screen. There are a few cursive characters scattered in those pages, but they are few and far between. When I'm writing by hand, what matters to me is the words themselves. I was never able to adequately create the art known as cursive writing, so it never became important to me... except as something to be avoided.

Is it a valuable skill worth preserving? NO. We should be teaching children that what they have to say is far more important than the method by which those thoughts meet paper. There's far too much emphasis on appearances over content in this world as it is. Spending time teaching students an artistic method of penmanship that could be spent putting truly valuable ideas and skills in their heads is as bad as my cursive handwriting... horrible.
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As a teacher, I see students everyday who don't even know that a signature is supposed to be cursive! It's ridiculous. Cursive is intended to make writing easier; you don't have to lift your pen from the page. I don't understand why everyone thinks it's so darn difficult. It's not artistic, it has a purpose. I personally mix a few print letters in with my cursive, but it is always legible.
I don't care if students are using more and more electronic media, there are times when you have to write things down by hand, and it needs to be legible, and not take 20 minutes. For instance, in the public school I teach at, students don't have laptops to take notes on, they have to write them down. It takes forever. If that time had been spent in earlier grades to teach them to write legibly quickly (such as not having to lift your pen from the page) then they would have more time now to put "valuable ideas and skills in their heads."
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Part of the situation is due to an ambiguity in "cursive". It can mean either any fast-written script, or a particular formal style of writing. We really could do with disambiguating cursives defined by joins, and those defined by letter form. For instance, my handwriting on an informal note uses (mostly) "print" letter forms, but joins them up. To a calligrapher, it's a cursive (quick and scruffy). To someone for whom "cursive" is the neat handwriting your teachers tried to drum into you, it's print. In many cases "cursive" in the second use is coming to mean a book-hand, a script reserved for formal documents, the exact opposite of the original meaning.

And no, I don't think second meaning "cursive" documents will become indecipherable, although it may require practice to get your eye in, rather like reading most historical hands does nowadays.
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@SLBuckland: I'm lefthanded too, and am possibly the only leftie I know whose cursive is highly legible, but I was lucky: one day, shortly after I began learning to write (this was in Italy, when I was in my first months of first grade, and they ONLY taught kids to write cursive; print was for books), my dad noticed that I was making a mess of things. Not surprising, since as a leftie, I was pushing the pen along, and my hand obscured what I wrote, making things like consistency nearly impossible.

He said 'Stop', leaned forward, and turned the page on which I was writing nearly 90 degrees clockwise, so it was nearly horizontal. Then he said, 'Try that', and coached me, so I wrote my hand 'underneath' (actually to the left of) the writing.
End of problem.

I don't understand why all the handwriting coaches that my classmates had never seemed to think of this; when I suggested it, other kids (and their parents) dismissed the idea, saying 'it looked weird', and that they should stick with just practicing a lot (which they hated, naturally; nobody enjoys being forced to repeat their failures ad nauseum). But rotating the page makes perfect sense, works pretty much from the word go, and requires next to no time to explain.

Works for printing, too.

So, I have to admit, I still think it is a good idea to learn to write in cursive. It only takes week or so to learn. Besides, with a teacher who pays attention and knows what he or she is doing, it provides an excellent opportunity to note coordination problems, since a complete inability to write legibly (in either print or cursive) might indicate an issue that is most successfully tackled early on.
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I have never seen the point of writing in cursive, mainly because my fellow students, starting around 3rd grade, were barely legible as it was. Cursive writing didn't exactly help. I, myself, print almost all of the time, and can no longer remember how to write a cursive f, q, or z.

