Cursive drying/dying, and that's okay with me

From the Madison, Wisconsin The Capital Times (and really, I think it’s a reprint from something that was in The Washington Post), comes this article, “Cursive is drying out; Pen not mighter than the keyboard.” A quote from the opening couple of paragraphs that I thought was interesting:

The computer keyboard helped kill shorthand, and now it’s threatening to finish off longhand.

When handwritten essays were introduced on the SAT exams for the class of 2006, just 15 percent of the almost 1.5 million students wrote their answers in cursive. The rest? They printed. Block letters.

And those college hopefuls are just the first edge of a wave of U.S. students who no longer get much handwriting instruction in the primary grades, frequently 10 minutes a day or less.

To me, that 10 minutes a day or so (and I think my son spends more than that in his fourth grade class, but I could be wrong about that) is just fine. As one person in this article says, the only place adults use cursive in our society is to sign their names.

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3 Responses to Cursive drying/dying, and that's okay with me

  1. Kayla says:

    hmm, that was an interesting read.

    i remember learning how to write in cursive when i was in 2nd through 4th grade, and i hated it.
    freshman year, however, my english teacher made us write out our vocab assignments in cursive. i actually had to reteach myself how to write some of the letters, lol. by the end of year though, i was writing almost purely in cursive, albeit a cursive partially mixed with printing.
    to this day, thanks to her, i write in cursive on just about everything.

    but i agree, people just want to be able to read someone’s handwriting, and just about everyone prefers computer generated fonts to handwriting. it’s cleaner.

  2. Alison (from last year's class) says:

    When I was in elementary school, learning to write in cursive was kind of a rite of passage from lower elementary to upper elementary. We considered ourselves “upperclassmen” when we started learning cursive.
    But as they go along, most folks abandon the formal cursive formations they learn in elementary in favor of their own idiosyncratic style, often a combination of print and cursive. For example, I find upper case cursive S’s hard to write, so long ago I started to subsitute print upper case S in my handwriting. Left handed folks have issues learning formal cursive style also, so they’ll often develop hybrid systems that work for them. So long blocks of time practicing cursive letter formations is usually time not well spent.
    However, when I taught lower elementary struggling readers, one many of us used was having students trace words (in print) in sand on a tray. Something about that tactile sensation forming the letters was helpful for many of them in retaining recognition of the word. This might be lost if they used keyboards exclusively to learn new words.

  3. Steve B says:

    I find this kind of article tired and frustrating. It picks out a particular facet of an older skill and lines it up across from a digital means of doing a similar thing, and talks about the “passing” of this one mode. Cursive, in my mind, is not the issue. Skill at making physical marks with pen or pencil, in legible or even attractive form — that is still a skill worth developing, in a number of cognitive and developmental ways. Instead of using this as an example of the “changing times,” it should be used as evidence of how skills are understood purely functionally, not critically, and not cognitively. Being able to write, as well as draw to some degree — these are skills tested for both in intelligence testing, and checks for brain damage. The issues are more complicated than this. I imagine, having seen Steve Krause’s handwriting, how a left-handed person with a claw-grip and, by all accounts, chicken-scratch handwriting, made it as a writer. As evidence that suggests what goes on in writing is deeper than an ability to produce stylish text — but the reverse is also true — that the ability to write (and draw) well surely does enable and develop us in ways we are not even aware of, and articles like this not surprisingly never show any awareness of. I would be really interested to see some of the research that really gets at the issues here.

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