Will Today’s Students Miss Cursive Writing If They Never Learn It?
Is cursive writing still useful in an age where so much information is written, shared, and stored electronically? Should today’s students be required to learn handwriting?
Writing has an important place in our history and culture. There are many reasons why students should continue to learn to write with a pen or pencil — not just a keyboard. I don’t believe that cursive writing should be removed from the public school curriculum.
A Rite of Passage
While researching this topic, I came across this article, Does Cursive Need to Be Taught in the Digital Age? by Cindy Long in neaToday. Not only does this article sum up the pros and cons of teaching cursive writing pretty well, but I found the comments especially enlightening.
My favorite comment was by Leila Jaden, a black educator who went to segregated schools in the South. For her, learning cursive was a rite of passage. Cursive was considered “big kid writing,” and it gave students who learned it a sense of accomplishment as they considered themselves more grown up because they had learned it. Ms. Jaden saw a link between feeling more grown up and acting with more self-control. She sees cursive writing as one of the skills that helped her succeed in the mainstream culture, even though she received her education in a segregated school. I hope you will read her entire thoughtful comment.
Keyboarding Demands a Different Skill Set than Handwriting
Learning to write by hand, first in manuscript and then in cursive, develops fine motor skills that children need in other areas of development, as well. Learning to type is a different sort of motor skill, using a different area of the brain. One can become good at keyboarding with repetitious practice, no real thinking required. The eye sees the letter and the finger acts on the keyboard. It becomes automatic.
Cursive Writing and Character
When one learns any kind of handwriting, forming letters is a deliberate act. It requires thinking about what one is writing. In fact, the way one forms letters becomes unique. It reflects personality and character traits so well that graphologists can discern character by reading a person’s handwriting. One’s handwriting is as unique as one’s fingerprints.
Because writing takes discipline, some people have even changed their habits and character traits by changing their writing. Your Handwriting Can Change Your Life explains this process.
I played with graphology for a few years to better understand myself and my friends. What I learned from studying the signature of an IRS auditor helped us discover she was lazy, and we planned our strategy to take full advantage of her weakness as we prepared our defense. We won. At the end, the IRS owed us money. Here are some of the books that helped me with my study of handwriting analysis.
The Definitive Book of Handwriting Analysis: The Complete Guide to Interpreting Personalities, Detecting Forgeries, and Revealing Brain Activity Through the Science of GraphologyHandwriting Analysis!: The Ultimate Beginner’s Course To Identifying Personalities, Sex, Lies & Trends Through HandwritingBetween the Lines: Understanding Yourself and Others Through Handwriting Analysis Handwriting analysis: The art and science of reading character by grapho analysis. This was the first book I studied. It appears to be out of print now.
Cursive Writing Connects to the Heart
Far too many people today understand the thrill one gets when finding a snail mail letter or card from a friend or loved one in the mailbox. Such letters were the highlight of my dorm existence in college. I had several penpals during those years — all in handwriting. Some had a special printing style, but most used cursive.
These handwritten letters and cards communicated more heartfelt messages than I can imagine coming from an electronic device. It seems the handwritten words came from heart to pen. Each word became important. When I wrote letters it often took a long time since I thought carefully about each sentence before I wrote it. Handwriting slows us down as we think about what we are writing.
Handwriting also reveals the state of our mental and physical health. If you are depressed, your handwriting shows it. As one ages and becomes weak, handwriting becomes shaky. I saw this in my mother’s journal in her last years. Handwriting reveals more information to the reader than the words by themselves would reveal when typed.
Cursive Writing Can Be an Art Form
I remember well my junior high and high school years when many of us experimented with our cursive writing styles. The way we chose to form our letters was an expression of who we believed we were. We realized that our cursive writing was a statement of our personality, so we worked on how we wanted to present ourselves.
There is a Wealth of Materials for Teaching Handwriting — Manuscript or Cursive
When I was selling educational resources, one of the best I found was Evan-Moor Daily Handwriting Practice. It’s a basic daily practice book that integrates age-appropriate subjects from around the curriculum into the practice pages. Books are available for teaching Modern or Traditional Manuscript or Cursive Writing. These books have been very popular with both teachers and parents. They work well in a homeschool environment.
There are teaching and practice books for every type of manuscript and cursive writing that appeal to a wide variety of student interests. Some feature fun facts or jokes. Others use Bible verses in the practice pages. Some are designed for adults to teach themselves cursive writing. Here are a few of the most interesting.
Cursive Handwriting Practice Workbook for TeensCursive Writing Practice: Jokes & RiddlesCursive Handwriting Practice Workbook for BoysBible Verses Cursive Handwriting Practice Cursive Writing Practice: Inspiring Quotes: Cursive Writing Skills for Left-Handed StudentsCursive Handwriting Workbook for Adults : Teach Yourself Cursive: Create a Cursive That Fits YouTeaching Cursive! This Method Works
Cursive Writing Makes a Personal Statement in an Increasingly Impersonal World
As technology dominates more and more of our lives, handwriting, and most especially cursive handwriting, encourages us to slow down and make a more personal expression in writing than we can make electronically. From the written signature we put on legal documents to the words we pen to a loved one, our unique writing puts a bit of ourselves on the paper. When a person who loves us sees that writing addressed to them, it makes a direct connection to their heart. They know you will be inside that envelope, connecting with your heart.
There’s a reason most Valentines and love letters are written and addressed in cursive. No printed script or font can be as personal as your own writing style. If you don’t have one, it’s not too late. Check out one of the resources above and get started learning or improving your cursive writing.
Whether your children are learning cursive writing in school or not, you can use some of the suggested materials to help them learn this skill at home. It will help their brains develop more fully, teach them patience and character, and leave them ready to communicate even if the power goes down for a long time. It may also help them discover what’s in their hearts as they thoughtfully write their words.