Oh For Shame! Our Children Can't Write Cursive!

from the what-ever-shall-we-do? dept

For all of the many worries people have had over what computers are doing to our children, from making them fat to destroying their grammar to opening them up to cyberbullying, here’s one we never realized was such a big deal. Over three years ago, we had a post mentioning that there didn’t seem to be much of a need for cursive writing any more, as most communications was done via typed words. Non-cursive writing was perfectly fine for other situations. However, you wouldn’t know that to read this latest article that is positively dripping with worry over what will become of our children and their inability to write with connected letters. It turns out that fewer and fewer kids are writing in script, even if they learned it in elementary school. The “information officer” for the National Handwriting Association is appalled: “The result of this neglect is dire. Many children never learn joined writing at all and continue to use print script like young children, well into their adult lives.” Dire? I could think of a few things that seem a bit more important. Then there’s a professor of literacy who claims that a lack of connecting letters stunts both learning and self-esteem: “Unless children learn to write legibly and at speed, their educational achievements may be reduced and their self-esteem affected.” Next up: we’ll be hearing about how awful it is that children, these days, no longer churn their own butter.

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Comments on “Oh For Shame! Our Children Can't Write Cursive!”

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Brian (profile) says:

Oh my! Whatever will we do!

When I want to write quickly, far more quickly than cursive, I switch to predicate calculas which has the added advantage that I can tear apart poorly reasoned arguments/reasoning at a glance. Does this mean that everyone should learn predicate calculas or even shorthand, which is also faster than cursive? Of course not. Yes, I did learn cursive in school and my handwriting was always elegant (calligraphy is a sometime hobby of mine as well). Do I use it in daily life. Nope. Am I losing out on anything. Again, nope. Non-cursive script is usually quite clear which is more than I can say for many a persons’ cursive which can be quite atrocious.

Jayne says:

Re: Oh my! Whatever will we do!

I’m a teacher in the UK and I have to say, I’ve been trawling the internet looking for some positive feedback on cursive writing. Anything? No, all moaners!
Trouble is, in the UK the majority of children are taught in link script which is fine if you can master it. However, having seen children who are de-motivated, with low self esteem owing to the presentation of their work, i’ve turned to cursive writing as a possible way to help those children who are suffering.
After all we still need to write!
I’ve tried it out recently with a class and the children are delighted! One child left me a note thanking me for the “gift” of this style of writing, having battled with presentation for years.
So, for those of you who do not appreciate the gift that your teachers have given you all those years ago, just you try being the one who cannot write!
Cursive writing may be a dying art, but I love it, it’s turned some of my kids around!

Buzz (profile) says:

You have got to be kidding me...

I learned to write cursive in either 1st or 2nd grade. Soon after that time, I abandoned the practice for several reasons: I think cursive is overrated and ugly; I learned to write print faster; I use a computer for all my ‘nice’ presentations; and I cannot stand reading large portions of cursive text. In my 22 years of living, I cannot think of ONE time (not a single ONE) where I thought to myself, “Dang, I sure wish I would’ve kept up my cursive skills… I’ve lost some self-esteem…”

I am engaged to be married this upcoming December. I definitely plan on raising a few kids. I will not care one bit if they struggle or simply neglect their cursive skills (unless it is something they really want to do for calligraphy and whatnot). This TechDirt article made me laugh. Thank you for that. 🙂

Harlan says:

Oh snap!

After reading this article, I just noticed that I forgot how to write in cursive. Oh well, I exchaged that for the ability to make speech enabled programs for the blind; In a few years, I’ll loose my ability to write!
I was tought cursive in elementary school, but I wasn’t required to use it since the end of middle school.

anonymous says:

Re: Oh snap!

I think you should learn to spell, call yourself a teacher. I learnt cursive and find that when called upon to write something, I don’t have to rely upon a computer to make a piece of work look good, it’s also very soothing, being able to write nicely for long periods of time. It’s boring reading similar types of text all the time, when it’s something personal, you can’t beat a well written letter or card. I think that children should be taught it at an early age so that they can make the choice of whether to use it or not.

William C Bonner (profile) says:

Dislexia was bad enough.

I turn 40 next year, and learned touch typing on an IBM Selectric when I was 13.

I was diagnosed dislexic at age 12, and moved schools to work in a special program to relearn motor skills in how to make letters.

I had always had problems with writing letters before then, and was generally called lazy, because I was obviouslly smart enough to learn the material, but all of my work was badly written. I could get up and talk on subjects that I souldn’t put on paper.

I learned to type as an optional class that same year, and that was also the same year that I started working on an Apple II.

As far as I’m concerned, wiring my brain to be able to touch type is a much better skill than trying to produce nice cursive script. My handwriting degenerated to fairly neat block letters, though there is no way I can write as fast as I can type.

The one time I wish I could write nice looking handwriting is to have the ability to write personal letters. I have run across letters that were written by my ancestors, or even writing on the back of old photos describing who the people were. Consistent handwriting gives insight to the person who did the writing, and seems connected in a way that printing just doesn’t convey.

There have been letters that I would like to have written on good paper to properly convey my thoughts. Typing the thoughts and printing them in a standard printer just doesn’t have the personal touch that I’ve tried to pass. If I attempt to write in cursive, it looks nearly as messy as my nephew’s writing, and he’s in third grade. Then I look at the old letters, I see the elegance I’d like to impart with my own words.

Phyltre (profile) says:

Funny you mention it...

Hmmm. This article reminds me of fourth grade, where our class was unanimously told to stop writing in cursive and only turn in print because it was harder to read cursive.

Every teacher I had that required handwritten assignments espoused the same rationale. As a consequence, I never learned to write in cursive with anything approaching practical speed. And I’ll certainly never conceivably NEED cursive, unless you count signatures, so…

Anonymous Coward says:

Cursive Writing Affects Cognitive Development?

Maybe you have heard that children who learn to play the piano tend to have better math skills… something to do with the bilateral motor skills influencing brain development… Another article I saw about this issue of children no longer learning cursive cited studies that showed children who had 15 minutes of cursive writing practice a day wrote longer, expressed more complex thoughts and better sentence structure.

Arochone (user link) says:

Re: Cursive Writing Affects Cognitive Development?

Writing longer is not a benifit. I remember two years ago I was taking a test in science class…and there was an ‘essay’ question. Some people filled up the entire back of the answer sheet explaining this question. I wrote 3 words. Guess who got it right?
Yup. Me.

I hate people who takes 3 paragraphs to explain something that could be said in one sentence. It’s insulting, and it makes reading it a hell of a lot more difficult. Personally, I’d much prefer a brief bulleted list of phrases than a 5 page essay.

Nathan (profile) says:

Re: Re: Cursive Writing Affects Cognitive Developm

Not that I disagree with you, many people use WAY too many words to say something that needs only a few words to express. That being said, in a world where black and white issues are few and far between, the *ability* to express complex and nuanced thoughts is increasingly important. I don’t think that is accomplished through cursive handwriting, but saying that everything should be bullet pointed is just as problematic in my opinion.

Lanter Bearer says:

Re: Cursive Writing Affects Cognitive Development?

For the quick and dirty note to self, yes print is . . . well, OK.

I have certifications for corrective reading and reading for dyslexics. Dyslexia being the inability to encode or decode written language. The rest are just sloppy readers. The corrective process is much the same but with a tweak or two here and there.

Part of the mind ordering process for either of these two dysfunctions is learning to express words as whole things with their internal meanings and the external representations of well constructed and connected letters in the cursive form.

For those who dismiss the effectiveness of the cursive format – good for you. You may not be part of the human flock that needs just that style.

Teachers (no, not educators – an aberration) understand the mix of modalities (sense based) that are required for effective teaching and learning. The scratching out of a thought or a nascent idea in cursive is absolutely required for some minds.