As far as writing itself goes, I personally hope that real writing is never entirely replaced by typing. Someone is bound to jump on me for this, but has anyone read "Going Postal" by Terry Pratchett? Moist's speech about real letters versus the clacks? Think about it.
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Most of you seem to have forgotten the much maligned blue-book. Have you ever tried reading the essays of a twenty-year-old who has the messy handwriting of a six-year-old? It's excrutiating. Moreover, I noticed that students with good penmanship also had a better command of English syntax and style, as well as the material. This is, I might add, equally in evidence above. Those advocating the abolishment of cursive have generally done so without the assistance of grammar, logic, or information. There is much to be said for having a firm grasp of the basics, and this seems to include the coordination and care imposed by penmanship. In answer to Summer Anne, there are already experts to decipher old hand-writing (something written 200 or more years ago is illegible to the modern eye): they are called paleographers. It takes well over a year of intensive study to acquire the basics for a given period, so it is emphatically not something that can be handled by Wikipedia. Mjx, so that you may eat and wear shoes, someone does, in fact, still need to know how to cook and make shoes. They don't make themselves. Foreigner1 as modern, Western letter forms are based on Carolingian bookhands, *everyone's* handwriting (print and cursive) is based on a modified Carolingian.
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I love cursive, and when taking notes for myself, cursive is the easiest, fastest, and best way to write.

It has an added bonus here in Japan if I don't want anyone else to decipher what I'm writing, for whatever reason. Since the norms for teaching English here are extremely inflexible, cursive has been absolutely baffling and unreadable for all of the natives I've come across, because they never encounter it.

Moreover, since the writing is so continuous, I find cursive reduces excessive self-censorship, which starts to creep up whenever I stop to think about what I'm writing, which tends to coincide with the times that my pen leaves the paper. When perfectionism creeps up and reduces my ability to put out any sort of product, cursive is the best solution, since the focused, continuous act of physically writing stops me from going back and second-guessing. It's too easy to just mash the delete button if I'm using a computer and judge something to be inadequate, which is definitely hard for productivity--not to mention that typing is absolutely effortless. Much more difficult to crumple up and throw away that paper that I just spent pouring physical and mental energy onto. It gets the ideas out of my head and keeps them visible.
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David Lawrence: "As for the joke about not being able to forge notes from their parents, obviously if there parents are not using cursive either then there is no issue. Neither my wife or I use cursive."

Somehow, that doesn't surprise me.
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@ David Lawrence "Citation needed. It is not intrinsically obvious that cursive encourages this any more than any other course focused on handwriting would."

Fine. Here you go:

Shadmir, R. and Holcomb, H. (1997) Neural correlates of motor memory consolidation. Science Magazine, vol. 277.

Babcock, M.K. and Freyd, J.J. (1988) Perception of dynamic information in static handwritten forms. American Journal of Psychology, Spring, vol 101.

These two studies show that physically linking letters together gets students to think at the word-sentence level, rather than the individual letter level, thus increasing the speed with which thoughts can be put to paper.

Steve Graham at Vanderbilt University has done a number of studies on the positive effects of cursive handwriting on cognitive skills. In one study, 1st graders in Prince George's County who could write 10 - 12 letters a minute were given 15 minutes of instruction in cursive 3 times a week. After 9 weeks, they doubled their writing speed and their expressed thoughts were more complex. Graham also found improvements in their sentence construction skills.

Also see Carpenter, 2007; Tueling & Romero (Applied Submovement Analysis To Show The Learning Effects of Continuous Movement Patterns, 1997); Early, 1976; and Ochsner, 1990 (Physical Eloquence and the Biology of Writing) for evidence that cursive develops fine motor skills and written fluency at a faster rate than printing.

Not everybody will continue to use cursive in their adult life, but there's still value in teaching it.
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Wow, I didn't realize this topic was such a big deal. I've never thought about it until I had kids. My daughter is in the fifth grade now, and is still printing. I thought that was weird, so I started asking around a little bit, and they've taken handwriting out of their curriculum entirely.

