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Should People Still Use Cursive Writing?

Dana Hinders
Updated May 16, 2024
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The term “cursive writing” refers to a handwriting style in which all the letters in one word are connected as part of a single stroke. In one form or another, cursive has been used since the seventeenth century. This style of penmanship is sometimes called “joined up writing” in Britain or "running writing" in Australia.

Recently, many parents of young children have started to notice that cursive writing appears to be a lost art. With computers becoming commonplace and most teens preferring e-mail and instant messaging to handwritten letters, it’s not surprising that proper penmanship is on the decline. In fact, many young people can’t write much more than their own names in cursive.

However, experts are somewhat conflicted as to whether or not this represents a problem with the United States educational system. There are some who feel the lack of proficiency in cursive writing is indicative of a general decline in overall literacy skills, but others insist that the movement towards typewritten communication is simply a sign of technology evolving.

It can certainly be argued that the importance of proper handwriting has greatly diminished in recent years. Schoolchildren are almost always required to turn in typewritten essays and most office workers would never dream of sending their supervisor a handwritten memo. Even the postal service discourages the use of cursive writing, since it often causes errors with the optical character recognition software used to sort and process mail.

However, cursive writing does have its own advantages. Since there is no need to pick the pencil up between letters, cursive writing is typically faster than printing. Handwriting is also very useful for situations where it’s either impossible or impractical to have a laptop handy. In addition, students who have learning disabilities often find cursive writing to be easier to master than printing or typing. For example, since the letters in cursive penmanship are joined together, students with dysgraphia are less likely to confuse the letter “b” with the letter “d” when reading a document written in cursive.

Will cursive writing ever completely be eliminated? The introduction of the No Child Left Behind Act has put public schools in the position of making difficult curriculum decisions. Teaching cursive writing is quite time consuming and often impractical when you’re dealing with students who can already print and type. School administrators, when placed in the position of losing federal funding or eliminating handwriting instruction in favor of additional lessons in math and phonics, may very well choose to get rid of cursive writing for good.

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Dana Hinders
By Dana Hinders
With a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Iowa, Dana Hinders brings a strong foundation to her work as a freelance writer. After discovering her passion for freelance writing following the birth of her son, Dana has been a vital part of the WiseGeek team. She also showcases her versatility by creating sales copy and content for e-courses and blogs.
Discussion Comments
By anon1005610 — On Oct 06, 2021

Research shows that the highest speed and legibility in handwriting belong to those who join some letters, not all, as in joining the most easily joined combinations, leaving the rest unjoined, with print-like shapes for letters whose printed and cursive shapes disagree.

By anon987477 — On Feb 03, 2015

People need to learn cursive because without it you won't have a signature, and you need a signature for everything.

By amypollick — On Aug 17, 2013

@anon345229: I do type what I can, since my cursive is not gorgeous. However, I *must* take issue with you on the speech recognition programs. They stink. My sister has Google Voice on her iphone and you wouldn't believe the kludge that comes out when someone leaves her a message, even if they are speaking clearly.

My husband used to be a DJ, is from northern Ohio and speaks clear "broadcast English." In other words, he sounds like a TV anchorman. He left her a brief message and the translation from Google Voice is still a family joke. So, even for someone who speaks well, and with little accent, the speech recognition programs are still very, very error-prone.

I have the Sync system in my car, which uses speech recognition to dial my cell so I can use it hands free. It usually gets names from my contacts right (usually), but trying to dial a number by voice is an exercise in frustration.

Speech recognition is a long, long way from being an everyday substitute for keyboarding or similar. Scanners don't even have optical character recognition down pat. They still can't tell an "m" from an "n." Speech recognition has a lot of work ahead of it in order to completely replace keyboards.

By anon345229 — On Aug 17, 2013

Put simply: cursive is outdated.

Unless this thread was started sometime in the 1990s, then it too is outdated (just like cursive).

I totally agree that cursive could be considered a form of art by some. I agree that, for some, cursive could even be faster, more efficient or more comfortable than using block print. I can even agree that cursive does, in fact, give our mind a bit of a workout, hence it is probably good for the brain.

However, there are numerous problems with the above arguments. First off, I think we all know that practically anything can be considered a form of "art" if at least one oddball says it should be. Second, you cannot say with absolute certainty that people do not write faster in block print than cursive (especially if they do not use/know cursive). Moreover, it can hardly be argued that – whether or not you are "used to seeing" cursive -- block print is still much more legible. Just imagine if every road sign or construction warning was written in italicized cursive!