I am at the moment working with corporate management types who have risen to a level of competence beyond which they are unable to stretch. I assess their handwriting and their ability to express thoughts on a keyboard or in scratched print notes. The block is obvious. If one has a couple of hours a day to work out at the gym, then one has the time to work out the mind with some kinesthetics of the brain-eye-hand type.

It is not for everyone. The willful Type A heavy on the immediate results with no need to adjust, will pay a price.
This is not to say that there is any magic or ju-ju connected with cursive; it is a method, a discipline and a therapy.

When was the last time you saw a heartfelt condolence email?

Lantern Bearer

Please, do be attentive, be intelligent, be responsible, be reasonable.

matthew says:

Re: Re: Cursive Writing Affects Cognitive Developm

Lantern bearer, I think you may be on to something. After reading your post I began to ponder the interaction between my smoothness and spontenaity of thought and the degree of connection (it is variable) between my print, all-uppercase letters. The harder I am concentrating, the more slurred and connected my letters are.

My print, all uppercase letters were some weird intentional effort as a child to embrace what I thought was my overwhelmingly left-brained engineer nature. Only later after much struggling have I come to realize my true desire is for right brained expression, and it has atrophied and wilted to almost nothing.

Rick says:


This is obviously a conspiracy manufactured by the pencil companies. They are merely trying to get more people to write in cursive to fund their industry. A declination in cursive writing translates into fewer pencils used as people turn to computers.

Sounds like the old newspaper/paper mill fight outlawing hemp/marijuana (hemp makes cheaper paper than lumber), so it would not cut into their lumber made paper profits.

Global says:

The point is...

The whole point here is when you compare our education system to the rest of the world. You know why other countries consider the average American to be a moron? It’s not the point that the kids can’t write cursive, it’s the fact that we continue to lower our standards in so many areas, especially in schools. We are expected to accept these lower standards, we do, and our kids get more stupid as time goes on. After a while, no other countries will respect our education system! Oh wait, too late…

babooom says:

where has all the cursive gone?

“Unless children learn to write legibly and at speed” since when is cursive more legible than print script. every time I see anything writen in cursive it is always harder for me to readn than in print. if I need to write at speed I can type 10X faster than writing in cursive (assuming I could still write anything other than my name in cursive). as far as my self-esteem… well, I’ll need a lot more than cursive to fix that.

novernetsbandit (user link) says:

Agreed with all points especially 12!!!

There is a lot that our educational system is forgetting. The no child left behind is bullshit. Once you get to far behind they give you 2 choices 1. special school 2. GED
What happened to making sure that everyone that entered high school graduated?
Now onto cursive I cant read what i write in cursive and i was one of them kids who used the computer to write it for me if i had to write it at all. Most of my school teachers would of rather had computer or hand written material turned in. It was easier on there old and fragile eyes!

Pseudonym (profile) says:

Cursive has its benefits

babooom: The fact that all the cursive that you see is illegible just proves the point.

Once upon a time, one school subject was “penmanship”, which was basically, producing legible cursive writing. This made sense in an era before ubiquitous computers. Typing was done by a dedicated pool of typists, and the ability to get your thoughts down quickly and legibly was very important, so that the typists could read it.

The issue here isn’t that cursive isn’t as important, but rather that writing isn’t as important. Instead of writing your document by hand and then handing it to a typist, you can type it yourself and then hand it to an editor. (Or, more likely, just use the badly-formatted and non-proofread document directly.)

About the only time when you need to read handwriting these days is in whiteboard printouts, and school doesn’t really teach how to write well on a whiteboard.

What we’re seeing is that good handwriting is becoming a niche skill, like shorthand. If you have a need for some good handwriting, chances are you actually want a calligrapher. They still exist, and they’re not hard to find.

mousepaw says:

"Oh for shame"

Well, I can write, legibly, in cursive, faster than I can type, which is roughly 10,000 ks/m. Not only that, I can hold my thoughts better and pull together a variety of ideas while doing so. I enjoy writing, especially if I have something to get off my chest. If something is really bothering me and I can’t nail it down, I write with my other hand; typing a journal just doesn’t do it for me. Doodling, can distract the linear/reasoning side of your brain and allow for more creative thinking from your abstract side (Paraphrased from the book “Drawing on the Right Side of Your Brain” and nothing says “personal” like a hand-written “thank you” card.

Elodie (user link) says:

cursive, not so big, but...

The fact that cursive is dying off isn’t so bad–I personally still use it because in France it’s what you learn first, but that’s just a matter of personal preference. What I do find awful is the fact that children (make that people in general) in america tend to have AWFUL handwriting. What’s up with that? Handwriting isn’t dying off just yet, why on earth do they not stress handwriting more in elementary schools?? In my opinion, it’s a lot more important than a lot of the stuff done in elementary–that’s a skill that’ll be recognized your whole life =P

Anonymous Coward says:

My mother tells me a story in which she works long and hard on a term paper (written in longhand cursive). when she got it back there was a note attached to it that said “This look like it wight have been a good paper, if only I could have read it.” at which point she switches to a hybrid of print and longhand. her hybrid is neat and flows well and fast, like cursive, but is easy to read also.(when she’s not in a oh-my-God-I’ve-got-thirty-seconds-to-write-a-paragraph frenzy)
i learned to write cursive in my earlier years but have dropped it in favor of my own hybrid. I can type much faster than I can handwrite, approximately twice as fast, and would choose typing over handwriting any day. The only cursive I use on any sort of regular basis, is my signiture, and that is absolutely horrid.

Dainichi says:

What Cursive? IDrive a Hybrid ;)

My mother tells me a story in which she works long and hard on a term paper (written in longhand cursive). when she got it back there was a note attached to it that said “This look like it wight have been a good paper, if only I could have read it.” at which point she switches to a hybrid of print and longhand. her hybrid is neat and flows well and fast, like cursive, but is easy to read also.(when she’s not in a oh-my-God-I’ve-got-thirty-seconds-to-write-a-paragraph frenzy)
i learned to write cursive in my earlier years but have dropped it in favor of my own hybrid. I can type much faster than I can handwrite, approximately twice as fast, and would choose typing over handwriting any day. The only cursive I use on any sort of regular basis, is my signiture, and that is absolutely horrid.

moe says:

Don't be too quick

As the article, and another commenter, stated, there appears to be a link between cursive writing and cognitive development. That is important, despite what us tech-minded folks think and experience at work. There are alot of things we do that don’t make 100% sense, like speaking to infants using proper grammar, good vocabulary, and adult tones (instead of, “whoosa special-wecial poopy pants?!?) even though they can’t understand any of it because it helps their development and learning.

If cursive writing helps children develop and learn, then they should learn it and be encouraged to use it for that reason alone.

dp says:

signatures are out the door too...

I have read about a lot of people only using cursive when they sign their name, but truly, even “neat” cursive has declined in our dear John Hancocks. Compare the tight script of an older person’s signature to the hasty, illegible scrawl of our signatures today. As if swiping a credit card wasn’t fast enough, now we don’t even spell out our full name! Rather, we make a general impression of the first letter and pray that the lines that follow can be taken for some form of our written identity.

ReallyEvilCanine (profile) says:

Oh noes! We don't manufacture buggy whips anymore!

I’m over 40. I skipped second grade where cursive was taught. As a result my cursive is pretty poor, though my normal handwriting has also always been crap. All the way through high school cursive was required for all written assignments. Except for me. Each teacher had to learn it the hard way. I’d write a paper in normal letters, hand it in, and then get it back with instructions to rewrite it in cursive. Once they saw the horrors of my cursive script, they gave up.