I'm a southpaw. For some reason, I have a fantastic handwriting. Same with my sister. I get comments all the time on my handwriting. I remember the schools just DRILLING it into our heads in the fourth grade! My fourth grade handwriting teacher was a mean old witch and I still can't stand her. She used to single me out in front of the class because I was left-handed and "turned my paper the wrong way." DUH!!!

Now my son is getting a lot of grief at school over his handwriting. Poor kid is in second grade, and yes, his print is messy, but he's doing the best he can! Last night he literally burst into tears while we were doing his homework because he got so freaked out. He is completely obsessive about his letters, and wants them to be perfect. It worries me a lot.

Anyway, I digress. I'm just surprised this is such a controversial topic.
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As an amateur handwriting analyst, the main difference between people who write in print vs cursive is that they tend to be more emotionally withdrawn or repressed, and have a greater need for clarity and directness. So, one could argue that just learning print will cause a greater trend in kids who aren't as in touch with their emotions and lack the ability to detect subtleties.

There have also been psychological studies that show that kids who write predominantly in cursive have a better handle on grammar and sentence structure, as they are thinking of the words as whole instead of going letter by letter.

Also, for those of you who say you write in a combination of print and cursive, graphologically speaking, it's a very positive trait that shows the writer is able to adapt well to situations, is a fluid thinker, and can get a handle on the details as well as the big picture.
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I write in cursive pretty much exclusively for my own notetaking because it is faster and more comfortable for me. That being said, if I want something to be legible to others, I print.
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I know I'm late to the party (curse you, Cake Wrecks! :D), but I had to chime in on this one.

In my elementary school, we started learning LOGO programming in first grade; BASIC programming and keyboarding were formally introduced in fourth grade.

We also learned penmanship -- which is good, because my penmanship was initially quite atrocious. Now I do Edwardian-style calligraphy for fun.

The long and short of it is that penmanship and computer skills are not, and should not be considered, mutually exclusive. There's no reason one can't learn both.

Besides -- a good, old-fashioned Post-It note on somebody's monitor is both more enduring than a text message and harder to ignore than an email :)
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I think the biggest argument for not teaching cursive anymore is time. Sure it has nostalgic and artistic value and is fast or whatever, but as children are expected to be taught more and more each year there simply isn't enough time to cover cursive, too. Already many teachers are upset that they are unable to cover subjects in as much depth as they would like, especially in subjects such as math and science which will only grow in importance in the coming years. With standardized testing becoming more common in many places teachers also have to be sure that students are learning whatever is on the test, which typically does not include cursive, and often find that they have no time leftover to teach anything else.

Children can only learn so much in a given time period. If they were taught every skill just because some people found them useful and didn't want them to die out them they would only have a very shallow understanding of most subjects destined to be forgotten the next year when they have to learn something else.
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See, now I hated cursive writing in school. I still can't write proper cursive as an adult and I can only read it if it is pure, perfect, textbook cursive. I was told I'd have to use it in H.S. and Uni but when I got to those points they didn't care. In fact, by the time my younger sister got to H.S. they were forbidding cursive, opting for print or typed essays and reports due to illegibility. It all looks like scribbles to me, and the only time I ever have to use cursive is my signature (which growing up my mother said was the reason I had to learn cursive) and that's really just a bunch of scribbles that make up what my name looks like to me when written in cursive.

I think handwriting/printing should be taught just like anything else... but cursive should not be enforced. Maybe learn the basics. Yes, it's flowing and looks more elegant, but so is calligraphy. Learn the basics and focus on print. If signatures are so important, at least have kids learn to write their names in cursive.
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People keep saying how it's harder for them to read. Well, did you ever think that might be because you are just not used to reading it? Cursive makes your handwriting look much nicer, when, quite frankly, print looks like children's handwriting. Granted that some have very nice print, others don't. Writing is a skill that should be looked at as important. Writing in cursive, and learning cursive teaches you discipline and patience.
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Our son was developmentally delayed and cursive was so frustrating for him. His teacher gave him a "laptop" (can't remember the name of the thing) to use, saying that getting his thoughts down was more important than his penmanship.
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my 2nd, and 3rd grade teachers told me that everything after it would be cursive. i'm in 7th grade, and i have not used it since. i don't think it's necessary to know. i barely ever see books, or signs, or bilboards, or well, anything, written in cursive. I don't think that we need to have "preety", or "nicer" handwriting. I think it's harder to read, and of course, this is just my opinion. Teachers are even saying things like, "please only do this report in print, or on a computer!
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You can give all the reasons you want: it being antiquated, it being an "art", but it just boils down to whether you write in it yourself.