Lastly, the argument that cursive gives your brain a workout and makes you a better learner is very weak. Performing any task which utilizes your mind will "work out" your mind to one degree or another. Therefore, using the keyboard (which – if done properly – requires you memorize over 100 specific keys/functions) is very likely more of a workout for your brain.

This is now a world where practically everyone has a laptop in their backpack/suitcase, or at the very least, a smartphone equipped with hundreds of writing applications right inside their pocket. You may say, "Oh, well, what if you are not near a computer?" I'm sorry, but Microsoft, Google, and every phone manufacturer on the planet have made it their mission to make sure you do have a computer within arm’s reach every second of your day.

You may be one of those die-hard sorts who simply refuses to keep up with the technology – and that's totally your choice – but please don't freak out when the world decides that one of your favorite non-computerized apps – cursive -- starts to disappear.

Obviously, every last one of us has access to a computer to even complain on this thread, but let me provide everyone with a quick example as to why cursive is now pointlessly inefficient: I type over 140 words per minute. If you try to hand-write cursive faster than that, your hand would literally fall off. Next up, I have a five year smartphone which has numerous text writing applications. The same old phone is wirelessly connected to my laptop 24/7, which means even if my apps fail, I can still access my computer to write down whatever I may need.

I can text faster than I can write, and that's because I text using a QWERTY keyboard at around 80 words per minute. You still cannot hand-write that quickly, and guess what? Even if you did write that fast, the piece of paper would just look like a giant scribble that no one could read, including yourself.

Lastly, in case you did not know, the world has been introduced to speech recognition technology. That means that now, you can finally just talk to your phone, or computer, and it will turn everything you just vocally said into digital text.

Ultimately friends, even keyboard typing will become antiquated, and I'm sure there will be the same kind of die-hards who freak out when their child's typing class is removed due to the fact that speech recognition becomes so error-proof that there is absolutely no need to ever touch a keyboard again.

The point is, everything becomes antiquated at some point. Whales have little nubs where their feet used to be – now that's antiquated too! Keep your cursive as an art form. It's flamboyant and inefficient, but it does look pretty, so please, understand it for what it is: art.

Regardless of whether you believe cursive is important or not, I'm sorry to tell you that it has all but disappeared already. If this were a battle, then cursive has already lost.

By anon331366 — On Apr 22, 2013

The way writing is taught in schools is such an incredible waste of time.

First, kids learn how to write capital letters. Then they do lower case. So far, so good. But then they learn how to write both caps and lower case in preparation for doing "joined up" writing. By this I mean instead of an "A" they will learn the large form of "a" to use it as a capital. Next they learn how to add "tails" and "loops" to the letters so that they can be joined to the letter that follows. The they spend time joining them up. Once they have mastered this - years after printing their first caps - they have to turn everything into italics, or "cursive".

When I saw how much time was being spent on this ridiculous process, I told both my kids' teachers that I wanted them to stop. Oh, they said, but the ministry requires us to teach this. Oh, I said, well if you have anyone from the ministry objecting, just send them to me. At the end of our discussion, the teacher confessed that he agreed with me. He said that everyone ended up by writing in their own way anyway. Both my kids now have very nicely balanced, legible handwriting (not cursive at all), and they didn't waste all that time on stupid writing exercises.

Apart from "cursive" being a waste of time, the above process is done when kids are far too young. Anyone who has done calligraphy or typography will have a great appreciation for the beauty of characters in both our alphabet and other alphabets or scripts. Their proportions are beautifully balanced.

Maybe what the education system should do is to introduce children from an early age to how our letters and numbers were first carved in stone and wood, and drawn with quills and brushes, and help them appreciate well-established proportions of different letters ("fat" letters like O, D, Q, W, M; 3/4 width letters like H & K; half-width letters like E & F, etc.), and realize that writing is an art form.

Most "cursive" writing I have seen from both kids and adults looks as though some ink-drenched spider has crawled across a page. I think this comes from not understanding the proportions of letters.

Why is this cursive writing stuff done in North America anyway? It was already passe and old-fashioned when I was at school in the UK in the 1950s.

By anon328445 — On Apr 03, 2013

Is this strictly an American issue? In Ireland, it's less common to write in print, even amongst children.

By anon320541 — On Feb 18, 2013

I go to Harvard University and no one -- I repeat no one -- uses cursive.

By anon310795 — On Dec 27, 2012

That 1983 test sounds like it wasn't using true cursive but one of those 'join-all-the-letters-together' abominations based on copperplate.