I just tested myself. I can still write in cursive but it’s about 10 times slower than writing in all caps, something I do to make my writing more legible. It’s a habit I picked up from coding in my teens. My letterset is very distinctive to ensure no possible confusion of 0/o/O, l/1/7, etc.

I learned to type (Olivetti manual and IBM electric) when I was eight and got my first computer at 13 (/|800). Once that 9-pin Epson printer was mine I pretty much stopped writing anything except for taking or making notes.

David says:

Re: Oh noes! We don't manufacture buggy whips anym

It must have been tramatic for me because I can remember 2nd grade and the teacher trying to teach me cursive. I wrote block letters pretty well, and now they had us go through all the exercises over and over trying to learn another way. I never saw the point, and still don’t. I could always write more quickly printing. I only ever wrote cursive when forced to – as soon as I could revert to block letters I did. My cursive writing is pretty crappy now, and I have to think about how to form most letters that aren’t in my signature (which is pretty crappy as well).

I say ditch it. As long as there is a print button, who needs it?

MEoip says:


People may be able to write in cursive at a faster rate but it is harder to read so in the end time saved is negligible.

I rebuked on of the office assistants the other day for writing in cursive. She was supposed to be labeling CD’s with a 6 letter and 2 number code then the customers family name. She was neatly writing it in cursive I told her our lawyers are paid by the hour and that I’m not paying them to figure out your cursive handwriting. She said she can’t write in print, I laughed berated her then realized she had horrible print writing; which I found to be a greater issue than not being able to write in cursive. Most forms require print, I wondered how she ever filled out our postal forms and other such items, I looked through the file and there they were looking like a kid wrote them. Letters were outside the boxes and sloppy… but if I ever needed a nice cursive card sent to a client I new how to go to, except my clients don’t want to get fluffy thank you cards in cursive, I send email.

The Dukeman (profile) says:

A tool is a tool.

Good, neat, cursive writing is no less than good art. The fact is, everyone cannot be a good artist, yet everyone still drew pictures as a child. The visual quality of those “refrigerator” pictures and the visual quality of a child’s cursive writing basically correlate to a stage of development. Technology has greatly reduced the need for many people to progress their manual writing skills beyond that stage. Cursive writing came about as way to write faster, just as the typewriter came about as a way of producing legible print much faster than any manual writing method. The mere fact that this was necessary, besides economics for printers and publishers, hints that throughout history the legibility of the average person’s writing needed improvement. That is why typewriters, and now computers, became household tools instead of being relegated to commercial use only.

Writing is a tool for communicating. The form and method of producing that writing has evolved with technology. This shows the need for written communication has not diminished. I distinctly remember a time in my childhood when I was upset that when writing I couldn’t write down my thoughts fast enough using cursive, but it was definitely faster than printing each letter individually. The keyboard, and the technology attached to it (be it typewriter or printer), facilitates speedy writing. Hopefully technology will produce something one day that will bring writing much closer to the speed of thought.

psg (user link) says:

Cursive is a pointless legacy

When I was at schoo, about 7-9 years oldl I had one demented idiot of a teacher who thought that cursive hand writting was more important than learning gramma and spelling.

It took years to repair the damage this moron caused.

Cursive hand writting is pointless… I type far far far faster than I write, and I write in print (which suprisingly OTHER PEOPLE CAN READ) far quicker than I write cursive.

I ask you; what is the point?

Eric (user link) says:


Personally, I’d be a lot more concerned and worried about the percentage of kids who can’t type well and/or lack basic computer skills (which, unfortunately, is a sizable number and primarily composed of kids with poor backgrounds). Simply, that’s going to impact their overall communication abilities – and consequently, employment prospects – a lot more than cursive writing will.

tom says:

actually computers teach churning

i remember playing Worms with friends – we were concentrating so heard as we waited for our turns that we kept passing a bowl of cream round (which we were whipping to add to cheesecake – a bad case of the munchies) and it turned into butter. I suspect this has happened a lot around the world and that therefore home churning of butter could be making a comeback.

Tom says:

Cursive is a chore to read

My boss writes in cursive most of the time. His print is incredibly easy to read whereas his cursive is anything but. He gets frustrated with me for constantly requesting that he only write notes and such for me in print.

I’ve had no use for cursive for decades now. Even while learning it, I considered it tantamount to learning Latin; a dead language.

Noah C. Johnson says:


thanks, I think Latin is the perfect metaphor for cursive. nowadays even most courses in latin, focus not on speaking the language, or writing it yourself, but being able to read the stuff that is already written in it. this makes eminent sense, as there are no longer any ancient romans to talk to, but plenty of stuff they wrote is still around for people to read. please note that instruction on cursive usually completely ignores reading it, and instead engages in endless drills on writing it.

Noah C. Johnson says:


why the heck would you do that? cursive is harder, slower, and less legible then print, and very little in the real world is in cursive. requiring it is ridiculous. you might as well demand that math be taught only in roman numerals; (good luck figuring out what IVXCVI ÷ CXXVIII is [it’s XXXII, by the way; mind you I only figured that out by doing the actual equation in regular Arabic numerals, then converting each number to roman numerals using internet lookup, that calculation is next to impossible using actual roman numerals] and that is just one of thousands of such absurd equations, congratulations to anyone who can figure out the corresponding numbers in Arabic numerals). seriously, cursive is like doing long division in roman numerals exclusively. a less convenient method employed purely to feel “fancy” despite its lack of real life application, so it comes across as pompous and outdated. do those teachers require all written answers to be in Latin as well? they deserve to be fired, as they are making things unnecessarily difficult and teach nothing of real value. cursive has no more of a role in modern society then roman numerals and Latin. (actually roman numerals may have more of a role in modern society then cursive does). it is elevating style over substance; which would be bad enough, but requiring a pompous, difficult, outdated and illegible style at that. any teacher who requires assignments to be in cursive is obviously a pretentious jerk who does not know what century they live in; unless they do it because of administration mandates, in that case it is the school administrators who are the pretentious jerks who don’t know what century they live in.

Guru80 says:


Talk about things you didn’t know that you didn’t know. I am 31 and haven’t written in cursive in years since there is absolutely no need for it in any part of my daily life. Reading this is the first time I have even thought about it in years. After reading some of the comments I just realized that I DON’T know how to write a vast majority of the uppercase letters any more! Wow….and the lower case letters tend to be my own unique version of cursive.

Damn the computers and its internets!!!!

Derrick (user link) says:

cursive shmursive

By the time I was in the sixth grade I was back to printing rather than cursive simply because my handwriting was better and it was easier for me to use shorthand. I haven’t looked back since.

In my professional life I find that it’s always easier to read people that print rather than write cursive, especially since it seems that most people I work with use those felt tipped pens so all the letters bleed together anyway.

Data Entry Hell says:

Cursive is overrated

I do data entry while I’m going to school, and I must say that cursive is far overrated. The forms I enter are filled out by primary and secondary teachers, and many use cursive. Of all people who should be able to write cursive well, you’d think it would be them. Alas, no. On the contrary, these educators have some of the worst hand writing (and not to mention spelling) I have ever seen.

On the flipside, print is usually clear, uniform, there isn’t much “signature” letter changing. In short, it makes my job a whole lot easier.

Cbrknight says:


I usually do not post any comments but on this topic I felt the need. I am left handed. Like most lefties, handwriting anything is messy. And Yes I can still write “to speed”, however subjective that comment is.

The nature of our writing system is that we write left to right, top to bottom. Whenever I write, my hand would always rub over the ink or pencil smearing it on the paper and onto my hand. For this reason I hated to write anything. That hurt my self esteem more than anything. I used to love to write stories. Even my teacher’s would complain about my messy handwriting. Because of the messiness of my handwriting I hated to do it. My family couldnt afford a typewriter much less a computer. I would never turn in writing assignments. I still got decent grades in school because of my intelligence even though I had so many missed assignments. I sometimes wonder how much farther I would have gotten if there had been another way for me to complete the assignments. When I got older I developed my typing skills just so I would have an alternative. That helped my self esteem because I taught myself how to type and overcome what I always felt was a personal flaw that I couldnt fix.

