Should we still teach cursive?

Is cursive doomed to become a relic of history?  New national teaching standards, to be implemented by 45 states next year, are pointing away from cursive in favor of technology.  From the Goshen News (hat-tip to Linda):

Those standards include proficiency in computer keyboarding by the fourth grade, but make no mention of the need for cursive writing ability, even though it has been integral to American culture since the nation’s founding.

That lack of mention has moved schools to abandon resources and courses once devoted to teaching penmanship — much to the dismay of those who say the curriculum change will eventually lead to an inability to comprehend both historic and contemporary handwritten documents, including identifying signatures.

Supporters of the change aren’t concerned. They say that today’s textbooks and other reading material are widely available in electronic form — on computers, tablets, e-readers and smartphones. As for signatures, they predict scanned eyeballs and fingerprints are destined to replace scribbled names. Hand writing, they insist, is simply no longer worth time-consuming lessons.

I thought a little about how I write.  I haven’t penned anything in pure cursive in years.  I’d probably call what I do a print/cursive hybrid.  Most of the letters start out as block letters, but sometimes meld together, linked by cursive-esque loops.  It’s the opposite of beautiful.  I’m not even sure how legible it is to anyone besides the writer.

Different culture, different reality?

My shaky penmanship aside, I do wonder if an emphasis away from the printed word has led us to get a little sloppy with the language.  How much of our text is generated by hand, and how much by pressing keys or a touchscreen? 80% in favor of electronic?  90% maybe?

Cursive TeachingI’m hardly perfect myself, but a lot of the online communication I see nowadays (often devoid of punctuation or capitalization)  makes me wonder where we’re headed.   Or maybe people who create those messages would write that way with a pen too.

Amish children, for what it’s worth, learn cursive in schools.  It is used regularly for letter-writing and for some, to even do things like create homemade business cards.  But most of the text they’ll produce in their lives won’t be via a laptop or smartphone touchscreen.  For today’s non-Amish children, it’s a different story.

Did you learn cursive in school?  Should we still teach children cursive, or are resources better spent elsewhere?

Cursive notebook photo: theilr/flickr

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    1. Roberta

      Yes, I learned cursive in school. Although, my mother, who learned Palmer Method, says I didn’t. I also learned to touch type. Too bad children nowadays are too “fontally impaired” to do both.

    2. SharonR

      Should we still teach Cursive

      Yes, I too, learned cursive in school, as well as my 2 sons, who are now both grown. One of them I can’t read his writing at all, and the other one writes fairly well… I wonder about how these students (future adults) will be able to “sign” on the dotted line, if they have no “signature” or way to write their name — I guess they still learn how to PRINT????

      I realize most things are now iPhone driven or computer driven, but at times you still need to “sign” for something official, and that signature is also stored with the government entities for identity, too.

      Cheers for the Amish in still teaching their children the basics!!!

    3. New York State of Mind

      I learned the Palmer Method (shows my age). I can write very well, but you can’t read my printing.

    4. I learned cursive in school. I remember when I was in grade 4 and the teacher said that if I did a good job, I could write in erasable pen. I worked very hard at it. I homeschool my kids and I do teach cursive. That’s how I write. I dislike printing…tool slow.

    5. I love cursive, but many times my writing is a mixure of printing and cursive, unless I write a letter and try hard to stick with cursive. Don’t think it will ever make a comeback as far as teaching it is concerned, even though programs like Handwriting Without Tears strongly promote it. And that is too bad, since it is a useful skill to have – no matter how many tech toys one has, there are still times when pen and paper are used.

      1. Benefits of developing handwriting skills

        I was wondering if there are beneficial effects beyond just being able to write attractively. This suggests so, though it seems to be referring to handwriting in general and not cursive specifically:

        Putting actual pen to paper can have significant benefits for brain development, the Los Angeles Times reports. Recent research has found that when students develop their handwriting, they also increase their brain activity and improve their fine motor skills. Similar benefits were not detected when kids were typing or simply repeating their lessons verbally.

        Scientists compared the neuroimage scans of preschoolers who were practicing printing as they were learning their letters and those who were just doing verbal repetition.

        After four weeks of training, the kids who practiced writing showed brain activation similar to an adult’s, said James, the study’s lead researcher. The printing practice also improved letter recognition, which is the No. 1 predictor of reading ability at age 5.

        1. SharonR

          Should we still teach cursive

          GOOD to know, Erik — seems like that is good enough reason for teaching cursive! Our future generations do need their brains stimulated beyond the “electronic” devices! 🙂

    6. Loretta T

      Should we learn cursive

      I, too, learned cursive as did my 3 chi;dren. I have very good penmanship and so do my children. I have wondered if it is an ‘almost’ inherited talent because my parents and siblings have very good penmanship to the point we have comments made on it.