Copperplate was developed with the fine metal nib that spluttered whenever it was lifted and the tines snapped back. It was expedient to join the letters in order to avoid lifting the pen as much as possible. Cursive it is not. It demanded a high level of penmanship, required much practice and mastery meant a job for life.

Many traditional writing styles used in England and America have been developed from it. Joining the letters together is not cursive.

The calligrapher Edward Johnson developed a hand with the sole intention of teaching would-be calligraphers (adults) basic penmanship for studying and learning historical hands. Some ignorant politician who knew nothing about teaching or writing thought it would be a good idea to teach it to the young. This is now print script. It is an exceedingly difficult hand to master and once our young children have started getting the hang of it, we move them on to that other atrocity, 'joined up writing'.

True cursive developed in the papal chancery by people writing Roman hands quickly. It was cursive, not because the letters joined to each other, but because they joined within themselves. The letter 'n' in a Roman hand uses two strokes but in an Italic hand uses one. Arrighi's La Operina teaches a script little changed today that uses a fast cursive hand, Italic. He never suggested joining the letters together.

Joining the letters together is only cursive if it is expedient - when the last letter ends with, and the start of the next letter begins with, a stroke from left to right. Joining letters like s or b, that end with a rightward (or backward) stroke, onto letters like a or c that begin with a rightward (or backward) stroke is a bit like going from England to France - via Africa. The word 'curious' can be written with only one or two pen lifts but 'backward' should only join letters 'a' and 'r'.

If we knew how to write quickly and well back in 1522, when La Operina was first published, why are we still putting up with this perfidious depravity today and calling it cursive?

By anon310713 — On Dec 26, 2012

In 1983 we did a test in high school to determine which was fastest--cursive, print, or typing. Typing of course was fastest, but print was faster than cursive. Cursive feels like it should be faster because it's (relatively) one continuous line, but print won and was more legible. Your mileage may vary, but this was consistent across multiple classes.

By anon301939 — On Nov 06, 2012

I'm 50 now and was part of the generation where teachers forced us to use cursive for everything after a certain grade. Funny enough, I switched back to block print in the 11th grade due to an English teacher (who granted, was very eccentric) who block printed everything, so I tried doing it again and found I liked it much better.

My notes were much more readable and it was easier on my hand/wrist. Maybe it's a lefty thing; we are known for bizarre writing habits.

By anon300426 — On Oct 30, 2012

Cursive writing is an art form like calligraphy. As a communication tool, cursive writing was abandoned because of its vast variation and ability to become misunderstood. The majority of English communication takes place in type or block print, which is very difficult to misunderstand. All technical documentation is written in block print, in order to avoid any mistakes which could occur with cursive writing.

As a people, we in the United States have moved away from the 17th century communication medium known as cursive writing, and adopted block communication techniques which are far more accurate.

Cursive writing was always destined to take its seat in history as an art from, and it's doubtful anyone other than the artistic will mourn its loss.

I do wonder what will replace the cheerleaders notebook, which usually contained over 200 different specimens of cursive writings on its exterior of the cheerleader's name and her boyfriend's last name. I guess it will be texting shorthand.

By BookwormLD — On Sep 13, 2012

I think children should be taught cursive once they can print neatly. Even if they choose not to write by hand much after leaving school, handwriting will be faster for notes and will also allow them to read family letters, scrapbooks, historical documents, etc. that were written in cursive. Why not teach them to be as literate as possible?

And yes, at some point, teach proper keyboarding skills; that's probably already in the curriculum -- my daughter has had computer class since kindergarten or first grade and has been using our computer at home since age 3 or 4.

By anon290589 — On Sep 10, 2012

When people say, "cursive can be a time consuming pain to read due to the uniqueness of the writing," it is because we don't ever read it. We are not used to it (by we, I am referring to those who are not knowledgeable in the writing style).

If we Americans were to actually learn and get used to cursive writing, exposing ourselves to different and unique types of writing, then reading it at a quick pace will not be a problem. We just need to step up and, if not do, then at least try. But try not just once. Go for it and attempt to learn it with a good attitude toward it.

By anon279903 — On Jul 15, 2012

This is indicative of the utilitarian attitude that has dropped Latin from the curriculum.

Teaching joined up writing is another example of the monkey see, monkey do approach of teaching without understanding.

Joined-up writing forces joining all letters, come Hell or high water; it negates efficiency, legibility and facility. It demands high levels of penmanship to be effective. Cursive writing, Italic based, facilitates joining letters when it's easier, faster and more appropriate. It doesn't require as much penmanship to produce satisfactory results.

