Why Cursive? Should We Keep Writing This Way?

Standard

Subscribe to KLWightman.com Blog Upper Button

Cursive is like a Shakespearean tragedy. Its beauty is often butchered, its letters commonly misinterpreted, and we are all watching the inevitable death of cursive.

Or are we?

The debate on why cursive should be taught has been heated and been in focus as more and more school systems limit cursive instruction time in the classroom or just scrap the program altogether.

And it’s been in the news. The New York Times, Prospect Magazine, and National Geographic have all taken notice. But no one is taking a clear stand on the issue.

I’m with the experts this time.

Technology is moving us away from paper dependency. School papers and novel manuscripts are usually composed on computers, letters are now emails, invites are now electronic, and postcards are now texts.

And if we want to make it fancy, there are a dozen cursive-like fonts for the choosing.

But back to the school papers. Typing skills are becoming more relevant to our tech-savvy culture. It makes sense that students are spending more time on the keyboard than scrolling on cursive worksheets.

The beauty of mankind is that our skills evolve and that we adapt to market demands. We were having this argument a century or so ago when horse-drawn carriage drivers were fighting to keep horses on the roads as cars became more affordable and reasonable. What would our roads be like if cars and horses rode side by side? What if the horse-drawn carriage drivers won the fight?

They did on Mackinac Island, but that’s another story.

I grew up when computer innovation was rising. I knew how to load a floppy disk and respond to DOS commands when I was three, thanks to my dad. I spent my weekends competing with my sisters on typing games long before a towel was thrown over my hands in my third grade classroom.

Don’t worry. I spent more time playing outside.

But I spent just as much time typing as I did practicing my cursive. And because I was competitive, I wanted to have the best scroll in town. So that meant sharpening a lot of pencils.

Typing and cursive are both great skills to have.  Research shows that children that learn how to write cursive tend to have better math and readings skills than those that still chicken-scratch their ABCs.

And that’s not all. Cursive is a great way to fine-tune motor skills. Think about it: it takes practice to pressure a pen just hard enough on paper to spell out a word with fluidity and nimbleness.

Denelian and keyboard typing are clunky compared to this ballet art.

But our society has become more casual and doesn’t match the formality dripping from a calligraphy pen. Keeping cursive around is like trying to resurrect hieroglyphics from its tomb.

Maybe that’s why cursive has stuck around. Many historical documents are written in cursive, so being able to write it means that we are able to read cursive. What if we couldn’t decipher historical documents written in cursive in the future? What if future generations couldn’t read the Bill of Rights at the National Archives?

What a beautiful piece of writing!

Just because schools are not teaching cursive as much or at all doesn’t mean we still can’t learn it. Parents and tutors can still teach their children, and adults can still take lessons to perfect the craft.

Who knows? Maybe cursive is a skill that can be one day listed on your resume.

This Shakespearean play may actually be a comedy. There’s humor in applying cursive to typing situations as well as trying to type when cursive is more applicable. Jotting down notes and scribbling a grocery list isn’t going away, at least for now. And it’s a lot faster to write “toilet paper” in cursive.

What are your thoughts? Are you for cursive or typing? Share below.

10 thoughts on “Why Cursive? Should We Keep Writing This Way?

  1. I’m still for both. I beleive it should be taught. You still need to be able to sign your name. People can learn it on their own, but will they if no value is placed on it? I think it is important not only for national or historical documents, but what about just to read a letter or card written by your great grandmother years ago? In doing any kind of geneology research of your background or heritage you’d certainly have to look at documents written in cursive. When it comes to a personal letter I value a hand written letter much more than a type-written one, even though both have thier place. I am not going to type on a greeting card, and I’d much rather write a note on it in cursive than use printing. It just looks more perosnal, but it the end what matters is that someone took the time.

    • You bring up a good point with genealogical records. Census records and Ellis Island passenger records hold great value in deciphering family lineages, but what if we couldn’t read them? Will cursive one day need a trained translation specialist?

      And I agree–there’s nothing more sentimental than a handwritten letter in cursive.

      Thank you for taking the time to read my blog!

  2. I think kids should learn both. When I was in grade school, we started cursive … I think in grade 4? But we didn’t start typing until grade 5. I don’t know what it’s like in elementary schools these days, but I assume that kids are getting a much earlier start in computer-use than I did. So I guess I think we should still teach cursive, just devote more time, percentage-wise, to typing than cursive. It’s more than just a kind of communication — it’s an art form, and I would hate the idea of losing it a few centuries down the road, especially since so much of history was hand-written.

    • I wonder if teachers could get creative with their cursive lessons to show the relevancy of the craft. Perhaps relating the use of cursive within the current history lesson, or the science of making ink, or the mathematics of holding a pen. I remember wanting to learn cursive because that’s what grownups did, and I wanted to be just like my parents. It’s the motivation that creates a learning yearning in all of us, so maybe that’s what we should be considering for the future of the cursive lesson.

      Thank you for taking the time to read my blog!

  3. T A Wightman

    Thanks for the shout out to your dad 🙂
    Here’s a thought about those cursive fonts:
    If no one learns cursive how will anyone read the cursive fonts?

  4. I recall when the uniqueness of a person’s cursive script was emblematic of their personality and a point of pride. A person with a ‘good hand’ was held in higher respect, since it denoted a higher education. I’ll be sad if cursive as an identifier is lost to technology.

    • Yes, I remember! Once I got the hang of writing in cursive, I practiced my signature in different stylistic ways because I wanted my signature to be the most memorable. I knew early on that I wanted to be a writer.

      I suppose a scanned-in signature can be inserted into tech communications to show off our ‘good hands’…

      Thank you for taking the time to read my blog!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s