Writing Cursive

I don’t write handwritten letters often. No reason to. I write in cursive even less often than that.

Most things I write are for me, and rarely is it anything substantive. Why put something down on paper when I can just as easily remember it? It’s pretty easy to remember important things.

But I remember in second grade learning to write in cursive. I remember thinking it was so cool and such an important thing to learn. Now I don’t. I’m not sure I can think of any reason to write in cursive at this point. I know what you’re thinking. What about my signature? Nope. Not even that. I basically just scribble. There are a couple of things I do that make it mine, but there’s nothing overly particular about it.

What do you think about writing in cursive? Do you ever do it?

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57 thoughts on “Writing Cursive

  1. Personally, I love cursive:) Being homeschooled, mom taught it to us some when we were younger but I never really used it. But the Summer before last, at a week long workshop, I met a guy who somehow got a crush on me. On the last day he gave me a note, that was in beautiful cursive. I couldn’t read it very well, but my friend helped me. Very nice note btw:) I had his email, but he didn’t have internet much, so we started writing letters, and I brushed up on my skill so we both wrote in cursive. Quite a lot of fun really:) That lasted about 7 mouths until he got an Iphone and now we talk everyday, drive the two hours to visit about once a month, occasionally still send letter, and are quite likely to get married in the future. Other then that I use cursive to sigh my name, and when I write in my journal:)

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  2. I stopped using cursive in the 6th grade, when I convinced my teachers that my print handwriting looked like something off a typewriter, and my cursive looked like drunk rodents tipped over an ink bottle and danced on my paper.

    Someone made the argument not long ago that “historical documents are written in cursive, so our kids need to learn cursive so they can read them.” I countered with the fact that 1) every historical document of any importance is on the Internet, and 2) when’s the last time you went, QUICK! Read that historical document! Now! I also would point out that older historical documents were written in calligraphic Latin. We don’t learn that anymore, do we?

    For my children, I’d rather the schools use their limited instruction time to teach skills that will drive them forward in life. Reading, comprehension, critical thinking, math, science, history and computer literacy top my “must have” list for this generation of learners. If cursive is used to read historical documents…. then teach it during history.

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    • It’s not like it’s taught every year and is a whole class. I had one class that taught it to me in like elementary school for a couple of lessons and that’s it. There’s a lot of things we’re taught in school that we don’t necessarily go on to use for the rest of our life unless we specialize in such, but the point of school is to expose you to a lot of different elements and so you know more about the world around you and possibly what might interest you. I went to get my degree in English because I wanted to be a librarian, but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t have taken all those classes growing up in history and science and such just because that information isn’t something I’ll ever really use on regular basis.

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      • Back in the stone ages, when I was in school, cursive took up an hour a day, every day, for most of the third grade. It’s not like that now… it’s half-taught, sort-of, kind-of, and then expected to be used by some teachers. They need to make a decision and stick with it. Either teach the thing, or don’t. I’d prefer the latter, and have them teach it much like you’re saying… as a “something extra” but not a focus. Like I said, a unit in history, coupled with some historic documents… that’s the perfect place to teach the idea of cursive.

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    • Ha! Always on point and funny at the same time. I’m probably still several years from kids, but I imagine I’d want them taught the same things you mentioned. Cursive most likely wouldn’t make the list.

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  3. I have terrible handwriting, and it’s even worse in cursive. So I’m glad to have never required it, aside from my signature.

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  4. I actually still write a lot and cursive is the only way to go for me. I can write much faster in cursive than print. It’s not the kind of cursive you see on cards but it not bad either. I’ve even gotten a few compliments. Lately though, I realize more people have forgotten how to read cursive because they never learned to write it. I really like cursive writing and am determined to teach my daughter how to write in it. 😊

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  5. I do write in cursive at times, and I do think it’s something still important to learn in school. First off, I wish they would still teach some sort of penmanship, even if it isn’t cursive, because at times we all tend to right something down and so many people now just have awful penmanship to the point you can’t really read it. But I do think cursive should be taught because historical documents are written in cursive, and a lot of people can’t read cursive because they were never taught how to write it, and that I think is a problem. Yes I know that most of those documents have probably been rewritten somewhere on the internet in type and easy to read, but I do still think if someone comes across something like that they should be able to read it, or else it’ll become like a forgotten language and I think that would be tragic.

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    • Not that I represent any portion of the population or any individual besides myself, but I’ve never read an historical document in person. And I don’t consider cursive a language, (since it isn’t) so the idea of it becoming a forgotten language isn’t something I believe in. And to your point about penmanship. It is taught. Kids go through 13 years of school (at least) doing handwritten assignments. They can obviously write. And their writing can be read. Doesn’t mean every single thing someone writes is always going to be perfectly written or legible to everyone else.

