Cursive Making A Comeback

Ever since Common Core shifted focus from handwriting to keyboard typing skills, many states dropped the requirement for teaching grade-schoolers how to write in cursive. Now, some states are putting the skill back into their state requirements.

Illinois: Here

Ohio: Here

The loss of cursive handwriting skills among the young has been bothering me ever since I saw this year’s White House Christmas card.

47 Comments on Cursive Making A Comeback

  1. Loss of the ability to read cursive, America loses the ability to read our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Cursive, beautiful cursive, is a lost art.

    I am terrible at it. Mom still does it wonderfully.
    I’m a block letter printer.

    Need to work on that.

  2. There was an Asian Prof. a few years back making an argument against cursive because kids all use keyboards nowadays. What happens when keyboard goes down? Damn millennials can’t make change nowadays without cash register telling them how much. Discovered this during the eastern blackout about 20 years ago.

  3. I just tried to write cursive for the first time in decades. It ain’t pretty.
    New Years resolution. Practice cursive.
    Last year’s was to learn mil alphabet. Got it done in a week.
    Golf. —— hard to remember
    Hotel. —— also
    Uniform —— hardest to remember
    Whiskey —— easiest.

  4. I’ll admit that my cursive looks like garbage since school, but my kids look at it like a foreign language and ask me to teach them. Go fig.

    I submit that if you cannot read it, as my children say they cannot, then you cannot read historic documents… Say, such as our Constitution!

  5. I had the opportunity to view some letters sent home from the Civil War.
    The penmanship was awesome. Thinking a lot of this was written under what a 21st century Lazlo would label as harsh conditions, that is damn nice penmanship.
    And the language was flowing and a delight to read.
    “My dearest, and most precious sister, Dorcas, whom has reigned as the Crowning Flower of our wonderful home, it is with great trepidation that I take pen in hand to render unto your gaze a letter written in such a hasty setting; as it is written in a pigsty whence Lt. Davis and this humble author, your eldest brother are currently residing for the night.”
    I had a buddy go through Army Ranger school back in the eighties. I saw the postcard:
    “It me Mitch. “I am far away. In mud.
    Say hi to Mom, Dad, Kieth, Dogs, Wendy.”

  6. Not saying I had great penmanship but I don’t remember it taking all that long to learn how to write, just a few weeks at most.

  7. dang, there goes my ‘secret code’ … now my grandchildren will understand what I write!

    @Lazlo ~ & we consider ourselves more educated than those rubes from the 1860’s … yeah, right

  8. Had a friend who attended parochial school who had the most beautiful handwriting. She said the nuns placed a penny on students hands & if it fell off…whack goes the ruler!
    My cursive is legible, particularly if I wrote prescriptions.

  9. @PHenry ~ I still use that ‘alphabet’ every time I talk yell at ‘Tech Support’ or giving anyone my email address over the phone

    … old habits

  10. FLOTUS Melania’s signature is actually very much like her husbands.

    I read about a study a while back which concluded that children’s writing content improves with cursive since the linked letters create a flow that causes fewer interruptions to their thoughts. Instead of focusing on whether the letters are about the same size and shape, children focus on what they are writing about. Seems to make sense to me.

  11. My son learned cursive in kindergarten. It’s a Montessori thing. Children actually learn better this way. They don’t reverse letters and different parts of their brain are stimulated. They actually learn to read more easily.

  12. I went back to college when I was 47 and had to revive the skill of note-taking–in cursive–which I was taught when I was in elementary school years ago. I discovered that at least two of my very much younger classmates were printing their notes quite neatly and quickly. They informed me that they had never been taught to write in cursive in school. But they could have taught themselves easily, just didn’t.

  13. In my school, if you leaned over too closely to the paper you were writing cursive upon, the teacher would put a blob of ink on the tip of your nose.

    I got blobbed. I didn’t understand it in the third grade and I still don’t.

  14. @molon labe. Why reinvent the wheel? Just learn it if you don’t know it. It’s useful rather than trying to come up with your own word. K as in Kangaroo, for instance.