I have told my wife many times that if I PC’s were around back then like they are now that I may have become a writer. It makes you wonder.

Instead of worring about if our children’s self esteem is boosted by their handwriting… how about we teach them to be proud of what ever they do.

schizocat says:

I wonder if these people who are lamenting the loss of cursive writing skills also want to force everyone to be right handed again. I had a freshman English teacher in high school in the mid-90s who wasted six weeks of the year on penmanship (that could have been much better spent on ANYTHING else) because she claimed she couldn’t read our writing (but refused to allow us to turn in assignments that were typed or written in anything but cursive). Then no matter how carefully i wrote she marked me down because my letters slanted “wrong” since i’m left handed. My mother is also left handed and has aesthetically beautifull writing that would have made that same teacher scream because, again, it’s technically “wrong.” Her father had horrible chickenscratch that even he couldn’t always read because they forced him to be right handed.

I have no need for cursive. Even on a personal letter (if i must snail-mail it) i can print it out with a nice font on nice stationery and sign it. Anyone who knows me (the only ones likely to get a personal letter) would thank me for not having to decipher my “writing.”

matthew says:

cognitive development

I don’t understand why learning cursive would assist in cognitive development any more than learning print would, except for providing a slightly more complex system of writing where there are different rules for letter connections, as well as an entirely different set of glyphs which they do not see in their day to day life–for an overall more varied exposure to writing. It seems plausible that this would have some improvement.

But it seems much more plausible that this practice is mired in an educational pseudoscience morass along with most everything else that the majority of american schoolchildren are taught.

I would also suggest that a school with more time to spend teaching good cursive is probably populated with superior teachers and students versus one that spends more time on fluffy bs and standardized test prep… and so you will naturally have some correlation with cognitive development there.

anna says:


I had a reason to go through my old elementary school report cards the other day. I was branded a rebel loser in the second grade because I couldn’t hold a pencil right or write in cursive. Those b–s obsessed about my messy writing from second grade forward. Amazing how I needed cursive writing skills to be successful in life – NOT. I’m just grateful that I grew up without being totally damaged by these mindless teachers who lacked any kind of creativity or understanding about kids.

chris (profile) says:

it's a chicken and egg problem

i’m left handed, so i pretty much had to teach myself to write because a lot of the old printing and cursive exercises we did in elementary school were backwards for me. i made letters backwards for a long time, and people thought i was dyslexic. because i pretty much taught myself, i have really bad handwriting. i hated hand writing, and i taught myself to type. i can type way faster than i can write, and prefer typing because people give me crap about my lousy hand writing. if i had good hand writing to begin with, or my school was more friendly to lefties, things might have been different.

just like in the “IM/SMS is killing english” argument, perhaps pretty handwriting and text book grammar and spelling are all ways of feeling really good about having nothing useful to say.

belligerent0001 says:

How's this?

My signature is in cursive, although through the years of signing everything in triplicate, and having to do so rapidly, my signature degraded into essentially a couple of squiggly lines. When I got my last mortgage I was told to ‘sign legibly” I actually had to practice for 30 minutes, and it was very uncomfortable and weird. My handwriting is so bad, that I have trouble reading it. As a result most of my correspondence is done using technology. I had teachers that wouldn’t accept typed or printed assignments, those same teachers can’t even turn on a computer, err the one that are still alive an not drooling on themselves that is. The point is that we are witnessing evolution. Now if we could only plug our brains directly into computer systems to further evolve and do away with handwriting and hardcopy for good…….

tickletheivories says:

cognitive development

When residential electricity was first becoming available, homeowners would put shiny metal plates around the outlets to call attention to the fact that they had it. Now that most people in the U.S. have electricity, it’s no big deal.

In an age of high literacy (and exploding computer literacy) I suspect cursive is going the way of shiny brass switchplates. Good handwriting is no longer the mark of education and refinement that it once was.

If there is indeed an important (read: demonstrable) link between cursive and some aspect of cognitive development, it’s time to embrace alternatives that have similar developmental benefits. Has anyone investigated whether keyboarding (the typing kind) is beneficial in the same way as piano playing? I have a strong suspicion that teaching children how to draw, paint, tap dance or use chopsticks would make up for skipping cursive.

Raoul (user link) says:

Cursive writing is an important skill

I had to learn cursive in school, and I’m happy I did so now. It’s an important skill to have, and it doesn’t take that much time to learn. It may not be a vital skill, but it’s a useful skill. People who say cursive isn’t important will soon say writing isn’t important anymore. What will they do then? What if there isn’t a computer around? Since the beginning of civilization, writing has been an important skill, one that has carried our collective knowledge forward, and for most of that time, handwriting has been the only way to convey knowledge. Computers are nice, but writing is more accessible, and easier to do just about anywhere. Printed letters look childish. Cursive handwriting is an adult’s handwriting, and a nicely developed cursive shows intellectual maturity.

Anonymous Coward says:

I cannot believe how many of you are so quick to throw out cursive. I had no idea it was getting to this point. Honestly, how lazy can you get? THE INTERNET IS NOT AN EXCUSE TO FORGET HOW TO USE THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE!!! This statement applies not only to sloppy chat room language and whatnot, but also proper penmanship. Everybody wants to take the easy way out and drop cursive, and for that matter, not take the time to develop good handwriting either. I know, because I don’t really like writing at all, because my handwriting is generally horrible, and I can type WAAAY faster than I can write. However, cursive is still a very-much needed skill. For one thing (and don’t quote me on this), I imagine it’s harder to fake somebody else’s handwriting for, say, signing a check or credit card, if it’s in cursive as opposed to print. Also, it looks much more professional. If you want to tell people you’re a lazy slob, go ahead an sign important documents in print, which will probably look like a pre-teen is the one signing. If you want to say that you’ve matured to the point of acting like an adult, learn to use proper, legible cursive, if for no other reason than to sign important documents.

Noah C. Johnson says:


legible cursive? I think only unicorns (if even them) write that. cursive is inherintly illegible. you are expecting everyone to do the impossible. illegibility is inherent in the nature of cursive, “be” and “li” as letter combinations require several minutes of staring to distinguish them in “correctly written” cursive; to name just a few of the letters that resemble each other more in cursive then in print. N and M can sometimes look identical in cursive. B, F and L are hard to distinguish. U and W require squinting to tell apart. E also has a decent resemblance to an L, though to a lesser degree than the previous problems. Similarly E and I; as well as I and J are hard to distinguish. To an even lesser degree, Y and Z look similar as well, similarly X and W. could probably think of a couple more if I wanted to, but those are the ones that come to mind. Those are just the difficulties when they are written correctly; it is even worse when written badly. I should add that cursive is 100% impossible to write “close enough” (by close enough, I mean that the letters although written imperfectly, are close enough to the correct shapes that they can be easily identified), cursive has to be perfected before it can be used, while print can be written close enough. I should add that cursive is extremely difficult to get right. even if legible cursive were possible, only a few people would have even the slightest chance of managing it. stop torturing people with demands that set up unachievable goals/

Eh? says:

Bad Handwriting = intellegence

I love my poor handwriting, as I see it, poor handwriting is a sign of unrestrained thinking => IE. Intellegence.
Besides, we think of doctors as above average in intellegence, and steriotypically poor in the handwriting category.
Ever see Albert Einsteins handwriting?
Theres all the proof I need, anecdotal as it is, that my poor handwriting is a sign of higher intellegence.