      Computers are the coming thing but in the rural areas it is slow getting there. We got DSL 3 yrs ago and some of the neighbors across the highway, or, a half a mile down the road still doesn’t have it because the phone company said it is too expensive to lay the cable in these areas.

      So when would cursive, or even printing, not be of benefit to most.
      I would like to think we aren’t moving in that direction, computer tech or not, but what do we senior adults have to say about it!

    7. SharonR

      Should we still teach cursive?

      Good thoughts, Loretta T — My mom had beautiful handwriting, thanks to learning cursive “way back when” — and at age 98, was still able to write pretty well, even when she was “signing” papers when hospitalized!! Had a minimal amount of shake to the signature, but for the most part, still VERY readable and her “style” still showed!!! God rest her soul!!

    8. Erin

      I learned cursive and my two children are learning it as well. They learned a font called D’Nealian which is a style of writing derived from the Palmer method (letters have monkey tails). It makes it a lot easier to transition to cursive. I have an in-home childcare and I begin teaching the children D’Nealian at the age of two.

      This topic made me think about how infrequently I write letters. I emailed my 87 year old Grandma several weeks ago asking for a recipe and I was a little sad that she didn’t respond. Then, a three page handwritten letter arrived. I can’t remember if it was printed or cursive, but all the same, what a treat it was!

    9. Naomi Wilson

      This post made me smile. I wrote a letter by hand just the other day, for the first time in years. I used my best cursive (which has never been what I would like it to be), and wrote a first, and then a final draft. I had to go slow, because I was out of practice! I used good ol’ lined notebook paper and filled two pages. This all happened because I announced to my friends that I am planning to close my facebook account. An old friend took the initiative and sent me an old fashioned letter to commemorate my decision. It was such a treat, it made me determined to get back to writing real letters.

      Also, my five year old son is enjoying working his way through the first Pathway penmanship book. Here’s hoping he’ll develop good handwriting skills. I’m impressed with the neat writing of all my Amish acquaintances.

      1. From my observations Amish women, probably like English women, generally have better penmanship than their male counterparts.

    10. Debbie

      Yes I learned cursive. I still take notes by hand in cursive. It helps me remember. When I was in school we learned to spell by writing our words 20 times. The ones we missed, 100 times. My husband did not have to write his spelling words at all. He can’t spell even simple word; I spell very well. I guess we are living proof that writing stimulates learning. By the way, I failed typing. 🙂

      Oh, I still read books, I hate e-books.

    11. Theresa

      cursive in schools

      Yes by all means continue teaching this. What will someone do if the power goes out? They won’t know how to write. I worked in the schools for a time as a custodian & the so called writings the kids did was very sloppy. I believe penmanship is an art that should not be forgotten.

    12. Margaret

      Mixed feelings

      I learned curvisive in school as did many others. Perhaps with all the cuts to school this would be an excellent way to include parents in their kids lives more directly. They could get penmanship books online and ACTUALLY teach their kids at home. I happen to write two or three checks a month! That’s about it unless I’m trying to divide a recipe into something more manageable. Recipes give you something for family size which is HUGE for a family of one.

      Plus you still need curvisive to sign legal docs when you buy a home. It isn’t enough to use your pin or drivers license. We ARE doing our kids a disservice by not fully educating them. Whether kids leave or quit school is another issue altogether. We need to empower our kids. Give them all the skills and tools we had. What they choose to do with it is not the question here.

      My father taught me you listen to everything someone has to say and then chuck 90% of it. But the 10% you keep is not lit up, it doesn’t glow in the dark. YOU have to figure out yourself what is the important stuff.

    13. Tim

      I too, learned to write cursive. What will happen to treasured heirlooms that are written in cursive from our ancestors? I have my deceased mother’s cookbooks, one with all her hand written recipes and notes, all in cursive of course. The family Bible that has been in my family for four generations, with the births, deaths, and information all written in cursive. It seems the smarter we get as a nation, the “more stupid” we become.
      And also on another note, folks in my area talk of the policy ” No child left behind”, where a child cannot fail a course in school, no matter how little they learn. I was taught that you worked hard, made good grades, and did your best to make something of yourself. Is this truly where America is headed?

    14. Laura

      I’m left-handed, and although I learned cursive, my handwriting was pretty terrible — until sixth grade, when an old-fashioned teacher taught me properly as a left-hander. I still have very good curvise thanks to her. But my kids’ cursive is pretty awful — my daughter’s is at least readable, but by the time my son was born eight years later, they were starting keyboarding and so he never really learned cursive properly, so he still prints. Although my husband does, too, and he’s in his early sixties!