    I use mil for tech support or whatever needs alpha.
    Still have a problem with

    Won’t challenge but. They could have done better.
    QueerQueenLGBTQQQ something. Ok. Forget that. Quebec is fine. Too complicated.

  15. My daughter was home schooled up to high school and learned cursive. In public high school she took notes in cursive using her favorite fountain pen. Brownie point from some of the teachers. Many, perhaps most, of her classmates could not read cursive.

  16. My penmanship gives doctors a good name. From 1st grade on, I never could get the hang of the delicacy of a pen versus the weight of a 6 lb. sledge.

  17. One of my kids is a future artist, his handwriting is great, the other is beyond repair already. As a kid I loved handwriting, used to write out books in cursive word-for-word in a notebook to make the story ‘mine’. My handwriting sucks, but every now and then a perfect set of letters forming a beautifully written word will flow onto the paper, never to be duplicated.

  18. I begin to lose it with the m’s and n’s. Once those bumps come the bumps just keep propagating. My real signature has plenty of M’s in it. But

    Remember how Arnold Palmer excoriated his fellow golfers to spend time to make sure their autographs were legible?

  19. I still write that way, but modified that “2” looking capital “Q” to look more like the capotal “O” with the line going down like a printed capital “Q”. Of course, note taking in college messed up my handwriting, but when I write a check, I go back to the classic style, but use printing on the payee line to specifically spell out the name of the company.

  20. @jellybean

    I had to sign a rental car contract today. It was apparently acceptable. Ugly. Inconsistent.
    I got more grief from my last firearm purchase.
    Also inconsistent. But the gun store wasn’t accepting of my sloppiness. You won’t hear about that.

  21. Handwriting matters — but does cursive matter? Research shows that legible cursive writing averages no faster than printed handwriting of equal or greater legibility. (Sources for all research are provided at the bottom of this letter.)
    Further research shows that the fastest, clearest handwriters avoid cursive. They join only the most easily joined letter-combinations, leaving others unjoined, using print-like shapes for letters whose printed and cursive shapes disagree. (Many people who think that they “print” actually write in this practical way without realizing that they do so. The handwriting of many teachers comes close: even though, often, those teachers have never noticed that they are not at all writing in the same 100% print or 100% cursive that they demand that their students should write.)
    Teaching material for such practical handwriting abounds — especially in much of the UK and Europe, where such practical handwriting is taught at least as often as the accident-prone cursive that too many North American educators venerate. (Again, sources are available on request.)

    For what it’s worth, there are some parts of various countries (parts of the UK, for instance, despite their mostly sensible handwriting ) where governmental mandates for 100% joined cursive handwriting have been increasingly enforced, without regard for handwriting practicality and handwriting research.
    In those parts of the world, the introduction of cursive mandates has been quickly followed by rapidly mounting concerns about the increasingly observed harmful educational/literacy effects (including bad effects on handwriting quality) seen when 100%-joined cursive handwriting requirements are complied with:

    Reading cursive, of course, remains important —and this is much easier and quicker to master than writing cursive. Reading cursive can be mastered in just 30 to 60 minutes, even by kids who print.
    Given the importance of reading cursive, why not teach it explicitly and quickly, once children can read print, instead of leaving this vital skill to depend upon learning to write in cursive?

    Educated adults increasingly quit cursive. In 2012, handwriting teachers were surveyed at a conference hosted by cursive textbook publisher Zaner-Bloser.. Only 37% wrote in cursive; another 8% printed. Most — 55% — wrote with some elements resembling print-writing, others resembling cursive.

