Cursive on its way out?

I hope I’m not being a stubborn old lady when I say I’m concerned about the apparent trend away from teaching cursive handwriting in schools. Doesn’t that fall under the second “R” — “Reading, wRiting and ‘Rithmatic”?

I’ve seen stories reporting that 41 states no longer require learning cursive in grade school, Georgia plans to drop cursive instruction from curricula next fall, and 85% of today’s college students print when writing by hand.

The argument is that it’s a waste of time to teach a skill not tested by No Child Left Behind. Or that kids no longer use cursive; they prefer computers or texting. Really? The tests and the kids determine what will be taught? That’s it? Nothing more?

The first thing I always think about is the kids too poor to have smart phones and computers and Internet access. These things are expensive. Surely not every American child has them at home. Surely No Child Left Behind doesn’t intend to leave behind those without computers.

In my old-fashioned way, I still think kids should be taught to write thank you notes and letters (snail mail, with stamps and everything), although I suppose they could print those. And what about reading cursive? There’s still a lot of it around. I think children should learn to read it, if only so they can read historical documents (like the Declaration of Independence or Grandma’s old love letters). And I cringe to think of a supposedly “educated” person printing his signature to endorse a check or sign a legal document.

So, yes, I think it’s a terrible idea. I think any school that doesn’t teach cursive handwriting is cheating the child, just as if they didn’t teach music or art. I’ll bet those things aren’t on the standardized tests either.

8 thoughts on “Cursive on its way out?

  1. Playing Devils Advocate here… Schools drop subjects from the curriculum as they succumb to disuse routinely. I have a math text that my Dad used in the early 1900’s. The had to memorize conversions for a variety of units of measure that most people have never heard of today… Like nails, leagues, chains, pecks, etc. As these units were used less and less, they were dropped. In hindsight, I think it made sense, but at the time, I’ll bet there were protesters who argued that the kids would suffer. The subject of another of his text books was Greek Mythology. He had to learn the names of all the Greek Gods and their corresponding Roman Gods. Today’s evangelicals would have a hissy fit today, but back then that knowledge was seen as “culture.” Like cursive writing is to us today.

    1. I can understand dropping outdated subjects. I’m just not sure cursive handwriting falls into that category. Or maybe it does, and I’m just reluctant to admit it. Not that my opinion will make an ounce of difference either way.

    1. I thought about that. I suppose your signature can be anything you want it to be. People who can’t read and write are allowed to “make their mark”– just an X. Wouldn’t be my choice on a legal document or business letter, but it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been accused of being resistant to change.

  2. Good riddance. I learned cursive in third grade and it made me miserable. The teacher told us “you’d better get used to it, because from now until you graduate, all of your papers are going to have to be in cursive.” Guess what? In fourth grade, the teacher told us we could print or use cursive. So did every other teacher. I promptly stopped using cursive as soon as I could.

    Not only is it a pain in the butt to write, it’s also a pain in the butt to read. My mom always leaves me notes in cursive even though I tell her I can’t read them. To me, they just look like squiggles mashed together. Today I got a paper back from my professor and he had something scrawled across there in cursive and for the life of me I can’t read it. I stared at it for a good five minutes before I gave up. There’s a reason why many forms say “print, please.” Some people have legible cursive, but in my experience, most don’t.

    The sooner cursive goes away, the better. There’s no reason why students can’t just be taught to sign their names and nothing more.

    1. So, what happens when female students get married and choose to change their names? They have to have their husband teach them to sign it in cursive? That seems pretty ridiculous to me.

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