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Demise of cursive writing



Published: Wed, November 20, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

The Northwest Herald, Crystal Lake, Ill.: A thoughtful reader recently pointed us to what she believed was an important issue that she hadn’t seen addressed: a lack of instruction in cursive writing in area schools.

It was an interesting point, so we explored it further and learned that, yes, most schools have cut back in instruction time on cursive writing and some have eliminated it, at least as part of the districtwide curriculum.

After speaking with representatives from area schools, we don’t quibble much with an overall reduction in classroom time spent teaching children this craft. They still should know the basics, how to sign their names and be able to comprehend cursive writing.

But children today are entering a workforce and even a social sphere that will be more and more reliant on typing, texting, emailing and spending the vast majority of their time communicating by electronic means.

Even “honey-do” lists in 2013 are often sent to our phones.

Cursive writing isn’t exactly cave painting, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see it mostly extinct within a few more generations. Some will mourn its passing, but there are more important things to consider.


Comments

1KateGladstone(2 comments)posted 9 months, 4 weeks ago

Handwriting matters — but does cursive matter? The fastest, clearest handwriters join only some letters: making the easiest joins, skipping others, using print-like forms of letters whose cursive and printed forms disagree. (Sources on request.)

Reading cursive matters, but even children can be taught to read writing that they are not taught to produce. Reading cursive can be taught in just 30 to 60 minutes — even to five- or six-year-olds, once they read ordinary print. (In fact, now there's even an iPad app to teach how: named "Read Cursive," of course — http://appstore.com/readcursive .) So why not simply teach children to read cursive — along with teaching other vital skills, including some handwriting style that's actually typical of effective handwriters?

Educated adults increasingly abandon cursive. In 2012, handwriting teachers were surveyed at a conference hosted by Zaner-Bloser, a publisher of cursive textbooks. Only 37 percent wrote in cursive; another 8 percent printed. The majority — 55 percent — wrote a hybrid: some elements resembling print-writing, others resembling cursive. When most handwriting teachers shun cursive, why mandate it?

What about signatures? In state and federal law, cursive signatures have no special legal validity over any other kind. (Hard to believe? Ask any attorney!)

Questioned document examiners (these are specialists in the identification of signatures, then verification of documents, etc.) inform me that the least forgeable signatures are the plainest.
Most cursive signatures are loose scrawls: the rest, if they follow the rules of cursive all, are fairly complicated: these make a forger's life easy.
All writing, not just cursive, is individual — just as all writing involves fine motor skills. That is why, six months into the school year, any first-grade teacher can immediately identify (from print-writing on unsigned work) which student produced it.

Mandating cursive to preserve handwriting resembles mandating stovepipe hats and crinolines to preserve the art of tailoring.

[AUTHOR BIO: Kate Gladstone is the founder of Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works and the director of the World Handwriting Contest]

Yours for better letters,

Kate Gladstone
Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works
and the World Handwriting Contest
http://www.HandwritingThatWorks.com

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