The point of learning cursive handwriting is to support learning. Forming the words with a pen involves an extra sense that deepens memory and promotes understanding instead of rote learning which is inefficient and short-lived. When we understand what we learn, we remember much more easily and for much longer, usually permanently.

The reason for reading, writing, arithmetic, and also drawing, Latin and playing a musical instrument, is not because we need those skills per se, but that the people who develop those skills learn all things much better than those who don't. They make the brain more capable and more efficient.

By anon279634 — On Jul 13, 2012

Posts should really be date/time stamped here. Here in 2012 this argument looks like an argument about why we should be using rotary telephones instead of smart phones. They don't teach kids how to use slide rules anymore either. I would rather my kids not be taught outdated skills that barely have real world application now, and will most likely have none by the time they're adults.

By anon270089 — On May 21, 2012

It seems ironic that the keyboard is held up as the "modern" way to communicate when the QWERTY keyboard layout is a holdover from early workarounds for mechanical difficulties.

Modern keyboard layouts such as Colemak or Dvorak make more sense, but are taught nowhere. Likewise, italic cursive can be fast, handsome, and easier to learn than what kids are taught in most schools (in the US, anyway), but my daughters are still struggling with Palmer and derivative methods of cursive script.

By anon263328 — On Apr 23, 2012

I remember in one of my first maths lectures, the lecturer wrote out something on the board in cursive, and about a minute later there were several hands going up in the air asking what the "symbol" he had written on the board was.

I thought people were just teasing, but was shocked to find out that the ignoramuses had thought the cursive f was a symbol in maths, and the lecturer quizzically looked at them and asked don't you recognize cursive? And most did of course, but quite a few didn't.

It's quite ridiculous that there are university students who are native English speakers who can't recognize cursive.

By anon247946 — On Feb 15, 2012

I am a 24-year-old recent college graduate (Summa cum Laude), and I grieve the waning use of cursive. I use cursive without exception when I write by hand, and took all of my notes by hand in college. I refused to print out the provided lecture slides, and as a result, I actually learned the material given in lecture. Had I attempted to take notes in print, I would never have been able to keep up with my professors. All of the papers I had to write in school I hand-wrote first before typing, and it was immensely helpful in working out the flow of the paper and sorting out my thoughts.

As to the complaints of teachers concerning the illegibility of handwritten essays - this is because of the decline in proper cursive teaching! If students had learned proper handwriting well, their cursive would not be illegible (unless they had issues with motor control or the like, which is a different circumstance). This complaint simply underlines the need for handwriting courses in school.

I now am endeavoring to further improve my cursive, which I already receive compliments on, by working through Spencerian handwriting courses from the turn of the 19th century. I would like to be able to give a shining first impression through my handwriting and aim to use elegant cursive to do so.

When I have children, I would like them to learn fluid handwriting to imbue them with such skills as well, whether or not the schools teach cursive.

By anon244538 — On Feb 01, 2012

This is mortifying! Just because it is now important for kids to learn keyboarding at an earlier age is no reason to throw away a writing system that has been in use for hundreds of years. Think of all the occasions in their lifetimes they might come across something that someone else has written in script, either from an earlier time or their own, and not be able to read it. This will separate the haves from the have not because more disciplined and educated parents will not allow their children to become cursively illiterate.

When I was in first grade we began learning cursive. By the middle of second grade we were allowed to use nothing else. Yet from what I've heard, they don't begin teaching keyboarding until fifth or sixth grade. If this is true, a student's cursive skills should be firmly in place by that time and there should be no need to take time from one program to teach the other.

By anon240004 — On Jan 12, 2012

If you are attending a top ten university, you aren't old enough to have been taught to write properly. If cursive slows you down, you aren't doing it right. That's the whole point of cursive; it's how it came about.

Modern handwriting is based on joining every letter, because when steel nibs were invented, it was easier to avoid blotting your copybook by keeping the nib on the page instead of lifting it. Only the gifted or diligent managed to master it. This style is is both inappropriate for modern writing instruments, slow and unwieldy in use, and not best suited to legibility - it doesn't look like the letters we're used to reading in print.

Proper cursive writing doesn't join the letters per se, though it is frequently convenient. Check out Arrighi's 'La Operina' o'Brien's Icelandic Schools handwriting project.

By anon239848 — On Jan 11, 2012

I'm an undergraduate at a top university. Very few students use cursive. A lot of people here seem to be arguing that cursive is essential because it's faster. To argue this point you cite, for example, that when you switch to printing your writing speed slows down.