      Even though I know it’s not needed much these days, I still like to have nice handwriting, even if only for filling in forms or something like that. It will be a shame if clear cursive becomes a lost art; I look at handwriting from a century ago and am just astonished at how beautifully it seemed like *everybody* could write. Who will be able to read those historical documents if cursive becomes a lost art? I’d really hate to see beautiful cursive consigned to the dustbin of history!

      1. I learned cursive I suppose in my early elementary period, though I can’t quite remember exactly which grade. I do remember when I learned to type on a keyboard properly, though–1992, in 9th grade. That was well before computers were such a part of our lives.
        We practiced on typewriters, not keyboards. I don’t know if anyone realized at the time how much we’d use that particular skill.

    15. OldKat

      Not surprising

      After 36 years in the classroom, my wife is retiring from teaching elementary school at the end of this school year. She has been telling me for at least 15 years that the children are coming in every year less and less prepared to learn. She said they know plenty of “stuff”, but unfortunately little of it relates to what is being taught in the classroom.

      She said that on one hand the children that she has for the last 5 to 7 years are among the brightest she has ever had in her classroom, in terms of ability to use technology, etc. On the other hand they are also among the most undisciplined, self absorbed and least capable of actually applying what they have learned in the classroom to solving future problems.

      She said that the current crop of students has ZERO interest in actually learning anything; they just want the “A” for the Honor Roll. One of the most frequent questions that she hears from her students is “Why can’t you just GIVE us the answer?” (To a test or quiz question, etc)

      Our son completed his masters degree at a regional university about a year and a half ago & for two years before that he taught undergraduate classes there. He said that he frequently was asked the exact same thing. So I asked our daughter who, just last summer, completed a PhD at a large land grant university in another state if she ever got that question from her students. She said “All the time”.

      So I don’t know if teaching cursive is important or nor, but from what I am hearing all over the country teachers are experiencing the same thing my wife did & increasingly they are opting out of the situation rather than trying to deal with it.

    16. Eli S.

      Ah yes, nice handwriting. It looks so neat and organized. But unfortunately, I was never able to master it. Not for lack of practice, mind you, as my teacher would give me extra assignments in handwriting. Lifting your pen in the middle of a word was not allowed. I can tell you without a doubt that if this message had to be written in cursive, it would not exist. I have what is medically called essential tremors and cannot control my fingers to do tedious work. My best handwriting is in block letters. I look at lovely handwriting and sigh. I could not do that if my life depended on it. Computers came along and dark rub-out marks were a thing of the past. Should this generation learn cursive? When all things electronic fail. pens will still work. So yes, it is a basic form of communication.

    17. Jane Foard Thompson

      cursive has value

      1) My great-grandmother come from Switzerland (I believe the Second Wave of Anabaptists) and we have numerous letters she wrote my great-grandfather before they married (he was from SW Germany). Only special linguists are able to read and translate the old German, so we don’t know what is in the letters. Won’t that be the same for future generations who don’t learn cursive?
      2) I was a Montessori teacher for 25 years, and teacher/trainer. We started with cursive writing because the slanted, gentle shapes are easier for a young writer than straight lines, plus you don’t have b and d or q and p reversals in cursive, so you preclude a lot of early reader problems. (A lot of American Montessori schools have succumbed to the pressure to be like public schools and start with print, but they have also increased the early writer/reader problems along with it.) Adding this to the research results in the LA Times report you referenced should convince the educational establishment to reconsider. (Unfortunately, it won’t.)

      1. Don Curtis

        Translating letters

        If you make copies of the letters and send them to my son, Mark, I’m sure he’d give it a shot at translating your great grandmother’s letters for you. If he couldn’t he could probably find someone in his community who could.

        1. George Moore

          Mr. Curtis I would like for you to ask your son a question for me if you wouldn’t mind. IM very interested in becoming Amish but I have some tattoos and IM just wondering if it’s possible for me to become Amish

          1. Don Curtis


            Hello George. Well, I asked Mark about tattoos. He said that tattoos are taboos among the Amish. However, as you weren’t Amish when you had them done it probably wouldn’t be held against you. However, many Amish communities might ask you to wear a long-sleeved shirt to hide them. Of course, this would all depend upon the community, etc.

            1. George Moore

              Mr. Don Curtis

              Hello again Mr. Curtis I hope you don’t mind but I saw where you gave your sons address to somebody and I want to ask if you could ask your son if it would be alright if It would be ok if I was to write him. Thank you very much! I hope you or him won’t mind me writing to him because I have a lot of questions.