Anonymous Coward says:

It's called cursive for a reason

The last time I was required to hand write anything other than my signature I was REQUIRED to use block capitals for everything except my signature. Even when writing notes to myself I will not use cursive becasue I would like to be able to read them later. In my opinion cursive writing is a hinderence to clear communication and should be eliminated from the general curriculum. It can be moved to art classes and covered as part of calligraphy.

CJ says:

Cursive Writing

As someone who makes a living off of writing, I can honestly say that cursive has gone the way of the dinosaur. Technology has made it obsolete. It only serves as a point of confusion and futility in current curriculum. Why teach two visual sets of language? It’s just not necessary anymore.

The best application for cursive writing is in verbatim note taking, letters, and longer documents. Email and longer documents are obviously much better served today by computers with word processor and email capabilities. As far as note taking goes, you are much better off to bullet point synthesized information. Being actively engaged with what is being presented to you is a much better way to learn. It creates knowledge that can be applied. I’m not, nor are most people, the type of learner that benefits from rehashing a flawed recording of a live event.

Classroom time today would be much better spent building upon initial language skills. Showing kids how to boil down information into manageable chunks and teaching them how to communicate effectively across mediums (i.e. by teaching them communication structure) might put them in better stead when they enter the “real world.”

Agnau says:

Cursive may be on the way back...

Have you seen the handwriting recognition technology? Yeah, Palm came up with its own “graphitti” and later actually recognized standard print. However tablet PCs are supposed to be able to recognize cursive.

However, I wonder how long it will be until voice-recognition becomes common place as well. Cursive, printing, and typing may be on its way back out….

Lorne says:

For shame: our kids can't use manual typewriters

For we (ahem) older people…remember the alarming news that people were not learning to use the manual typewriters? I recall a teacher warning us of the dire consequences of not, since for all time to come we would still need to know both the manual and the new fangled IBM Selectric.

hhhhhahhhhaa. Joke was on hhhhim. Who nnnneeds to learnnn how to quickly hhhit the kkkeys like wwwith mmmanual typewriters?

rob (profile) says:

What is cursive good for?

Writing notes on Christmas cards, I suppose.

From Junior High on, I spent my writing time developing my printing skills because I aspired to
be an Architect, where printing was taken to the level of art. Even though I never became an Architect, in over thirty years of work, I never used cursive for anything. All my correspondence and reports had to be typed on paper and later, on computers.

As for cursive writing developing cognitive skills, I call bs on that. A good touch-typist’s brain
is doing a lot more work, and requires more connections, than a cursive writer’s. Think about it.

Being over 60 years old and jealous of my wife’s beautiful cursive I decided to re-teach myself this ‘art’. I practiced a little every day and got better at it than I ever had before. Then I went back to /. and forgot about it. 😉

reed says:

Cursive is old-hat

Please let cursive die! I wasted many years learning it in school because in “college” all of my papers would be turned in with cursive. Guess what? NO college or university accepts cursive papers (at least not any I am aware of). Cursive may allow those who practice it to write slightly faster, but it results in an un-readable mess. Even well written cursive is hard to read next to print.

Cursive should go the way of calligraphy and be purely optional. If you want to learn it fine, otherwise there are literally thousand of other things that are more productive that learning cursive.

|3331373|3|_||3 says:

In England...

There we were taught the letter shapes for cursive wtriting (using a much simpler form of cursive than is popular in the US) in Reception (1st year of school). students would then begin to werite cursive whenever they were good enough writing in print. the stupid ball and stick writing is never taught in most counties. the students can move to cursive when ready (i.e. when thety stop lifting the pencil off the paper). almost all people educatd in the english system who are taught writing in this manner write cursive

Avatar28 says:

it's dead

I have to agree with most of the other posters who agreed that the need for cursive is mostly dead. Someone compared it to learning Latin, I disagree. I think learning Latin is probably MORE useful that cursive since it is still used more in medicine and the sciences. About the only place I can think of cursive being used is our signatures.

Do kids need to learn it? Yes. They need to be able to decipher it when someone writes it as well as being able to sign their “John Hancock” with it. Beyond that, I don’t think it’s especially useful or needed.

|3331373|3|_||3, can you clarify what you mean by “ball and stick”? I don’t quite follow your meaning there.

Ben says:

Not Quiet Dead

I don’t see why anyone would worry, decent cursive doesn’t take that long to learn, and thats all you really need in todays world. I’m talking about signing your signature of course, which is useful when distributing the responsibility of whatever that signature is tied to (whether its a check, signing for a package, signing for an order, etc). Besides that, cursive isn’t really needed, and while there will always be people who excell in such. Mostly such skill will be used for pretty writing on wedding invites, or some such other place that it’ll be purely decorative. The reason for this is that cursive just isn’t needed anymore, it was on the way out as an important tool anyway and I don’t know why anyone would worry about it.
Mostly because typing is much more efficent, and which would you rather you child take? A calligraphy class or a typing class? My bets would be that it would be a typing class, because they’ll actually use such skills. While the calligraphy class will take you far beyond the basics that you need, and leave you with pretty writing and nothing else. Nobody wants cursive (teachers, business), it just isn’t useful in todays world.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Another article I saw about this issue of children no longer learning cursive cited studies that showed children who had 15 minutes of cursive writing practice a day wrote longer, expressed more complex thoughts and better sentence structure. “

I read a study that showed that people who blindly accept poor statistics from articles that equate causation with correlation are idiots.

Kate Gladstone (profile) says:

your teacher lied to you

Actually, the law does *not* require cursive signatures, and never has required them. (Yes, your teacher lied to you — probably because HER teacher long, long ago lied to HER.)
For documentation that cursive signatures have no legal superiority to printed (or other non-cursive) signatures, visit the Frequently Asked Questions page of my Handwriting Repair [tm] web-site at http://learn.to/handwrite — then spread the word!

DMcConnell says:


Bottom line(s): Do you think that neat, legible handwriting is a benefit? Do you, on the other hand, believe that sloppy illegible handwriting shows that you are a more modern thinker, unswayed by all those pencil and paper fossils of yesteryear-or simply lazy and uncaring about the first impression your handwriting makes? Even if you discount the cognitive benefits of the motor movements involved in performing the task of continuous multi-directional movements (the flow in the muscles in connection with text increases your brains interaction with it as well as the connections to and the ability to retrieve related thoughts and memories)-you have to admit that a neat hand written love note is much more powerful than one sent by e-mail or otherwise typed.

Noah C. Johnson says:


legible handwriting? you must mean print. print is inherently more legible then cursive. “be” and “li” as letter combinations require several minutes of staring to distinguish them in “correctly written” cursive; to name just a few of the letters that resemble each other more in cursive then in print. N and M can sometimes look identical in cursive. B, F and L are hard to distinguish. U and W require squinting to tell apart. E also has a decent resemblance to an L, though to a lesser degree than the previous problems. Similarly E and I; as well as I and J are hard to distinguish. To an even lesser degree, Y and Z look similar as well, similarly X and W. could probably think of a couple more if I wanted to, but those are the ones that come to mind. Those are just the difficulties when they are written correctly; it is even worse when written badly. I should add that cursive is 100% impossible to write “close enough” (by close enough, I mean that the letters although written imperfectly, are close enough to the correct shapes that they can be easily identified), cursive has to be perfected before it can be used, while print can be written close enough. I should add that cursive is extremely difficult to get right. print unambiguously wins on the legibility front; legible cursive is basically mythical. maybe you have a different definition of “neat” then I do; but I would consider something neat if it lacks unnecessary strokes, and is legible. print meets that definition far more then cursive. I don’t know your definition of neat, so feal free to provide it, and we can discuss what form of handwriting meets that criteria better.

