TSS: Handwriting

If you are not a teacher, then you probably tuned out the debates that began a couple of months ago regarding cursive writing.  The thing is, cursive doesn’t seem to hold the mandatory benchmark that it used to when, say, I was a student.  Many claim that handwriting is moving quickly to obsoleteness.  With all of our e-media and e-communications, it is pointless to waste time teaching you kids how to write in cursive. 

"Nowadays, parents would be pretty upset if we sent kids to handwriting camp," he said. "Kids just don't write letters now. They send e-mails or text messages. ... A lot of those old ways are going away. How many bills do you pay by writing a check anymore?" (Article here

However, what I find most interesting is in the same article, “they” claim that a nationwide survey was given to educators, and out of all of the teachers responded, 90% claim that they teach cursive. (The teachers surveyed were first through third grade teachers, but I couldn’t find where they said how many or if more states responded). 

Of course this subject interests me especially so as an English teacher.  Just last year they added a new benchmark to my requirements of teaching.  And if you haven’t guessed, it’s cursive writing.  I was appalled.  After all, isn’t that something that elementary school teachers should be doing, along with teaching phonics?  I recall my own elementary school years; it was a grueling task practicing my cursive.  I had a difficult time with the letter “s”.  I just could not get it perfect enough for my teacher.  Man, was I relieved when I “grew up” and it was acceptable for me to add my own personal flair to writing.

Now though it is different.  I have students in my class who cannot read OR write in cursive.  If I ask them to sign their name on a document (behavior contract or grade contract, usually) they can only PRINT their name. It is shocking. And then I have to start asking myself the same questions that were brought up in the debate.  Should I be as worried as I am?  Does it truly matter?

When was the last time that I actually wrote?  Outside of signing my name to a check or a birthday card, I cannot truly remember.  It might have been when I sent in my money for the Game On diet to Amanda.  And prior to that?  Who knows!

What do I handwrite?  Lists.  I make a lot of lists.  Dates in my planner.  Let’s see, sometimes I pass a note back and forth in a boring faculty meeting, but more than likely, I just text.
When do I use e-communications? Uh, almost for everything!  Even this post, I’m typing in MS Word rather than handwrite it.  I send tons of emails a day (I detest talking on the phone).  Even with my mom, who I love bunches and talk to frequently, it’s all through texts, twitter, or facebook.  (Unless I’m seeing her in person of course).  My grades are done electronically.  Notes from meetings, lesson plans, weight watchers.  All done electronically.  Rarely is anything handwritten.

Glancing at the two lists above, you might think hands-down I’m okay with allowing cursive writing to move to the wayside, wouldn’t you?  I mean, I hardly use it, why would I care if my students know it.  My answer might not make sense rationally, but I can’t help but think that as much as I dig technology and everything that it has allowed for us, I can’t help but wonder if we are losing out on traditions that one day we will miss.  Does that make me a Luddite? I don’t think so.  Should we no longer teach addition and subtraction because we have calculators?

Finally, I can’t help but wonder if the bank will accept a printed signature when my students sign a mortgage to their first house?

Curious, what are your thoughts about teaching cursive?

The Real

I’m glad that this past week has left me unscathed.  I did not fall asleep in the car while driving home from my many late nights at school. The basketball games were exciting and the Star Light Dance was amazing.  This week I will begin auditions for the talent show at school and work another basketball game.  Luckily the upcoming weekend is three days.  *sigh*

The Blog

I've been a big ole' slacker on the blog.  I'm hoping to get some posts written this evening since I have quite a bit going on in my cluttered mind.

The Books

This week, I read
·      Seer of Shadows by Avi
I plan to read
·      Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (continuation)
·      Subjection of Women by John Stuart Mill (continuation)


  1. Honestly, other than signatures I think cursive is pointless. I never write anything at all in cursive. I quit using it right around 8th grade or so. It's funny, because actually my print handwriting took on some cursive characteristics, so some of the letters are connected, but are still print letters. Even when I write long handwritten letters, which I do, or when I'm writing stories or novels by hand (which I also do), I use print. And I think with as much that's in computer-font these days, there isn't much of a point to cursive. But yes, signatures. My kids are still learning cursive in 3rd grade. They love it, they think it's fun to connect up all their letters and make their handwriting "pretty" (which means that it becomes nearly unreadable in reality).

  2. The only D's I ever got in school were for handwriting in grades 2 and 3. My handwriting got any better in spite of those grades and all the work I was forced to do. I really tried, too.

    So, you can put me down in the "It's pointless" camp.

    And, for the record, even a person who cannot sign his own name can get a mortgage. Just make your mark and have a witness.

  3. I'm strongly in favor of teaching how to write in cursive. It's useful to have the choice to write in cursive if you fancy it -- I know some people give it up and print their whole lives, and some people use a strange print-cursive hybrid. As for me, I'd never have gotten through high school if I'd had to print all my notes from classes. Also, not being able to do cursive makes it much less fun to invent a signature, which I did when I was thirteen, all over a diagram of the Globe Theater in English class.

    On the other side, I don't necessarily think kids need to write perfect standard cursive. Part of the fun of it, to me, is being able to do your own things with your handwriting. (I say this as a girl who has invented four and regularly uses two alternate handwritings.) My boss writes in perfect standard cursive, with a fountain pen, and although I think it's charming, it would be dull if everyone had that exact same handwriting.

  4. I definitely think cursive should still be taught (although I can't think of a reason not to, but STILL!) I think it's crazy that handwriting is "going away"...

    On another note, I was just wondering what school you work at? (I understand if you can't say but just wondering since you're local!)

  5. I think I am probably one of the rare people who writes in cursive. I find it quicker than printing--although my handwriting is a conglomerate of print and cursive.

    But, you make a good point about people not being able to read it. What will be lost? It's hard enough to read my great-great grandmother's journals from the 1800s because of her handwriting--will my own grandchildren be utterly unable to read what I leave behind?

    Plus it makes me a bit sad that we're almost completely electronic. I still get letters and cards from my grandmother and LOVE them. Makes me want to send out a bunch of letters this afternoon--but writing that much makes my hand cramp now. ;)

  6. As an educator interested in brain development I find it distressing that we have moved away from teaching cursive. In the Montessori environment we introduce cursive to students at the primary level and continue on through elementary. There is research that documents the importance of the connection between the use of the hand that helps develop fine motor skills at a young age and the ability to focus attention and concentrate. Writing in cursive is very different than typing or using a keypad. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

  7. You don't sound like a Luddite to me. The thing about technology is, it's SO fragile. Not to go all apocalyptic on you, but can you imagine computers failing us 50 years down the road and nobody knowing how to write things by hand anymore? That would set us back to an almost unimaginable extent. I'm all for technology, but it's good to ALSO know how to do things the old-fashioned way.


Talk to me!