      2. Interesting Jane on the letter reversals. Not something I’d ever thought of but something that astute educators in that age group no doubt would. I thought a minute and true the traditional cursive d and b are nothing like each other. The lower case b does veer close to the l though.

        Since resource allocation is being used to assess this, I wonder how many classroom hours are actually devoted to teaching cursive?

    18. carebear57

      I, too, learned cursive writing in school (the 60’s). We had lessons on classroom TV & I remembering practicing my loops, making sure they were closed, dotting those “i”s & crossing those “t”s. For many years I worked as a professional resume writer & often when writing I would get out my trusty pen & paper to write down ideas & things I wanted to get across to the reader. I found it stimulated my thinking process to physically take pen to paper to list my thoughts & ideas before entering them on the computer. And today I still do hand-written thank you notes for birthday & Christmas presents. It’s something I emphasized to my now 27-year-old son when he was growing up. And, of course, there are all those wonderful love letters from my husband when we were dating. They are a treasure to be cherished & preserved.

      1. The present generation has love text messages…not quite as romantic, and you can’t tuck them away in a box to be discovered years later.

    19. Annmarie

      I learned cursive and four of my five are doing/done cursive in third, and fourth grade. My youngest will be entering kindergarten in September and I can only hope they do not eliminate this valuable lesson from the curriculum. If they do, I can always buy books online however, when all your lessons are expected in cursive for a few grades you use it with more ease. There is a big problem with the education system…if you look at the Amish and how they learn, I would assume there is NOT this rushed sense of learning. I say this because of their slower paced lifestyle, Our kids are forced to move on from one topic to next before they fully master the topic at hand. That leaves them frustrated. I see it with my own 5 kids. NO CHILD is alike and to expect them to master something in a “decided” time frame…is UNFAIR. I don’t think my education as a child was too shabby and we did not “turbo” our way through lessons. We spent a reasonable amount of time LEARNING….
      I will leave you with a quote from Albert Einstein
      “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

    20. ADalton

      I’m in college, and I learned cursive in elementary school. I’ve never been very good at it. I really only use it when I need to sign my name on a document. Even the teacher/professors who insist on taking notes by hand will accept writing in print. If it’s true that writing something by hand helps you remember things, wouldn’t the benefits also apply to print?
      I think that it’s good for elementary students to learn to sign their names in cursive because it will help them sign documents. Otherwise, I think it is better taught as an elective in high school or college. Although I appreciate having learned cursive, I realize that it isn’t relevant for a lot of people. I like being able to read old documents, but not everyone does. I think the option to learn cursive should be made available to students at some point, but it should not be compulsory.

    21. Missy

      I too learned cursive as a child. I can understand however why the schools are choosing not to teach it. There is limited time and money to teach subjects, and apart from signing your name on checks and other legal documents, how often do we actually use cursive these days? It’s sad and I’m glad both my children have learned cursive, but I do understand the reasoning behind the change.

    22. I found this interesting bit in the Cursive Wiki. I could see critics of cursive using it to point out how this sort of writing is archaic, but I find this pretty charming nonetheless:

      The origin of the cursive method is associated with practical advantages of writing speed and infrequent pen lifting to accommodate the limitations of the quill. Quills are fragile, easily broken, and will spatter unless used properly. Steel dip pens followed quills; they were sturdier, but still had some limitations.


      While the terms cursive or script are popular in the United States for describing this style of writing the Latin script, this term is rarely used elsewhere. Joined-up writing is more popular in the United Kingdom and Ireland, running writing, double writing and cursive is popular with Australian schoolchildren, and linking is more popular in New Zealand.

    23. Lattice

      My children learned to write in cursive in the third grade. Their teacher attends the same church as we. One day we were discussing it and she said that by the time today’s kids are in high school, they are no longer using cursive at all. She anticipates it will eventually be removed from the curriculum, as there’s too much to cover already; Some schools are presently no longer covering it.

      I write and receive lots of letters from my plain friends, always in cursive. I anticipate that one day cursive writing will be another one of those things that the world tosses away for something newer (iPads, etc.) and the Plain cling to as evidence of separation.

    24. Eli

      Your right on the dip pens. I learned cursive in school and quickly gave it up. A few years ago I purchased a dipping pen and ink to try out. It is an art unto itself but after several tries it became clear the reason for cursive. It is almost impossible to print nicely with one of those guys.