illegible handwriting, that describes cursive perfectly, I don’t think it is sloppy, because of all the ornate loops and curls that destroy both legibility and speed in order to look more pompous; but cursive is illegible. anyway, some people just have bad handwriting, as part of their inherent nature, and it says nothing about their personality. modern thinkers actually know way more then old fashioned thinkers, we know the earth is round, we know how the dinosaurs died, we know what an atom is, to name but a few of thousands of things; if people who insist that old thinkers knew more had prevailed, we would still be in the stone age.

what cognative benfits? please define those benefits and provide some facts to prove their existence. as far as I know the benefits of cursive are wholly unproven if not mythical, no study has even proven benefits of cursive specifically, the closest is demonstrating that handwriting generally has some benefits, but no distinction between cursive and print; I have read dozens of studies about the issue, and none back up cursive when you read what they actually say. every study cursive proponent quote turns out to be either misquoted, taken out of context, overtly lied about, or cites a source that engages in this behavior. often, they do not cite the anything at all. rarely do they articulate what benefits they think cursive has. if something is a general benefit of handwriting, not of cursive, then in fact any form of handwriting will do, and it makes sense for that to be print, which is faster, easier, more legible, and looks like what you see in books. rarely does a supporter of cursive instruction even articulate what they think those benefits are.

as for the hand written love note claim, it is absurd. for one, it is too subjective and trivial to be the basis for any mandates that apply to all. those who are specifically interested in that can learn it on their own time. the special fealing exists because of the effort someone put into something, not the use of any particular system. I should also note once again that handwritten print exists; and would probably be preferable to use that, as people can actually read it.

Leoma Boutain says:


To whom all are intertested..cursive writing is fundamental to learning…it helps with fluency in writing and retainment of information and hastens the learning process. Printing slows down the learning due to the concentration needed to write the letters at a slower pace…..As an experienced tutorer I see the results both negative and positive…

|333173|3|_||3 says:

ball and stick

is that variety of inefficient cursive where, say, a “b” is written by drawing a vertical line, lifting the pen, then drawing an “o” so it touches the verticval line. a d, p, q, are all drawn likwise. as you can see, it means that this is the slowest form of writing, since you often have to lift your pen several times per letter. I will draw a picture and upload it when I have time.

Michelle B says:

I turned out okay

I’m 30, and have atrocious handwriting. In 5th grade, I was singled out of over 100 other 5th graders by my teachers and given a workbook for handwriting and a 2nd grade tablet because it was so bad. (It did very little for me).
Coincidentally, that was one year after they had tested my IQ and placed me in a gifted education program at school. I graduated with top honors, received awards for Art, Math, Music, and English (type-written papers) in high school–none of which were impacted by my incredibly ugly handwriting.
I have tried my best to improve my handwriting, but it just doesn’t work for me. It’s a blessing that we have electronic communication because I can rest assured that people will be able to read what I want to say, where if all we had were my handwriting most people wouldn’t even bother trying to read it.

Anna says:

Cursive is not necessarily better than print.

In fact, it is harder to read (having to read an entire paragraph in cursive will make me rip my hair out in frustration) and harder to write. I don’t know why people say it is easier to write; it is not. For me that is.

I always write in print and I completely boycott cursive even where it is required, simply because I forgot how and I want to make things easier for whoever is going to read my writing. My writing is a shorter and slightly more simplified version of print, and I can write it several times more quickly than cursive.

I also sign my signature in print. Why? So people are able read it, of course. It’s impossible to recognise a K or a T in my mom’s signature because it’s just one squiggly line. If I am allowed, I may also place my favourite symbol next to it.

Also, there are many MANY substyles of writing in print, therefore it is rather difficult to forge a name in print. For many people, it is very difficult to write the text a, because they write the writing a instead. The text a has a curved antenna over it, while the writing a doesn’t. I write the text a. Since I have for years, it looks natural and not “try-looking”. My name has one lowercase a in it, so it’s easy to spot a forge.

Also, many cursive letters look absolutely nothing like their print counterpart, and rather complicated to write, such as G, and Q, which looks more like a huge floppy 2 than anything else (Ramona Quimby thinks so too), and z, which I can easily mistake for a q. Last time I checked, z wasn’t a tail letter.

On a semi-related note, I draw and write with fast, jerky movements, so I’m better at straight lines and angles than curved lines. Cursive has too many curves in it, which I can send spinning off in the wrong direction, killing the letter. My practice of bending curves into soft angles won’t work. Print, is straight and more angular, exactly what I want, and saves me from having to change my writing/drawing style.

Jackie says:

Hmm, I think cursive still looks nice when it’s done right. I had to write in cursive for 2 years straight in middle school because my teachers wouldn’t accept anything else. It’s nice to know how to write in cursive because I can do those nifty handwriting analysis tests online, which are pretty darn accurate. =D

Noah C. Johnson says:


the “good looking” argument; this is ridiculous for several reasons. for one, there is much better looking outthere. if you want good looking writing, give up on cursive; try Bengali as a foreign language. The letters of Bengali (especially, but not limited to “kô” the first letter in their equivalent of alphabetical order) blow even the best looking written English out of the water. if you have seen what Bengali looks like, you can’t possibly tell me that ‘b’s that look like ‘l’s, ‘n’s that sometimes look like ‘m’s, ‘q’s that look like 2s or z’s that look like a cut open human heart (or at least that is the closest describable thing they look like to me), or similar forms are better looking than Bengali kô, and you don’t have to be able to read or speak Bengali to think those letters are good looking. I included links to a galleries of bengali letters at the end of this comment in case you have never seen them (the first one is kô, the second is a gallery of the base consonants, the third is a gallery of the vowels in independent form [I. E. the way they are written when they occur at the start of a word], the fourth is what “kô” looks like with the markers to indicate vowel sounds besides ô attached, the fifth is a gallery of the conjunct consonants which are much more complex). if we want everyone’s writing to look pretty, we should learn Bengali, not cursive; but off that tangent. Two, most people’s cursive is truly ugly and awful, only a few people can write cursive in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Three, beauty is a subjective opinion, and mandates that apply to all should not be based on subjective opinions unique to some; I find the form of cursive taught in schools to be very ugly with the sole exception of the letters s and c (the former only when lowercase). Four, there is pretty looking print as well, for instance try Gaelic Type, I find it much prettier and more legible then cursive. Five, aesthetic concerns are not a good reason to mandate that all people put a lot of hard work into something. It would be different if only people who voluntarily chose too put the work in though, but cursive as an elective would meet that criteria, mandatory cursive does not.