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      • I know most of my assignments were meant to be typed up because teachers didn’t want to have to read anyone’s handwriting, especially once I got up to high school. And I know it’s not a language, but if it comes to the point that no one can read that style it would be unfortunate, because then no matter what language the document is written in it would still be unreadable for the reader. And I’ve never once had to use science, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be taught. And there are plenty of museums that have such documents on display for people to read. And while working through college I worked in a historical archive and I did have to read stuff that was in cursive because I was having to get some information about a guy and the original person who wrote it years ago wrote it down in cursive. That happened a lot, and that wasn’t necessarily some big historical document, but it was the only copy of the information that was needed.

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      • Your entire argument is historical documents. Google or books can tell me exactly what these things say. And then I don’t have to worry about reading ink hundreds of years old. But you can. Have a nice time of it. I’ll stick to my nice, round letters in print. And when I come across something in cursive I’ll just read that too.

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      • To say that one isn’t going to be able to read cursive English because they’ve only ever printed is akin to saying that one won’t be able to understand English typed in italics because she is used to straight font. My kids can noodle through cursive just fine… they’re 9 and 11 and haven’t had much formal instruction. They occasionally try to write in cursive, because they think it’s funny. My daughter can type about 40 words per minute at age 11. Going forward… that’s going to serve her better. Guaranteed. And I also guarantee she’ll never be left wondering at original copies of historical documents no more than she’ll be baffled at Gothic Sans font.

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      • Oooh. Yep. To everything. Especially about her typing. I was just trying to think of jobs that don’t require typing on a regular basis and I’m not sure I thought of one. I mean, who doesn’t type at work nowadays? I know you’ll probably think of a number of professions that don’t need it, but it can’t be many. Also to your point about being able to read cursive, it’s not even much different from print. I’d be very surprised if someone told me they couldn’t read cursive. Regardless of whether or not they write it.

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  6. I learned the New Zealand form of cursive, which is basically italic print, joined up. Easy to write and easy to read, and I use it for everything I write that isn’t in a mad hurry. And since I find creative writing flows better by hand than by keyboard, that’s quite a lot of writing. I recently drafted a novel of nearly 160,000 words long-hand. (On which note: fountain-pens rule.)

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  7. This is the second time in the last couple of weeks this topic has come up for some reason.
    I have a hard time reading cursive, have for a long time now. I can read it but unless it’s uber neat I struggle with it.
    More often than not I print anything I write or use a mix of cursive and print. I think this trend started back in college when I learned shorthand (basically a lack of vowels, a few smooth strokes and a couple of dots, lol).
    I would much rather type my correspondence or anything I need to read later, it’s easier for me and everybody else to read. (I’m 48 so it’s not my schooling that’s the issue.)
    My job doesn’t require actual writing, other than my initials, and lots of subtracting, lol. I work in a factory working on machines so being able to read/write isn’t really a requirement.

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  8. Cursive is so pretty! I still use it because I think it’s faster than writing in print…

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  9. I use cursive all the time. I write lists and little notes of things to do and maybe notate something I read or saw on TV that I think I can use in one of my stories. Plus any editing I need to do, I do on a paper copy.

    One of the benefits is that my cursive is so complex very few people can read it, so my notes are safe from prying eyes. I worked hard to make it that way. And my signature — most people can’t even read it. But it’s not a scribble, it’s actual letters forming actual words, just with a twist and a flair that makes it unique. Pretty impossible for anyone to copy.

    I love fountain pens, too, and Flair felt-tip pens. Ball-points move too fast — faster than I can write. With a ball-point, my writing ends up looking like an EKG just before the flat-line! And I just can’t sit at the computer and type all day — gives me a headache, which writing never does.

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  10. I like cursive. I think it’s fun and really pretty (when done well). But the only time I personally use it is when I do calligraphy or some kind of artwork/decorating that has writing in it. Other than that, I just stick to my chicken scratch πŸ˜‡ I’ve only met two people my age who write in cursive regularly, and it’s only because they’re required to for school. (They go to a classical private school.) All the other people I know who write in cursive are over the age of 65 (i.e. my grandparents).

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  11. My handwriting is a swirling mixture of cursive and printing. Lots of loops that don’t quite connect and dots that never quite manage to land above their “i”s. For all its unruliness, then end product is usually quite nice to look at, if a struggle to read some of the time.

    I’m glad I learned to write cursive so I could have my own unique mess of handwriting.

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  12. I was taught cursive in school and I think that all children need to learn it still. I still write cursive. It is beautiful in my opinion.