      I work for a surveyor and find myself digging into 100 – 200 year old deeds sometimes. They look pretty but can be impossible to read sometimes. Imagine trying to scan a long document for a minor change in a technical property description written in that manor. It hurts your head. It would not be as difficult for someone 150 years ago, I’m sure.

      I’m sticking with my mechanical typewriter for non digital communication. I enjoy the click clacking 🙂

      1. Eli last time I was in Lancaster someone Amish was circulating a deed of some sort signed by William Penn’s sons. It was on some sort of sheep skin. Talk about difficult to read, we pored over it for awhile and could hardly make anything out. I can see how your head might hurt after a while of these.

    25. Eli

      Now that I think about it, if they are going to teach cursive they should do it with a quill or dip pen. The reason for it becomes obvious and, once you get the hang of the pen, cursive will follow naturally.

      I suppose some pigtails might get dipped in the ink well, too though.

    26. Slightly-handled-Order-man

      I’ve volunteered at a museum where I’ve supervised an activity that shows children quill and ink writing, and, honestly, that is tough to do, or at least when it’s your first try and your not used to it, it’s hard to master. I often wonder how great works of literature or politics where written such writing utensils. I know staffers who have done it for years and it is beautiful and reflects their own childhood with neat (clear and easy to read) cursive.

    27. Darlene

      Teaching Cursive

      I presently teach 3rd grade in a public school. I teach cursive every day for 10-15 minutes. Some of my students who have special needs continue to work on printing but the rest are encouraged to write in cursive as much as they can after we finish learning to form and connect all lowercase letters. Sometimes I request certain assignments to be completed in cursive only so the children can build stamina in cursive writing.

      We also look at documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution during social studies. The students always marvel at the fact that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence with a quill pen, on parchment, by candlelight, no less. They also enjoy looking at the signatures and finding the names of the patriots we’ve read about and studied.

      As is mentioned here quite often Amish groups differ greatly from group to group, district to district, and region to region. The same can be said of school districts and teachers.

    28. Quill

      I learned to print pre-school. In the fourth grade, we were NOT allowed to use ‘stick’ or ‘fountain’ pens. Quill pens were required. We are talking the early sixties, in a old order Mennonite community school. The rationale was that if we could do quill, we could use any pen, and be legible. In the sixth, we learned keyboard on manual typewriters.


      1. Quill, II

        It would not let me go back and edit. Sorry. Cursive started in the fourth grade, both cursive and the quills, were introduced together.

        Even today I carry a sharp small pen-knife. And in my desks are stones in a leather ‘stwop’ (strop) sheaths.


    29. Eli


      Can you elaborate on the stones in the “stwop” sheath? It sounds very interesting. Is it a matter of carving a quill tip and sharpening it with a stone, like sharpening a knife?

    30. Sarah

      Stwop sheath


      The stones are two sided man made ‘dry’ sharpening stone. About 1x2x3/8 and are for sharpening the knife, not the quill. I am not talking of the diamond impregnated stones or steels, which have too aggressive a cut.

      The sheaths are sewed together sandwich leather pouches. The leather is ‘shirred’ strop leather. Normal leather sharpening and stropping, like for a straight edge razor, use long strokes. But with pen knives, it is a circular motion.

      I do not have the company name handy, but most I have seen are from an advertizing company, as they stamp print advertizing on them. If you visit an Amish ‘mud’ sale around here, you will often find them for a dollar or so, in keg barrels.


    31. Eli

      Ahhh…sharpening the knife. I should have known that 🙂

      I was picturing some kind of quill making technique.

    32. Alice Mary

      I learned the Palmer method in Grade 2, but we were required to buy and use fountain pens (the kind with plastic, cylindrical refills). I think I had switched schools (mid 4th grade) before using ball point pens.

      My kids learned cursive, I believe my son learned Palmer, while my daughter (6 years younger) learned D’Nealian, which I found to be easier (I could see how printing in it would segue much more smoothly to cursive than the way I learned Palmer). It is as much as an art as a practical skill. I remember how we’d practice our signatures, knowing that “important” (“grown-up”) papers needed an actual SIGNATURE in cursive.

      I agree with those here who mentioned being able to read cursive as useful when reading hand-written documents. Absolutely! How else will we learn from history if we can no longer decipher it (read cursive)!

      Here’s a way to get the kids to learn cursive: threaten that when you die, you’ll insist in your will that they sign their inheritance checks in nothing BUT cursive—or be written (in cursive!) out of your will!

      People in general need to learn patience these days—cursive teaches THAT!