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E0%A6%95#/media/File:Bengali_Letter_Ka.svg https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Bengali_letters#/media/File:%E0%A6%AC%E0%A6%BE%E0%A6%82%E0%A6%B2%E0%A6%BE_%E0%A6%AC%E0%A6%B0%E0%A7%8D%E0%A6%A3%E0%A6%AE%E0%A6%BE%E0%A6%B2%E0%A6%BE.svg https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bengali_alphabet#/media/File:%E0%A6%AC%E0%A6%BE%E0%A6%82%E0%A6%B2%E0%A6%BE_%E0%A6%95%E0%A6%BE%E0%A6%B0%E0%A6%B8%E0%A6%AE%E0%A7%82%E0%A6%B9.svg https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bengali_consonant_clusters#/media/File:Bangla_consonant_conjuncts.svg

Melanie hutsell (user link) says:

Loss of Cursive Writing

If I took the handwritten letters that my Dad, Mom, Nana and friends have written to me over the years and typed them out, I know for sure, 100%, without a shadow of a doubt that they would not carry near the heart and emotional value that they do seeing them as they were written. Typing words into a computer and seeing them in black and white makes the writing more real and final, but getting the emotion out first through cursive writing before typing it can be a very powerful process. I have taken many creative writing classes and have been consistently trained to handwrite first, then type it in. The reasoning for this is because our emotion goes from our brain down through our arm, then through our hand whether it be our right or our left that we naturally write with and then onto the page. If we lose cursive writing, not only will cursive become a lost art, quality of writing will diminish and great writing will become a lost art. Journal writing will be gone and handwritten letters a thing of the past. If you feel that cursive can be done away with because you are not good at it, please take a moment to look at the insanity of that thought. Learning cursive writing in school is like anything else, some people connect with it and some people don’t. I hated algebra. I don’t see any use for it in my life. Do I think it should be done away with? Hell no! Those of you who see no use for it need to look past yourselves and think of those who will benefit from it so that great wiriting won’t become a thing of the past. I believe this with all of my heart.

dave-o says:

I remember being taught to write print letters and getting poor grades on them because I wrote more “square” (read: computer font-like; I could type before I went to kindergarten but wasn’t allowed near pencils at home because the walls were nice, blank canvases) than what they demanded — the first grade handbooks were all curly-cued so that we’d transition easily into cursive. My grandmother grew so frustrated that she taught me her pretty, spirally cursive.

My print handwriting is always nice and blocky & looks nothing like what they tried to teach me. My longhand looks both similar to my grandmother’s old-fashioned script and the round letters they taught at my school. Both are very legible (and the longhand a novelty!).

Most people nowadays have crap handwriting. I hate it! If you can’t write for someone else to read, you need to practice. My grandfather got me a notebook when I was nine in order to practice my writing in the form of a journal. For a year, he checked it weekly; it steadily improved.

Looking back at all my journals that I’ve kept in the decade since, I can see where I practiced with different styles of writing, different letters and forms, and how “bad” my handwriting is/was, yet how much nicer it grew and can be if I think about it.

Kate Gladstone (profile) says:

some oft-neglected facts about the matter

As a handwriting instruction/improvement/curriculum specialist, I think we need to attend to the research findings (JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH, May/June 1998 issue) showing that the fastest and most legible handwriters DO NOT adhere to cursive. (Neither, as it happens, do they really print.) Highest-speed highest-legibility handwriters join some, not all, letters: making the easiest joins and skipping the rest. Also, highest-speed highest-legibility handwriters tend to use print-like shapes for letters that “disagree” between printing and cursive (even when the handwriter joins letters).

Regarding signatures: The legal sources (extensively researched by me and by my legal counsel) DO NOT justify the common assumption that signatures require cursive. The following material legally defining signatures and writing comes from definitions in BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY (eighth edition) and from definitions in the revised Uniform Commercial Code (law in all fifty USA states).

From the BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY [ ] entry for “Signature” –

“A signature may be written by hand, printed, stamped, typewritten, engraved, photographed, or cut from one instrument and attached to another, and a signature lithographed on an instrument by a party is sufficient for the purpose of signing it, it being immaterial with what kind of instrument a signature is made. … whatever mark, symbol, or device one may choose to employ as a representative of himself is sufficient … The name or mark of a person, written by that person at his or her direction. In commercial law, any name, word, or mark used with the intention to authenticate a writing constitutes a signature. UCC 1-201(39), 3-401(2). A signature is made by use of any name, including any trade or assumed name, upon an instrument, or by any word or mark used in lieu of a written signature.”

From the BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY definition for “Writing” –

“The expression of ideas by letters visible to the eye.”

Articles 1-201 (39) and 1-201 (46) of the revised Uniform Commercial Code :

(39) “Signed” includes any symbol executed or adopted by a party with present intention to authenticate a writing.

(46) “Written” or “Writing” includes printing, typewriting, or any other intentional reduction to tangible form.

Neither source mentions cursive as a requirement for signatures or for handwriting.

For more information/resources on the above issues (and on other handwriting instruction/performance issues), visit my web-site at http://www.learn.to/handwrite . You can also contact me via e-mail at handwritingrepair@gmail.com or via phone at 518/482-6763. By the way … teaching kids to read cursive (whether or not they write it) takes an hour or less if done properly. I have taught five- and six-year-olds to read cursive, if they could read print.

Anthony Watts says:

I am a highschool student, and I had to refresh myself on how to write in cursive before I took my SAT’s. I learned cursive in Third grade, and after they stopped grading me on it I quit using it. Cursive writing is dead!!! I have figured out how to take notes extremely fast writing block letters (by not writing vowels unless the word begins or ends with one), and that helps out alot more then if I tried writing in my horrible cursive.

Concerned Grade 3 Teacher says:

Cursive Writing

Cursive writing is a skill that everyone should know how to do and do well. I admit that once students leave grade 3 it is no longer required in the curriculum to teach cursive again. Upper elementary teachers usually try to include review time and encourage students to use cursive in their everyday work. Unfortunately, if a child is still struggling with it by grade 5 or 6, they are often encouraged to print or a combination of the two because it is quicker. If we expect children to use cursive writing throughout their lifetime, I think we should encourage the government to change the curriculum and make cursive writing mandatory throughout grades 3-9. Let’s face it, to learn a new skill such as cursive writing, it will take more than one year of teaching. We give students 3 – 4 years before we expect them to master adding and subtracting to 18. Cursive writing should be no less.

kathryn paine says:

Cursive not lost

I think that while it is true that different people have different skills: fine hand coordination vs. larger movement coordination, it is better for the human brain to develop more fully when it is required to expand in various practices. If I always favor my right side, then that side will develop more, but the left side will atrophy. The brain functions better when all parts are exercised. Why do away with a skill just because it is hard? What athlete won a gold medal for that attitude? Building skill in areas that are more difficult will stimulate the brain and fight its aging. So, do not lose this practice for the benefit of bettering the mind.

Erdem Yucel (user link) says:

Cursive writing is only a manifestation of the cognitive functions

Cursive writing is only a manifestation of cursive cognitive functions. It helps as an exercise for that part of the brain. There are cursive thoughts and problem solving skills. This is one thing that separates neurons from computer chips. People are working really hard to creative cursive computational operations. On the other hand children are unlearning it. That’s what the focus should be. This is not about beautiful writing. Cursive writing requires that you form a type based on what preceeds and proceeds. A unit is not defined by its form but rather with its relation to others. What makes it even more interesting is that the other units are also subject to the same process. Its a very important cognitive ability to code and decode these relations.

Phil Scopes (user link) says:


I recall getting lots of cursive practice exercises in first and second grade, and when I transfered to a new school in third grade, the teacher had an “all cursive” policy for writing work. She’d say “write it cursively.”

The problem with learning cursive is that you have to write it far more than you read it. Books, worksheets, and most text you encounter in daily life is written in print form, so the cursive you see on the worksheets is just plain “strange.” How can you learn to write in a form you don’t read very often?

Also, print is much simpler because every letter looks the same regardless of the letters around it. In cursive, letters “morph” if certain letters follow them. For example, if I write the word “lost,” the S looks different from how it would look if I wrote “last,” because the “tail” on the right of the O causes an issue with how the S connects to it. Also, the M and N do weird things with their “humps” when preceded by certain letters. I’m sure that these “exceptions to the rules” overwhelm many young kids.

There was a comment above about “printing like young children.” I don’t agree that printing is “childish.” It’s just standard. After all, this blog is not typed in cursive.

Kate Gladstone (profile) says:

some facts on handwriting, cursive and otherwise

Actually, research shows that the fastest and most legible handwriters avoid cursive (and avoid “pure” printing, too).

