My county just bought a new reading curriculum and there is a part that incorporates cursive handwriting for 4th graders.  However, we haven't been encouraged to use it or make time withthat part of the program.  My students cannot read cursive let alone write in cursive.  After a discussion with some friends this weekend- a friend of mine said it was unneccessary to know how to read cursive because everyone types and texts when they communicate.  What does the tech community think- should we spend time teaching how to write and read cursive or is it more valuable to teach typing skills?

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Thank you to everyone that has responded.  Does anyone know when handwriting (printing or cursive) became something that isn't valuable?  A few of you have mentioned that you have a difficult time getting your students to print- let alone write cursive.  Is it more important to be able to print (write) or type? 

I am a pre-service teacher doing my field work.  This discussion on cursive writing has been a pet peeve of mine for years.  I am a mother of 4.  Two children ages 14 and 15 were taught cursive and can read and write it but do not use it and were not forced. The next guy is 10.  He was taught briefly but was told NOT to write in cursive.  Now the youngest will also be told the same.  I feel this is a language and every historical document was written in cursive and all learners should know this language.  It is our responsibility for future generations and centuries to come, to preserve this language.  Not to mention that some still write in cursive and a teacher may feel ignorant if they can not read a note from a parent. 

In all of my college courses most students print notes.  Usually only myself and a couple others that are my age write in cursive.  I have observed this for the past 12 years from others, and I have been concerned.   We are doing a dis service to students if we do not teach them to read cursive writing! 

Imagine a future.......a colony of people trying to figure out a document and what the meaning of the writing.  Power is down and they only have their knowledge to begin a new life.  Could be the Constitution, or Declaration of Independence!  Think of the caves and the writing on the walls.  Could be far fetched....but students should know cursive in my opinion.

It sounds all too much like every sci-fi movie that I've ever heard of or seen- I liked your connection.  Thanks for commenting, especially from a parent's perspective. 

Handwriting matters ... But does cursive matter?

Research shows: the fastest and most legible handwriters avoid cursive. They join only some letters, not all of them: making the easiest joins, skipping the rest, and using print-like shapes for those letters whose cursive and printed shapes disagree. (Citation: Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, and Naomi Weintraub. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HANDWRITING STYLE AND SPEED AND LEGIBILITY. 2001: on-line at http://www.sbac.edu/~werned/DATA/Brain%20research%20class/handwriti... — and there are actually handwriting programs that teach this way.)
Reading cursive still matters -- this takes just 30 to 60 minutes to learn, and can be taught to a five- or six-year-old if the child knows how to read. The value of reading cursive is therefore no justification for writing it.
Remember, too: whatever your elementary school teacher may have been told by her elementary school teacher, cursive signatures have no special legal validity over signatures written in any other way. (Don't take my word for this: talk to any attorney.)


Yours for better letters,

Kate Gladstone — CEO, Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works
Director, the World Handwriting Contest
Co-Designer, BETTER LETTERS handwriting trainer app for iPhone/iPad
http://www.HandwritingThatWorks.com
Wow Kate, you really brought about a good discussion.

Thanks!  I was surprised at all the feedback.  Did you know handwriting is a standard in the MD State Curriculum and in Common Core?  I took a page from Wes' book and searched cursive and there was an even longer discussion from a long time ago about cursive. 

Is cursive handwriting in Common Core? Where?

Also, do the standards (in Maryland, Common Core, or anywhere else) _define_ what cursive is (and isn't)? If not,then no standards/adoption committee/school board/etc. can reject any book which claims that what it's teaching is cursive,

For example: there are at least two published textbooks whose cursive is semi-joined (omitting all but the easy joins) and uses print-like shapes of letters whose cursive shapes disagree with the print shapes. This, as stated above, has the support of research (it also has, for me, the support of experience), and it is in fact the way that cursive used to be — almost 500 years ago, when the first books in our alphabet on this subject were published — but, even today, the dictionaries would disagree on whether these books have cursive or not. (Some dictionaries define cursive as anything that connects letters; others — even from the same dictionary-publisher — define cursive as connecting _all_ letters ... So, what one teacher or administrator calls "cursive," the teacher or administrator next door may call "not cursive" ... )
To see the textbooks I'm talking about: http://www.BFHhandwriting.com and http://www.handwritingsuccess.com ... What do you think? (By the way, both programs include highly effective material for teaching kids — or anyone — to _read_ conventional
cursive in about a half hour.)

On a personal level, my daughter's school no longer teaches cursive - only printing now (I hope she never is asked to "sign" something as I'm not sure how she'd do it).  How I take notes today it's a combination of printing and cursive, I'm assuming my mind is determining how to document what  I'm hearing in the quickest way possible.

Understanding how to read cursive is important to some degree as there are still plenty of text that all we have is the original written word; we may have re-written it into a print form but some of the nuances are lost.  i.e. you can tell when someone was frustrated by the way they held their writing instrument, the pressure and slant being used, etc...

 

Thanks for your input.  I also use a hybrid of printing and cursive when I take notes also.  You bring up an interesting point of losing the meaning behind handwriting analysis when we convert handwritten documents to printed text.  You can really gain some insight about a person based on their handwriting. 

From what I've seen, handwriting analysts get things wrong at least as often as they get them right. Back when the Unabomber was in the news, I showed one of his letters to some handwriting analysts & asked them to tell me about this person  (I had removed his name from the letter). They each  said he was a nonviolent, loving individual — one said he would be an ideal kindergarten teacher ...

As stated above, signatures are legal in _any_ style ... Ask your attorney! (If someone abitually signs in a given way, _that_ is his/her signature even if it's in Morse Code, let alone printing.) For that matter, it turns out that the simplest signatures are the hardest to forge ... Forgers LOVE to have cursive to copy!

I'm a pre-service teacher and an English non-native speaker. I remember when I started to learn English in 1990s, we were required to practice handwriting and my English teachers (non-native too) used cursive. Most of us were attracted to the beautiful handwriting and practiced it although we were not forced to. It was not until a couple of years ago that I realised that cursive writing is not being used by native speakers. I was also a bit surprised at some posts in this thread saying most kids cannot even read cursive nowadays. I can understand that in this technological age, keyboarding is replacing handwriting and cursive reading and writing is of little use. But it is a pity if cursive would a lost art, which is part of cultural heritage and I can't imagine if nobody in the future could read the historical documents in libraries without technological assistance. 

In my opinion, cursive can be taught as an elective to those students who are interested in and kids should be encouraged but not forced to learn it in schools.  

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