      Alice Mary

    33. Eli

      How is this for hard to read (from wikipedia) :

      “A crossed letter is a handwritten letter which contains two separate sets of writing, one written over the other at right-angles.[1] This was done during the early days of the postal system in the 19th century to save on expensive postage charges, as well as to save paper. The technique is also called cross-hatching.”

    34. Alice Mary

      Eli, how interesting! I’ll bet I could read it if it were printed out on standard computer/typing paper.It’s like a puzzle—intriguing! I wonder if my husband (a retired Postmaster)ever saw one of these?

      Now,if you didn’t know how to read CURSIVE, one might think this example was a piece of wallpaper! 😉

      Alice Mary

    35. Cathie segal


      This thread makes me feel really old.

      I can not imagine not knowing how to read or write cursive.. I use my I-phone, my I-pad, a pc and a laptop outside of work, and am on comptuters all day at the office, but use cursive a lot. Cant imagine it not being taught in our schools. It is a major form if communication, and there really are people out there who do not have easy computer access, or who (like the Amish) can not have electricuty in their homes, far less a computer.

      I have some elderly relatives i would never be able to have contact with if E-mail or texting were the only forms of written communication available for them.

      I have recently started a family tree, and reading those old documents, seeing words written by family gone long before i was born……it was just wonderful to see and read.

      Goodness, i have said a bit to much………but YES, cursive should still be a requirement in school.


      1. Cathie segal

        Ouch. Guess i should have proofed that a bit more before sending.

        Sorry for the typos


      2. ADalton

        Wouldn’t print still be perfectly good for writing letters?

    36. Sandra Kathleen


      I can’t remember learning cursive — I think it may have been in 2nd grade?…and I certainly don’t know the “system” used, but I do remember the ways my teachers (in 50s/60s) “encouraged” its use and practice. Every day there would be a new song or poem (or two) to write out in our notebooks. In 5th grade, I was required to outline all the chapters of my history and science textbooks. Cursive was pretty much the only way to do this quick enough to matter, even if it hadn’t been the only way “required!”

      On a related note, we also had to copy problems from our arithmetic books onto our own paper — no ditto sheets or copier-printed papers. If the problem was written down incorrectly, it was wrong. And we had at least 20 to 30 problems to do each evening.

      Thus, by 6th grade I had learned:
      > perseverance in a task that was often tedious;
      > attention to detail;
      > to comprehend the central point of a textbook passage;
      > to collect central points from a variety of texts (called “research”)
      > to listen to and write meaningful lecture notes;
      > the value of communicating legibly — because if it isn’t legible it can’t be communicated.

      I’m not saying the same can’t be learned otherwise; however, I’m uncomfortable thinking a person can only communicate through the keys of a machine, not of their own doing with pen and paper.

    37. Donna

      I learned cursive in school, but the cursive I use now is not the same. It’s changed over the years, and adapted to what I find easy, quick and attractive. If people write enough, they will eventually join the letters, because it’s harder not to. It’s not necessarily a skill that requires formal lessons, and I don’t believe it will die out, regardless of what the curriculum is.

    38. Well, I’m now 17 and in my last year of school (in Australia), and I didn’t learn cursive at school. I attended a private school until Year 3 and was taught “linked script” (print with links between some letters, but not all) in my final year there. I was so disappointed by that that I went home and asked my mother to teach me cursive. She went all out and taught me use of ink pens and calligraphy, too. I swapped to a public school in Year 4 where neither cursive nor linked script were taught. I refused to use print and drove my teachers and fellow students mad by using only cursive, which a fair few of them couldn’t read. I can use print, but I prefer cursive, especially for taking notes or writing quickly, because I stay much neater with cursive. My print and cursive styles are very different – in early high school, I had a teacher accuse me of cheating because my work had two distinct writing styles in it.

      Although I submit a lot of my schoolwork typed, I handwrite most rough drafts and all notes (I find it impossible to type dot points). 90% of everything I write is cursive – but I am most certainly a minority among my peers. I dropped out of school four years ago and switched to homeschooling, and a lot of my work is handwritten. (I’ve noticed that, amongst the homeschoolers, most children will use only cursive from the age of seven or eight). However, my sister, two years younger, is still in the public schooling system, and she takes her computer to almost every class and uses that – and it’s normal for them. A lot of schooled kids don’t handwrite much by the end of high school, and when they do, it’s not very neat. Interestingly, though, schools here don’t teach children touch-typing anymore, either.

    39. James Kramer

      Should we still teach cursive?

