Writing Wednesday: How important is the teaching of cursive?

Apparently, Shakespeare had some poor handwriting skills as shown on this signature from his will.

Apparently, Shakespeare had some poor handwriting skills as shown by this signature from his will.

I just finished filing my federal and state income taxes (Yay for me!). Since I filed both electronically, my “signature” for these documents included things like my social security number and special PINs. When I first started hearing about schools dropping the teaching of cursive, I thought, “But how will these kids sign their checks?” Now with direct deposit and online bill pay, it seems we don’t have to worry about that too much anymore.

On the other hand, I still have to sign most credit card bills. Yes, Target will let me skip the signature if my bill is less than $50, but restaurants and most stores still want my “John Hancock” plastered on a piece of paper or on an electronic device.John_Hancock_Envelope_Signature

Also, let’s not forget the speed and ease of cursive. I tend to float back and forth between cursive and printing, but cursive is generally faster for me. Any time I’m writing thank you notes (say for generous holiday gifts from the students), I write in cursive. It simply comes out faster, and often looks nicer, than my printing.

Some people have asked me if I force my students to write in cursive. No. Why? Honestly, I rarely see their handwriting at all. That’s because I require them to type their essays for me, and most grammar tests involve very little actual writing. The questions are usually multiple choice or “circle the verb and underline the subject” type of problems.

Nonetheless, I still think it would be hard to be a student in my classroom and not have at least some knowledge of cursive because when I write comments on student papers, I tend to write in a mixture of cursive and printing. I’m often not even aware of the fact that I’m flipping back and forth between the two. Students without a basic understanding of cursive would have a hard time deciphering my notes. (In fact, I once had an eighth grade boy tell me he couldn’t read my comments on his paper because he had never learned cursive. That was more years ago than I’d like to remember, which makes me wonder how many of my current students can’t read my comments but are too embarrassed to tell me.)

So what do you think? In such a digital age, is the art of cursive disappearing? Should schools still bother to teach it, or will it eventually die out?

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2 Responses to Writing Wednesday: How important is the teaching of cursive?

  1. Mayor says:

    At my oldest’s school they no longer teach cursive because the theory is they will make up their own “signature” when the time is right. Maybe cursive will go the way to shorthand and Old English. When I was in high school, they said a typing class was unnecessary. The typing class I took in high school saved me countless hours in college typing lots of papers on the computer. Most kids I know today want to learn how to type faster on their tablets. Maybe cursive just needs a new model like what the computer did for typing.

  2. AJ Cattapan says:

    My students have a hard time typing fast on their iPads. Some get the wireless keyboards to help with that. Even then, I don’t think most of them use proper fingering, so they never get as fast as I am. And definitely not as fast as my mother who learned proper typing and shorthand back in the days when all high school girls who dreamed of being secretaries took those courses!

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