    When even most handwriting teachers do not follow cursive, why glorify it? Cursive’s cheerleaders allege that cursive has benefits justifying absolutely anything said or done to promote it. Cheerleaders for cursive repeatedly allege research support — repeatedly citing studies that were misquoted or otherwise misrepresented by the claimant or by some other, earlier misrepresenter whom the claimant innocently trusts.
    What about cursive and signatures? Brace yourself: in state and federal law, cursive signatures have no special legal validity over any other kind. (Hard to believe? Ask any attorney!) A case in point is the legal signature of our nation’s new Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin. His legal signature is in print-writing, not in cursive — and begins to appear on our legal tender next month, when the New Year begins. At that moment, it will become impossible to claim that legal signatures require cursive: because any citizen, even any schoolchild with a dollar in hand will immediately see otherwise — and will be able to prove otherwise, to any worshiper of cursive, just by throwing down that dollar. For documentation, including pictures of Mnuchin’s official printed signature, see
    Questioned document examiners (specialists in the identification of signatures, verification of documents, etc.) find that the least forgeable signatures are the plainest — including the growing number of printed signatures.. Most cursive signatures are loose scrawls: the rest, if following cursive’s rules at all, are fairly complicated: easing forgery.
    All handwriting, not just cursive, is individual. That is how any first-grade teacher immediately discerns (from print-writing on unsigned work) which child produced it.

    Mandating cursive to save handwriting resembles mandating stovepipe hats and crinolines to save clothing.

    Kate Gladstone
    DIRECTOR, the World Handwriting Contest
    CEO, Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works

  22. OKAY now! My husband found a very old letter (early 1800’s) written by some random man, and collected as an antiquity by my grand-mother in-law. The penmanship is glorious. The language is high-flown puffery. But amazing. The only “meat” in the thing was two scrunched little lines stuck in at the very end about some politician. The rest was soaring rhetorical nonsense. Great fun to read – but NO ONE under forty could probably make out 10% of the thing. I transcribed it fully. I have weird hobbies.
    I have very nice cursive writing, though I rarely write much these days. I do still address my letters by hand and one day when I took a letter into the post office to mail, the clerk complimented me on my beautiful hand writing, then asked me if a capitol “F” was an “F”. *sigh*

  23. MJA, I wrote a little note (on a parchment square) to include in a Christmas card to my boss, but before sealing the envelope I showed it to a co-worker, to see if she thought it was “OK”. She said it looked like the Constitution – I laughed my ass off.

  24. Due to the death of an old friend, I had occasion earlier this year to look through some items that my mom had when she passed years earlier. I found a letter (circa 1972) I had written to her with a news clipping for the band I was in with my friend. I was still at that point attempting to write cursive. It was horrible(my writing, not the band)
    I’m a southpaw and always leaned left because I refused to curl my hand like a stroke victim and turn the paper in the same direction as the right handed teachers were trying to force me to do. But I digress, my penmanship still sucks, that’s why I print.

  25. OTOH – Poor penmanship is a great advantage if you can’t spell. People will be so pleased they finally figured out what you wrote to them they won’t critisize or poke fun at you about your misspelled words. They probably won’t even detect them.

  26. By the Sun-god Ra, it moves me to anger that the children no longer care to learn their hieroglyphics, and spend their time in idleness and sloth. Where do they think the next generation of scribes will come from – the mouth of the Sphinx, or perhaps the waters of the Nile? Who will maintain the sacred scrolls in the temple when no one knows how to make a [dung beetle symbol] or a [standing jackal-headed god symbol]?

    Obviously the youth of Egypt do not give a [man squatting in reeds symbol] about their future, and their only desire is to sit around on their asp.

  27. I loved the Schaeffer fountain pens growing up. It’s what I used mostly for writing in cursive including note taking in HS and college. And I used to write letters (remember letters) with a fountain pen, it’s been a long time since I wrote letters and I still have a small box of them written in cursive from back in the 70’s when I was in the Navy back in the 70’s both from myself and my mom and dad and my best friend. You gotta love snail mail, it’s so archaic and old fashioned but hopefully making a comeback and besides it’s private for the most part unlike social media and fakebook. And I think better as well as write better when I take the time to put my words on paper.

  28. Recently, I went to my 50 year college reunion/homecoming. A lot of us old fogies were talking about the old days of sliderules, manual typewriters, actually living in the dorms, walking everywhere to classes,having to go to the library and do research with real books, not even having a car, etc.
    We also did our tests via handwritten answers in the little blue books.
    Oh, and if I needed to call home, I used the pay phone at the end of the hall and called collect. If my parents needed to contact me, they called the dorm and the floor monitor would contact me so I could take the call down the hall.


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