      YES and again YES–too many people think it takes too much time. Ever consider that the amount of time taken up with writing directly translates into the amount of ACTUAL THOUGHT devoted to the written piece? Something to consider! Since I write 3 forms (Hebrew, Altdeutsch and Latin) of cursive, I’m the wrong one to ask if we should stop teaching it–I think anyone who would propose that is either (1) highly uncultured and uneducated, (2)too lazy to devote time to anything much beyond computer games–and a glimpse at many people’s e-mails is a SURE FIRE INDICATION of lack of time and thought in many cases–not to mention the FUEL of Misunderstandings a-plenty!!! (3)a straight-up stupid blithering idiot–and as Judge Judy once so aptly put it, beauty is skin deep but STUPID is permanent, unfortunately. Dont’ even get me started on the sheer number of idiotic government sponsored ideas which have started with more holes than Swiss Cheese and have cost billions, no, trillions of $ for no good reason….KEEP writing, folks–it shows you care, and the compliments I get on my penmanship I put in my spiritual treasure box–it’s brimming 🙂

    40. Cursive isn't magic

      Handwriting matters — but does cursive matter? The research is surprising — almost as surprising as how often the research gets misquoted to appear in favor of cursive.

      For instance, it has long been documented that legible cursive writing averages no faster than “printed” handwriting of equal or greater legibility.
      More recently, it has also been documented that cursive does NOT objectively improve the reading, spelling, or language of students who have dyslexia/dysgraphia. (Sources for all research are listed below.)
      Further research demonstrates that the fastest, clearest handwriters are neither the “print”-writers nor the cursive writers. The highest speed and highest legibility in handwriting are attained by those who join only some letters, not all of them – making only the simplest of joins, omitting the rest, and using print-like shapes for letters whose printed and cursive shapes disagree.

      Reading cursive matters, still — just because cursive exists where one cannot avoid the need to read it. However, even quite young children can be taught to read handwriting which they are not taught to replicate.

      Reading cursive can (and should) be taught in just 30 to 60 minutes — even to five- or six-year-olds, once they read ordinary print.

      In fact, now there’s even an iPad app to teach how: named “Read Cursive,” of course — (further info in the notes below). So why not simply teach children to _read_ cursive, along with teaching other vital skills — such as some handwriting style that’s actually typical of effective handwriters?

      Educated adults increasingly quit cursive. In 2012, handwriting teachers from all over North America were surveyed at a conference hosted by Zaner-Bloser, a publisher of cursive textbooks. Only 37 percent wrote in cursive; another 8 percent printed. The majority — 55 percent — wrote a hybrid: some elements resembling “print”-writing, others resembling cursive. When even most handwriting teachers do not themselves use cursive, why mandate it?

      Cursive’s cheerleaders, such as graphologists, would like the rest of us to believe that cursive makes people smarter, or nicer, or beautifully graceful — to believe that it adds brain cells or “neuronal pathways” — or to believe instills proper etiquette, grammar, and patriotism — or that it confers other blessings which are in fact no more frequently found among cursive’s learners and users than among the rest of us. Some devotees of cursive allege that research supports their notions — citing studies that consistently prove to have been misquoted or otherwise misrepresented by the claimant. (Consistently, studies claimed to support cursive actually say something different when anyone looks up the research. Some of the “cursive” studies were not even about handwriting in any for, — the rest found advantages for handwriting over keyboarding, but no vantage for cursive over any of the other forms of handwriting.)

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

      /1/ either the claim provides no traceable source,


      /2/ if a source is cited, it is misquoted or is incorrectly described (e.g., an Indiana University research study comparing print-writing with keyboarding is perennially misrepresented by cursive’s defenders as a study “comparing print-writing with cursive”),


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

      What about signatures and cursive? Here in the USA, at least — where children grow up being told by their elders that “signatures require cursive to be legal” — cursive signatures in fact have no special legal validity over any other kind. (This is quite surprising to the occasional well-meaning schoolteacher who finds out that one of her students is the child of an attorney, and who asks that parent to visit the class and “please help me make sure that the students know the law requires cursive for signatures”!

      You would think that the teachers and graphologists would have learned better, by now —but more than a few of them have quite calmly said to me, and presumably to anyone else who ventures to inform them upon the subject, that they would far rather misinform children in their care about the law of the land than provide correct information which threatened in any way the classroom reverence paid to writing with every letter joined up and variously re-shaped as necessary in order to make that possible.

      I suspect that questioned document examiners (specialists in the identification of signatures, the verification of documents, etc.) must run into the same teacherly stubbornness if they ever tell a teacher what they tell me: namely, that the least forgeable signatures are the plainest (including the “print-written” ones).
      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 writing, not just cursive, is individual — just as all writing involves neuronal,pathways and fine motor skills. That is why any teacher of small children can immediately identify (from the “print-writing” on unsigned work) which of 25 or 30 students produced it.