Well, when I switch to cursive in class (I do it for fun on occasion), my writing speed goes way down.

Cursive may help elementary school students grasp language, but to argue that is essential to their future is nonsense.

I'll repeat this again: I go to a top ten university. Very few people here use cursive. What may have been essential twenty years ago will be almost useless by the time my generation reaches middle age.

By anon233582 — On Dec 08, 2011

I was never 'taught' to join write. It just came naturally after a while, sometime in fourth grade.

By anon231129 — On Nov 22, 2011

For all those who think we should be learning how to type, I actually agree. But, we can not shut out another form of learning. We really need different skills.

If technology is the answer, we shouldn't learn how to cook because we have readily prepared food and we shouldn't have physical education because we have technology do so much for us. Might as well take away art too, because most of us won't need to learn how to draw or paint.

By anon226936 — On Nov 02, 2011

I think that cursive is a very important thing. Without cursive you can't really do much. Its like cursive is your whole life. You use cursive all of the time. You use cursive for signing signatures, paper work, writing checks, etc. Also it is way faster to write in cursive.

By anon213908 — On Sep 13, 2011

I cannot write legibly in print and never have been able to. It degenerates into (admittedly very speedy) scrawl, suited only to being read by myself, within a week of writing it. It can be as fast as 100wpm though.

I can write quite legibly in cursive, on the other hand, and, while not at 100wpm, it is probably around the same as my typing speed (so, perhaps 50wpm on average) which is perfectly adequate for note taking. (the 100wpm writing was very useful for high school debate though). Sure, there may be people who cannot learn cursive, but there are also those of us who cannot legibly write in print! With cursive, I can write notes in lecture that are still legible to me at the end of term, when I need to review for exams.

If I wasn't able to write legibly in cursive, my grades would suffer, because reviewing for tests would also involve deciphering the worst handwriting my high school had seen in the last 20 years.

By anon211276 — On Sep 02, 2011

While pens are still being sold, despite the increasing availability of keyboards, people will still write and while they still write they will continue to adapt the printed letter to a more cursive form. For the enlightened that will be Italic, for the unenlightened that will be 'cursive', 'running hand', 'joined up writing', et cetera.

Until handwriting is taught properly, and people take the time to practice it properly, there will continue to be those who scorn at cursive writing out of a position of ignorance.

Italics evolved out of necessity. Printed letters, Roman style, are not conducive to efficient writing, nor is copperplate, nor joined up writing; Italic is.

The Greeks do not use cursive forms because their alphabet uses too many changes of stroke direction. Italic doesn't. It flows. But while people write it as if it gushed, they aren't going to do it justice.

By SayblFox — On Sep 01, 2011

Peh, the "elegance" of cursive as opposed to print is a matter of the individual's particular style. I've known many who write everything in cursive, and while quite pretty, it tended to be utterly illegible - never mind the handwriting of those who are bad at cursive. Likewise, I've seen plenty of examples of perfectly lovely, almost always legible print. Granted, most print doesn't uphold the pretentious floral ideals of the older generations, but what can you do when the maturation of society decides to trim away the gaudy plumes of a peacock in favor of raptor-like aerodynamics?

By anon206334 — On Aug 16, 2011

As a teacher of secondary school English, the topic of cursive writing, or indeed any hand writing by students, has become quite a concern for many of the professionals in our field.

According to education and psychological development theories, the learning, practice and continued use of cursive writing is paramount in the development of literacy skills. It is part of the cognitive process whereby forming letters using fine motor skills aides in the improvement of retention, understanding and use of letter patterns.

We are currently working with a generation of students in secondary (high) school who, in some cases, have missed out on learning cursive writing or any form of uniformly practised handwriting. The correlation between this and their general literacy skills is blatantly obvious.

Learning to running write properly is crucial to the literacy development of students and it is extremely worrying to read that people would prefer their primary school aged students to learn keyboard skills than writing skills.

Letter recognition and grasp of language will not come without the kinesthetic processes which hand writing entail and which should always precede keyboarding.

This is not a bygone trend of "Grandma's era". I and many other younger teachers are the first to admit this and notice the trends despite growing up in what many would call the "technological age".

By anon197392 — On Jul 17, 2011

To me, cursive writing is just a fancy way of writing things, and cursive just made things much harder than they needed to be. I have Asperger's Syndrome, so, writing has always been a pain in the butt. One of the most difficult challenges was learning to hold the damn pencil. Even as an adult, I have to hold the pencil with most of my fingers or the pencil will fall out of my hand. I have to literally drag my hand over my handwriting, so whenever I use a pen, my hand is covered in ink.