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  13. I still hand write a little, especially poetry, which I tend to have a pen and paper to write wherever I may be. It’s sad that cursive has little to no place in today’s life. However, for fun I write cursive since I too learned it in school πŸ™‚

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  14. My handwriting by itself is slightly cursive. But if I do make it properly cursive, my hands shake. But I do love cursive πŸ™‚

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  15. I write cursive occasionally. When I’m writing plot points or idea in notebooks, I’ll write in cursive to change things up a little. Also, I have to sign my name daily at work, and it has to be cursive. I’ve also heard that signing your name in cursive makes it harder for people to forge your signature. That printing a signature is easy to copy. I don’t know how true that actually is.
    I guess I’m used to cursive for writing checks and other important documents, but I usually print, mostly because it’s faster.

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  16. I only ever write in cursive. I struggle to write in print. Usually when I try to write in print it turns into cursive anyway.
    To me cursive is important to be taught though because according to doctors, teaching young children cursive inherently helps them with functional motor skills in their hands, as well as help with their artistic skills.

    Either way I find cursive to be an important tool for numerous reasons. Going back to what someone else said about historical documents being in cursive I agree. My counter argument to the fact that those are online, is that if we lost the Internet and we need to see them, then we need to be able to read cursive as well.

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  17. Handwriting matters β€” but does cursive matter? The research is surprising. For instance, it has been documented that legible cursive writing averages no faster than printed handwriting of equal or greater legibility. (Sources for all research are listed below.)

    More recently, it has also been documented that cursive does NOT objectively improve the reading, spelling, or language of students who have dyslexia/dysgraphia.
    This is what I’d expect from my own experience, by the way. As a handwriting teacher and remediator, I see numerous children, teens, and adults β€” dyslexic and otherwise β€” for whom cursive poses even more difficulties than print-writing. (Contrary to myth, reversals in cursive are common β€” a frequent cursive reversal in my caseload, among dyslexics and others, is β€œJ/f.”)
    β€” According to comparative studies of handwriting speed and legibility in different forms of writing, the fastest, clearest handwriters avoid cursive β€” although they are not absolute print-writers either. The highest speed and highest legibility in handwriting are attained by those who join only some letters, not all: joining only the most easily joined letter-combinations, leaving the rest unjoined, and using print-like shapes for letters whose printed and cursive shapes disagree.

    Reading cursive still matters β€” but reading cursive is much easier and quicker to master than writing the same way too.

    Reading cursive, simply reading it, can be taught in just 30 to 60 minutes β€” even to five- or six-year-olds (including those with dyslexia) once they read ordinary print.

    There’s even a free iPad app teaching how: called β€œRead Cursive” β€” appstore.com/readcursive
    Given the importance of reading cursive, why not teach this vital skill quickly β€” for free β€” instead of leaving it to depend upon the difficult and time-consuming process of learning to write in cursive (which will cost millions to mandate)?

    We don’t require our children to learn to make their own pencils (or build their own printing presses) before we teach them how to read and write. Why require them to write cursive before we teach them how to read it? Why not simply teach children to read cursive β€” along with teaching other vital skills, such as a form of handwriting that is actually typical of effective handwriters?
    Just as each and every child deserves to be able to read all kinds of everyday handwriting (including cursive), each and every one of our children β€” dyslexic or not β€” deserves to learn the most effective and powerful strategies for high-speed high-legibility handwriting performance.
    Teaching material for practical handwriting abounds β€” especially in the UK and Europe, where such handwriting is taught at least as often as the accident-prone cursive which is venerated by too many North American educators. Some examples, in several cases with student work also shown: http://www.BFHhandwriting.com, http://www.handwritingsuccess.com, http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2009/09/08/opinion/OPED-WRITING.1.pdf, http://www.briem.net, http://www.HandwritingThatWorks.com, http://www.italic-handwriting.org, http://www.studioarts.net/calligraphy/italic/hwlesson.html, http://www.freehandwriting.net/educational.html )

    Even in the USA and Canada, educated adults increasingly quit cursive. In 2012, handwriting teachers across North America were surveyed at a conference hosted by Zaner-Bloser, a publisher of cursive textbooks. Only 37% wrote in cursive; another 8% printed. The majority β€” 55% β€” wrote with some elements resembling print-writing, others resembling cursive.
    (If you would like to take part in another, ongoing poll of handwriting forms β€” not hosted by a publisher, and not restricted to teachers β€” visit http://www.poll.fm/4zac4 for the One-Question Handwriting Survey, created by this author. As with the Zaner-Bloser teacher survey, so far the results show very few purely cursive handwriters β€” and even fewer purely printed writers. Most handwriting in the real world β€” 75% of the response totals, so far β€” consists of print-like letters with occasional joins.)
    When even most handwriting teachers do not themselves use cursive, why glorify it?

    Believe it or not, some of the adults who themselves write in an occasionally joined but otherwise print-like handwriting tell me that they are teachers who still insist that their students must write in cursive, and/or who still teach their students that all adults habitually and normally write in cursive and always will. (Given the facts on our handwriting today, this is a little like teaching kids that our current president is Richard Nixon.)