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


      Handwriting research on speed and legibility:

      /1/ Arthur Dale Jackson. “A Comparison of Speed and Legibility of Manuscript and Cursive Handwriting of Intermediate Grade Pupils.”
      Ed. D. Dissertation, University of Arizona, 1970: on-line at

      /2/ Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, and Naomi Weintraub. “The 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

      /3 Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, Naomi Weintraub, and William Schafer. “Development 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

      Handwriting research on cursive’s lack of observable benefit for students with dyslexia/dysgraphia:

      “Does cursive handwriting have an impact on the reading and spelling performance of children with dyslexic dysgraphia: A quasi-experimental study.” Authors: Lorene Ann Nalpon & Noel Kok Hwee Chia — URL:

      One family’s experiences with “Read Cursive,” described by the mother of a seven-year-old and four-year-old:

      “I just downloaded and tried out the Read Cursive app for the iPad. Very clever! I especially like that it shows a variety of cursive styles, allowing students to see the wide range of scripts they might encounter. I may even buy the story pack in order to reinforce my son’s cursive comprehension; his grandmas have very legible cursive, but that’s hardly the case with the majority of the population in this day and age. … After watching my son play around with it, my four year old daughter insisted I download it to her iPad, as well. Now *both* of them can recognize cursive letters, even though she can’t quite read, yet. She was rather upset when I, as she put it, ‘made her stop learning’ for dinner time. … My children will be able to read the historical documents everyone seems so worried about, even if they won’t be writing with the same style.” — Celeste Wetzel, Warrenton, Virginia: June 9, 2014

      Zaner-Bloser handwriting survey: Results on-line at

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



      (shows how to develop fine motor skills WITHOUT cursive) —

      Yours for better letters,

      Kate Gladstone
      Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works •

      1. Sandra Kathleen

        Thank you for your very informative article that is backed with peer-reviewed research! Fascinating stuff!

        1. Thank YOU, Sandra!

          Thank YOU, Sandra! Believe it or not, there are threads where I get the opposite response — because the peer-reviewed (and otherwise documented) hard facts *bust* so many people’s pretty feelings and myths. (There’s a cursive thread right now, at, where basically there are folks calling me stupid and uninformed for posting anything that isn’t pure unadulterated triple-distilled Love Of Cursive.)

    41. Dyslexia

      Current research NOT quoted by devotees of cursive includes a study in which cursive training did NOT objectively improve the reading, spelling, or language of students with dyslexia/dysgraphia.
      SOURCE: “Does cursive handwriting have an impact on the reading and spelling performance of children with dyslexic dysgraphia: A quasi-experimental study.” Authors: Lorene Ann Nalpon & Noel Kok Hwee Chia — URL:

      Some personal notes:

      I’m dyslexic,and cursive made things worse for me.
      Cursive was one reason that I didn’t write legibly — let alone at any practical speed — till I was twenty-four and in graduate school. Even then, it was only because I quit cursive and learned italic: a streamlined print-like method that joins only the most easily joined letters, not all letters.

      Today, my case-load abounds in dyslexic students who are sent to me because “sure-fire” cursive programs (advertised as preventing or curing dyslexia or its symptoms) made things worse for them, too.

      My father was dyslexic — and went to school before such things were talked of: in the days of Palmer Method: when cursive was the first and only form of handwriting that any schoolchild learned. He and a cousin were such washouts with cursive, despite all efforts by themselves and their teachers, that someone at the school wrote to the Palmer Method company (A. n. Palmer, Incorporated) to ask the company to pay off on their guarantee.
      The Palmer people, you see, had a guarantee that, if any schoolchild could be found to fail in handwriting after complying with all the instructions of the Palmer Method, the A. N. Palmer Company would refund every penny that the school had spent on trying to teach Palmer Method to that child: the cost of the books, a pro-rated fraction of the teacher’s salary, EVERYTHING — right down to the cost of the pen and the ink that the child had used. All they asked was a chance to see the child’s written work, to verify for themselves that the child had indeed been using the Palmer Method. So …
      The school sent the company these students’ copybooks. Almost immediately (and probably per general company policy), the books were sent back — without the expected refund, and with a letter stating that: /1/ both boys’ books were full of all manner of mistakes, which the letter itemized in some detail — /2/ the Palmer Method did not teach or include or encourage the mistakes that were evident throughout both boys’ work — therefore, /3/ at the moment when each mistake had been committed, the student committing that mistake had not (for at least that particular moment) been using the Palmer Method, and therefore there was no ground for a refund, and therefore the refund was not given.