In the fifth grade, I had a teacher who only accepted in classwork in cursive. My handwriting in cursive so bad, and she didn't have a choice; she couldn't read it. Hell, on some days, I couldn't read my only handwriting in print. When I got to high school, I stopped in writing in cursive, because print was quicker, easier and less stressful on my fingers. --a 21-year-old adult who hasn't written in cursive since tenth grade

By anon195079 — On Jul 10, 2011

@ Post 24: I have no idea what you were trying to say. You did not use proper grammar and then you made a comment about home school. However, it is one word: homeschool. Truth be told, homeschoolers are most likely to continue to teach cursive because we do not mimic the school system, considering we find it to fail at the basics.

Don't bad mouth the homeschoolers. They outrank, test, and place in most colleges before their public school counterparts. Just a thought.

By anon189787 — On Jun 24, 2011

cursive writing or type writing, both are skills you acquire by learning. just because we don't use cursive writing that much these days dosen't mean you abolish it or stop practising it.

for those who think we live in a modern day with revolutionary technologies and say ''cursive writing is a waste of time," when are you going to stop living your life burning those primitive dead plants and animals as your primary fuel source?

By pmud55 — On May 04, 2011

Although I agree with the notion that cursive writing is easy and fast to write, the downside is that it is quite difficult and slow to read. Sometimes it is impossible to actually read something written in cursive. At times the communication intended by the writer can be misinterpreted by the reader because of the uniqueness in the writer’s message.

Ultimately, I believe that cursive writing is a dying language that has outlived its usefulness. Proponents of cursive writing are predominately writers and not readers. I also believe that proponents of cursive writing tend to be the older population.

If a message is worth writing, it’s worth writing clearly and with the audience in mind. Cursive writing does these poorly.

By anon170369 — On Apr 26, 2011

This is distressing. Before reading this, I was under the impression that just about everybody knows how to write cursive.

What a shame that some parents would rather their children learn only how to type instead of write elegantly (presumably to prepare them for the workforce?). Let them learn as much as they possibly can, especially while they are young!

What a mediocre people we are becoming.

By anon158748 — On Mar 08, 2011

We use print in all important documents. Grandma can read print. Teach short hand if you want people to take quick notes. No more cursive, please.

By anon155142 — On Feb 22, 2011

One benefit no one has addressed is the brain development and visual skills that come from learning cursive.

As an elementary classroom teacher of 30 years, I can assure you that when students master any style of writing, or typing by using it enough, they increase their ability to communicate effectively through the written word.

What cursive brings to the table is a flow in the writing and a constant crossing of the midline. Brain research has shown that crossing the midline increases electrical activity in the brain creating more potential for increase of learning.

So it is not surprising to hear a college professor with 40 years experience state that those students who have mastered cursive tend to more effective with their learning. (comment 27) Teaching printing and keyboarding are equally important as teaching cursive. Let's give students their best chance at success by giving them the discipline of learning all three very well.

By anon139799 — On Jan 05, 2011

After 40 years of university-level teaching, I am able to say that the students who are able to use cursive are easily the better students — with only a handful of exceptions (who could print as quickly and neatly as a daisy-wheel printer). That's a matter of correlation.

As for causation, I have found that those students who can't use cursive find it very difficult to accumulate a complete set of in-class notes. Then, when it comes time for exam preparation, these students don't have much to prepare with.

Cursive does not have to be perfect to be functional, but it is a practical necessity in the university.

By anon134828 — On Dec 16, 2010

@anon134728: Are you purporting that typing is a 'perfectly good way' of writing? I'm sorry, but I feel this is pure ignorance. Cursive, done properly, is fast and legible. Using a pen or pencil is also much more convenient than carrying around a keyboard.

If your professor's scrawl is illegible, I suggest that his block letters are also illegible.

Most people learn to write before their teens and seldom try to improve it thereafter but in as little as ten minutes a day for a couple of weeks it can be brought up to a higher standard, commensurate with the age of the writer.

Cursive writing has been around for over two thousand years. Its popularity is because of its efficiency and usefulness.

By anon134728 — On Dec 15, 2010

Cursive is not needed anymore. it actually hurts in some situations, everyone has there own way of writing it and often that means that people can't read it, especially when we spend little time learning it in school.

For example only a few people in my english class can read our professors comments on our graded papers, and even then it takes a long time just to read a few sentences.