For more information, visit

Kate Gladstone
founder of Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works
director of the World Handwriting Contest

Belgian Mom says:


I prefer cursive writing at any time. It’s beautiful, I can read it just fine, with curls and all. I have never learned to write differently. I notice that my young children, growing up in the U.S.A. do not write legibly. The spaces between words and letters are the same, the size difference between short and long/tall letters is nearly non-existent with the result, that they can’t read their own writing! Yes, it slows your writing down, and makes you concentrate more on spelling and contents.
Cursive was not meant to be fast. I think it challenges your creative spirit, and many kids can use that in this Cyber-age! I also find that my children don’t have to write a lot at all. Most work comes home on pre-printed sheets, with game-like excercises. They rarely actually have to fill in a word. What kind of language program is that?!
It seems to come down to teachers not having enough time to actually come up with real writing exercises.
I brought some writing books from Belgium for them to start working on a good skill to know in life.

Kate Gladstone (profile) says:

what cursive teachers don't want you to know about handwriting

Research shows that the fastest, clearest handwriters avoid cursive. They join some, not all, of the letters — making just the easiest joins, and skipping the rest — and use print-like rather than cursive-style forms for those letters that “disagree” between printing and cursive.

Since learning to read cursive takes an hour or less (I’ve taught five-year-olds to do it), and learning to write cursive takes a year or more, I do recommend that students learn how to read cursive for the sake of those who still write in cursive. But why require students to write in a style that the fastest and clearest handwriters avoid?

Kate Gladstone
handwriting instruction and remediation specialist —
Founder, Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works —
Director, the World Handwriting Contest —

L. Swinehart says:


I am a high school teacher and have done some research into the benefits of cursive writing. It is much more than just communicationg in a written manner, which you pointed out can be done in other ways, but what you don’t know is that cursive writing promotes cognitive thinking skills and many other things. Before you say that our students don’t need to learn to write you should do your research, and remember, Grandma still loves hand written notes.

Tod says:

Cursive Writing versus Printing

While doing the research I came across a comment, which goes something like this…for every person who is complimented on their penmanship there are 50 who aren’t. So if I take that statement and couple it with yours, for every person capable of better cognitive thinking skills, there are 50 who lack this ability…As a guess I’m going to say you’re a woman…women get wrapped around these kinds of things, i.e., how it is written, (in cursive) versus what is said (the content). When I was in the United State Air Force I had a female supervisor who once said, “If I was a man they’d say I was a strong leader, but because I’m a woman – I’m a bitch.” She wasn’t a bitch because she was a woman – she was a bitch because she was more worried that the t’s were crossed and i’s dotted in the documentation than that the mission was being carried out, and quite well I might add. Or the woman who when confronted with a failed inspection turned on the water works…

Thomas Bailey (profile) says:

brother has illegible handwriting

My brother is 35 years old, and his handwriting looks like a 3 or 4-year-old’s, sometimes legible, sometimes illegible. For the last 5-6 years, I couldn’t read what he has written. This year, his handwriting is somewhat more legible, but cannot count on its being consistantly readable. Letters and numbers requiring more than one stroke are the most difficult. His F looks like an R, 1, 4,5, and 9 look almost the same, and his O looks like a U. When it comes time to go grocery shopping, he would ask me to make the shopping list, as my handwriting is much clearer.

Thomas Bailey (profile) says:


Thinking that printing is childish is a leftover from the 1910’s-1920’s, maybe earlier. The fanciness of cursive is a leftover from the Victorian era, when heavy ornamentation is customary. This evolved into Palmer cursive. D’Nealian is simpler. I have always favored printing for its superior legibility and reasonable speed. That cursive is faster is an illusion created by the use of joining letters. There is also printwriting, a hybrid writing style combining the clarity of print with the speed promised by cursive, and has much to recommend it.

byron chandler says:


Ignorance is truely bliss. Check out the brain functions associated with each task. Also check out the research on therapy based on painting and cursive writting. Then weigh the pros and cons before you make such statements.

There is reason to believe that we become more intergated more whole in terms of brain function when we write in cursive. Is this good or bad or just a matter of opinion. Or is it in reality something that may result in altering our behavior and society? We have come a long way since body language was all we had to commnicate. Are we willing to take a step that requires a dependency on technology?

joanne gorby says:

Cursive handwriting

I have a ten year old grandson that really hass’t been taught how to form cursive letter. He has a workbook. but he said they never use it. He is in the 4th grade. Another thing I h ave always wondered about was when we teach our children the alphabet they learn to recognize them well, but in books and the keyboard the “a” is different. Why is that????

KateGladstone (profile) says:

Handwriting matters ... but does cursive matter?

Handwriting matters — but does cursive matter?

Legible cursive writing averages no faster than printed handwriting of equal or greater legibility.
Further research shows that cursive does NOT objectively improve the reading, spelling, or language of students who have dyslexia or dysgraphia.
(Sources for all research are available on request.)

The fastest, clearest handwriters avoid cursive. Highest speed and legibility in handwriting belong to those who join some letters, not all: joining the most easily joined letter-combinations, leaving the rest unjoined, using print-like shapes for letters whose printed and cursive shapes disagree.

Reading cursive still matters — but this is much easier and quicker to master than writing the same way too. Simply reading cursive can be taught in just 30-60 minutes — even to five- or six-year-olds (including those with dyslexia) once they read ordinary print. (There’s even an iPad app teaching how. The app — “Read Cursive” — is a free download: appstore.com/readcursive )

Teaching material for more practical handwriting abounds: fluency WITHOUT cursive.
Some examples, often with student work: BFHhandwriting.com, handwritingsuccess.com, briem.net, HandwritingThatWorks.com, italic-handwriting.org, studioarts.net/calligraphy/italic/curriculum.html )

Even here in the United States, educated adults are quitting cursive. In 2012, handwriting teachers across North America were surveyed at a conference hosted by Zaner-Bloser, a cursive textbook publisher. Only 37% wrote in cursive; another 8% printed. The majority — 55% — wrote with some elements resembling print-writing, others resembling cursive.

When even most handwriting teachers don’t use cursive, why exalt it?

Cursive’s devotees sometimes claim that cursive justifies anything said or done to promote it. They state (in sworn testimony before school boards and state legislatures) that cursive cures dyslexia or prevents it, that it lets your brain work, that it creates proper grammar and spelling, that it teaches etiquette and patriotism and reasoning, or that it does anything else educationally imaginable. Some invoke research: citing studies that turn out to be misquoted or otherwise misrepresented by the claimant.

That eagerness to misrepresent research has substantial consequences, as the misrepresentations are made — under oath — in testimony to school districts, state legislatures, and other bodies voting on educational measures. Proposals for cursive are, without exception, introduced by legislators or others whose misrepresentations (in their own testimony) are later revealed — though investigative reporting does not always prevent the bill from passing into law, even when discoveries include signs of undue influence on the legislators promoting the cursive bill. (Documentation on request: I’m glad to speak to anyone interested in bringing this serious issue before the public.)

By now, you probably wonder: “What about signatures?” Brace yourself: in any nation, cursive signatures have no special legal validity over other kinds. (Hard to believe? Ask any attorney!)
 Questioned document examiners (specialists in identification of signatures, verification of documents, etc.) tell 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 — 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.

Calling for cursive to support handwriting is like calling for top hats and crinolines to support the art of tailoring.

Kate Gladstone —
DIRECTOR, the World Handwriting Contest
CEO, Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works — 518-482-6763
165 North Allen Street
Albany, NY 12206-1706 USA


KateGladstone (profile) says:

Don't be too quick

I read that article and looked up the original research. The handwriting used in that study was print-writing, not cursive. This hasn’t stopped devotees of cursive from misrepresenting the study — intentionally, at times, because some dupporters of cursive have “explained” to me that “describing this study as being about cursive is ethically and intellectually necessary because that way of describing the study is necessary in order to support cursive.”

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