    What, I wonder, are the educational and psychological effects of teaching, or trying to teach, something that the students can probably see for themselves is no longer a fact?
    Cursive’s cheerleaders (with whom I’ve had some stormy debates) sometimes allege that cursive has benefits which justify absolutely anything said or done to promote that form of handwriting. The cheerleaders for cursive repeatedly state (sometimes in sworn testimony before school boards and state legislatures) that cursive cures dyslexia or prevents it, that it makes you pleasant and graceful and intelligent, that it adds brain cells, that it instills proper etiquette and patriotism, or that it confers numerous other blessings which are no more prevalent among cursive users than among the rest of the human race. Some claim research support β€” citing studies that invariably prove to have been misquoted or otherwise misrepresented by the claimant.

    So far, whenever a devotee of cursive claims the support of research, one or more of the following things has become evident as soon as others examined the claimed support:

    /1/ either the claim provides no source (and no source is provided on request)

    or, almost as often,

    /2/ when sources are cited and can be checked (by finding and reading the cited document), the sources provided turn out to include and/or to reference materials which are misquoted or incorrectly represented by the person(s) offering these as support for cursive,

    or, even more often,

    /3/ the claimant correctly quotes/cites a source which itself indulges in either /1/ or /2/.

    Cursive devotees’ eagerness to misrepresent research has substantial consequences, as the misrepresentations are commonly made β€” under oath β€” in testimony before school districts, state legislatures, and other bodies voting on educational measures. The proposals for cursive are, without exception so far, introduced by legislators or other spokespersons whose misrepresentations (in their own testimony) are later revealed β€” although investigative reporting of the questionable testimony does not always prevent the bill from passing into law, even when the discoveries include signs of undue influence on the legislators promoting the cursive bill? (Documentation on request: I am willing to be interviewed by anyone who is interested in bringing this serious issue inescapably before the public’s eyes and ears.)
    By now, you’re probably wondering: β€œWhat about cursive and signatures? Will we still have legally valid signatures if we stop signing our names in cursive?” Brace yourself: 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, the 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 at all, are fairly complicated: these make a forger’s life easy.

    All handwriting, not just cursive, is individual β€” just as all handwriting involves fine motor skills. That is why any first-grade teacher can immediately identify (from the print-writing on unsigned work) which of 25 or 30 students produced it.

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

    SOURCES:

    Handwriting research on speed and legibility:

    /1/ Arthur Dale Jackson. β€œA Comparison of Speed and Legibility of Manuscript and Cursive Handwriting of Intermediate Grade Pupils.”
    Ed. D. Dissertation, University of Arizona, 1970: on-line at http://www.eric.ed.gov/?id=ED056015

    /2/ Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, and Naomi Weintraub. β€œThe Relation between Handwriting Style and Speed and Legibility.” JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH, Vol. 91, No. 5 (May – June, 1998), pp. 290-296: on-line at http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/27542168.pdf

    /3/ Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, Naomi Weintraub, and William Schafer. β€œDevelopment of Handwriting Speed and Legibility in Grades 1-9.”
    JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH, Vol. 92, No. 1 (September – October, 1998), pp. 42-52: on-line at http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/27542188.pdf

    Zaner-Bloser handwriting survey: Results on-line at http://www.hw21summit.com/media/zb/hw21/files/H2937N_post_event_stats.pdf

    Ongoing handwriting poll: http://poll.fm/4zac4

    The research most often misrepresented by devotees of cursive (β€œNeural Correlates of Handwriting” by Dr. Karin Harman-James at Indiana University):
    https://www.hw21summit.com/research-harman-james

    Background on our handwriting, past and present:
    3 videos, by a colleague, show why cursive is NOT a sacrament:

    A BRIEF HISTORY OF CURSIVE β€”

    TIPS TO FIX HANDWRITING β€”

    HANDWRITING AND MOTOR MEMORY
    (shows how to develop fine motor skills WITHOUT cursive) β€”

    Yours for better letters,

    Kate Gladstone
    DIRECTOR, the World Handwriting Contest
    CEO, Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works
    http://www.HandwritingThatWorks.com
    handwritingrepair@gmail.com

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    • Wow. Thanks for the information. I think I could be tested on everything about cursive right now and score in the top one percentile. This is a real issue here. Hm. Definitely plenty to think about.

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      • Re:
        “I think I could be tested on everything about cursive right now and score in the top one percentile.”

        β€” unless, of course, the test is given by a promoter of “cursive at any cost, no matter what”! Such people, who include teachers and legislators among others, hard often been surprisingly frank with me about their willingness (which they wish I’d share) to misrepresent research and other information before students/parents and/or under oath, just so long as the misrepresentations advance cursive,

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  18. “hard” was meant to be “have” (I’m having trouble with auto-correct)

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