Cursive is also slower than typing. I am by no means a fast typer but I'm able to way outpace the guy sitting next to my writing cursive.

There's nothing bad about learning a new skill (cursive) but that effort should be put into learning math and science and not another way of writing when we already know a perfectly good way.

By anon129754 — On Nov 25, 2010

lol, computers are not an excuse to stop learning penmanship. in fact, that is part of the problem. i am so sick of those who want society to be so dependent on computers to the point that no one will have any idea of how to live without them.

if you want to screw yourself over then go to home school, but leave the rest alone.

it's quite disturbing to see how many people on here want to teach kids to be robots before the age of 10.

cursive is important, and i still use it today. why deprive students of learning another way of writing just because you don't like it? grow up.

By anon121961 — On Oct 26, 2010

I would just like to make a few observations from across the pond, in the UK. As a student at university, I can vouch for the usefulness of cursive handwriting in nearly every area of my studies - I use it when taking notes in lectures (it is by no means a common phenomenon to use a laptop), when I come across useful points in the dozens of books and articles that I read over the course of a week, and when writing my formal essays.

Cursive is (assuming that you have spent the effort learning and keeping up the skill) a great deal faster than printing: the most important consideration when anything needs to be written quickly. It is also generally more legible than the scrawl that the hurried printing of letters often descends to.

As for handwriting my essays, I have found that it is by far the best means of preparing oneself for exams which are universally done in pen.

I'm not entirely sure that I can comprehend the negative attitude that some of the comments on this forum have towards good handwriting (which is not the same as legible handwriting), or the assumption that it is useful only for keeping in contact with a Grandmother who will be dead in a few years anyway. Cursive script is a method of communication that still has important applications in our lives. How many of the people commenting would be impressed by the gesture of a 'love-email', or a thank-you written by text? How many seriously believe that it is more convenient to carry around a laptop than simply to have a notebook in one's pocket?

And how many of you will deny that if you receive a handwritten note that is illegible and ugly, you will mentally lower (even if only slightly) your opinion of the person leaving it?

By zrtf90 — On Oct 14, 2010

The kind of cursive used in many schools where every letter is joined and the letter a has an upstroke before the body of the letter is indeed a waste of time and paper.

Proper cursive, where the branching on an 'n' can begin from the bottom of the letter (as in italic) as opposed to needing a pen-lift to branch out from the top of the downstroke is a much more fluid style of writing. Joining every letter reduces speed, legibility and facility.

Christopher Jarman has 12 rules for good cursive handwriting, or even a translation of Arrighi's La Operina (available online) for a true interpretation of cursive writing.

By anon109481 — On Sep 07, 2010

Cursive may be faster, but it's a waste of ink and a waste of paper. It is also much harder to read when it's poorly executed.

By anon106149 — On Aug 24, 2010

Bravo to comment #4, the only insightful comment here. I had no idea that handwriting helped stutterers! Just another reason to keep cursive in schools.

It's easy to teach concrete skills to anyone, but abstract skills are more vital and important for intellectual development. Cursive is an artform that helps a variety of students learn language and expression of concepts in a different way.

Removing cursive, as well as music, art, and other abstract concepts will remove what makes us human. It will not only help remove abstract thinking, it will also remove a connection to history.

Another concept: compare how you feel when you read a hand written letter from a loved one versus an email. There is a stark difference.

By anon95278 — On Jul 12, 2010

A traditional style of both beauty and intellect, or identical computer font -- gee, tough choice .

By anon84935 — On May 18, 2010

I find that cursive writing is nice, but more luxury than necessity. Print can be just as quick as cursive once practiced as much.

The reason cursive is truly faster is it was taught at an early age and encouraged to be used for notes; however, printing in the same fashion as cursive writing (i.e. put the characters closer together) removes the necessity from learning a second typography set.

Furthermore, it is not a decline of education to remove cursive, but an evolution in both technology and thought process. Remove the third arm from the man with three arms and watch him stumble, but then watch him adapt and improve in the two armed society in which he lives.

Sincerely, A successful dyslexic adult

By anon83970 — On May 13, 2010

Cursive is definitely a waste of time. Signatures are not an excuse to learn cursive since everyone's handwriting is almost unique and computers process a lot of these documents and can determine anomalies like a fake signature.

By anon79630 — On Apr 23, 2010

At least the basics for cursive should be taught. How do you sign cheques, credit cards, passports, etc.? Do you print your name?

Wake up people. At least learn the basics.