For that reason, I'm just going to say that I enjoy writing in cursive for myself personally. Is it necessary? Probably not. Is it 'better'? unlikely; my cursive is a hideous, indecipherable script, while my print is at least readable. I use it because it feels more "natural" and I can write faster with it. Simple as that.
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I'm not so much worried about the decline of cursive as I am the decline of proper spelling and grammar. Today it seems like every young person writes stuff like ur instead of your or ppl instead of people, they rarely capitalize anything, use little or no punctuation, etc.
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People are so narrow-minded, for the lack of a better word. Just because you don't use cursive ever day doesn't mean it shouldn't be taught. Just because the "original" purpose of cursive is gone, doesn't mean it should be forgotten. I want my kids to be able to read a letter or something that is written down, which would not be the case if they were never taught how to do. Technology will never fully take the place of conventional letter writing...people who think it has are missing out on something amazing. As a soldier who has been deployed oversees, their is nothing like holding a HANDWRITTEN letter from a family member, being able to see that person through their very personal writing- something you just don't get from a typed letter. Sure, in that case I am referring to either printed letters or cursive, but if cursive is getting tossed out "because the handwritten language is becoming obsolete" then that means cursive AND print would both be on their way out the window, and I think that is a big mistake.
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There is a theme that runs through these comments, that tells me that things, practices, customs, beliefs, and all that pertains to the PAST has no value, because of the fa, a, and ct that it's "old" . . . or antiquated, or outdated, and that it was considered "expected" and "approved" in the past by civilized and educated people, in most places. It's similar to the mentality that causes some to want to trash a three-year-old automobile, just because it's "old" . . . in favor of sometyhing "newer" and more "up-to-date". There was a kind of discipline and control, conformity, if you will, in learning to write in cursive style, which made everyone's writing look in a sense similar to everybody else's, and we all know that rebellion is honored and worshipped, whereas conformity of every type is detested. What I was hoping to see, but didn't, was the fact that typewriter, computer and almost every type of alpha numerical keyboard gives the typist a choice of type faces, one of which is named "script" . . . which is nothing, essentially, but another term for cursive. It appears similar, in many respects, to italics in most other type faces. So, then, if we manually write it, it's like a dinosaur, but if we type it, that makes it acceptable?
Don't you think it strange that some of these same nonconformists who hate a thing if it's old, just love antique furniture and cars?
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Gee, ShyShy, maybe cursive writing would improve your lack of using proper skills. e.g. capitals, periods, proper tense, run-on sentences, etc.
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It should still be taught, in my opinion. Over the past couple decades, writing skills have diminished sharply. Not just cursive, either. I've interviewed prospective employees, all college graduates, that can't even put two words together, much less put them into print. Sometimes skills are worth learning to promote discipline for learning other skills that are more important.
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Studies have shown that students perform better in written exams if they write using cusive, or joined-up handwriting. The brain is left with more creative thinking space when writing of words is flowing and automatic as opposed to writing individual charaters.
Cursive writing doesn't have to be 'old-fashioned' and loopy; modern cursive has fewer loops but the letter flow naturally into each other. There is also a need for printed writing when labels are required, and schools should ensure that they don't teach cursive exclusively.
My kids are OK at cursive handwriting but were never taught printing which really annoys me. shows how to write modern cursive.
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