Yes computers are the future with email, text, etc., but they are also the downfall of this planet.

By anon75833 — On Apr 07, 2010

Cursive writing is what i use in school and there is no problem. Plus, writing in block letter is too ugly and messy. why can't they just admit that some people are just too lazy to learn such an easy and obviously looks better cursive writing? well...

Coolplayer 09

By anon69898 — On Mar 10, 2010

Commenter #2: In higher education, notes are increasingly recorded via laptop computers. This makes studying much easier. Who wants to look at a page full of flowery, distracting script the night before a midterm? And when was the last time a college professor allowed handwritten formal essays? Cursive usage in blue book exams is questionable. The grader easily becomes frustrated with illegible writing.

Commenter #8: Your point highlights the care that goes into a letter to grandma. What happens when grandma or grandpa is no longer around? Wasted skill.

By anon65871 — On Feb 16, 2010

Learning cursive is only useful in that a student can use it for note taking. In high school, students have to take hand written notes and being able to write quickly is very important. Like 6, I have my own personal short hand, a combo of print and cursive, which is legible to me and that I can use very quickly. I have never used cursive on an assignment and have heard teachers berate students for illegible cursive.

I think that cursive should be taught in school, but not required for assignments. Handwriting is very personal, cursive especially. Print is easier to read and more like the fonts used in books and other printed materials. That makes print more familiar and easier to read.

Also, I think that keyboard skills are important; I learned typing in elementary school and it has helped me so much now that most assignments are required to be typed.

By anon65311 — On Feb 12, 2010

In grade school. when I was always forced to write in cursive, the teachers always used the excuse that in high school we would have to use it so we had to use it now too.

When I got to high school, I never once had a teacher that required us to write in cursive, but had several that forbade it because it was hard to read. I actually write much faster when I print too.

By anon59063 — On Jan 06, 2010

If I'm writing by hand, I'm doing it in pure cursive, no matter what. Not only is it aesthetically beautiful, it looks more traditional and when you're taking the time to write that letter to grandma by hand, why print when you can go old-school completely for her? If you're going to put in the effort, do it the whole way.

By anon53947 — On Nov 25, 2009

cursive is not generally used in any workplace. It might be a big waste of time. Isn't italic print faster?

By anon46569 — On Sep 27, 2009

I like to write a lot to keep my thoughts in order. This comes in the form of typing sometimes, but usually it is in hand writing. I use some kind of combination of cursive and print that is fairly legible, but it is mostly print. I am quick and have no soreness from writing for extended periods of time. I've always believed cursive is a waste of time, and I'm very happy technology is booting it out of the school systems so children don't have to be tortured with this entirely useless unintellectual waste of time.

By anon38957 — On Jul 29, 2009

Cursive handwriting is a skill, like any skill, for the process of learning. Writing is a form of communication and as a teacher, I know communication is produced in all forms. We can rationalize all we want, but there is no harm in emphasizing this skill in the classroom. It is a skill, like any other skill learned and picked-up in school. If anything, it becomes a challenge and challenges make students work hard. --Bea

By anon25267 — On Jan 26, 2009

Cursive writing is vital to anyone who believes they have a "stutter".

The pitfall of phonics reading is that the younger generation doesn't see things as fluid and in-motion; wavelike. Instead, many people who try to sound-out syllables in their heads memorize the sound of the word, without the meaning.

If you have a stutter, which I did until recently, it is very frustrating to speak around others because your thoughts are getting caught up trying to sound out a word (in the head) in order to pronounce the word verbally.

Learning cursive, and reading out loud as you read/write sentences in cursive will help create a fluid wave which registers quickly in the brain.

By anon24359 — On Jan 11, 2009

I was talking to my husband about this and I think that with the increasing use of computers that I would rather my elementary aged child be taught proper keyboarding rather than cursive writing.


By anon18955 — On Oct 02, 2008

As a homeschool teacher, I have taught both cursive and printing skills. The public schools would do better to eliminate politically correct learning units and strive toward greater literacy in their students. Notetaking skills are very important in college and cursive is vital for academic success.

By anon14016 — On Jun 09, 2008

I don't really like cursive writing, but I believe the main reason it will continue to be used is if you need to do writing by hand fairly frequently, it is much easier and faster to write in cursive, the letters connect together and the words are written much faster than printing them. I tried switching to print, and it was so much slower and more work for my hands. I learned why cursive is superior.

Dana Hinders
Dana Hinders
With a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Iowa, Dana Hinders brings a strong foundation to...
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