Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cursive Writing a Fading Skill

Cursive writing is apparently falling by the wayside. In schools, most "penmanship" classes have slowly been converted into typing classes over the years. In fact, in 2011 the writing test of the National Assessment of Educational Progress will require 8th and 11th graders to compose their answers on computers, with 4th graders following in 2019. And why not, since our society relies so heavily on forms on computers, technology, and instant messaging?

I, for one, won't miss it. I learned cursive writing and thought that it was named as such because it made me want to say words I wasn't allowed to. I couldn't make my letters look as nice as the writing of my classmates. And there was only so much practice I was willing to put into it on top of all the "real" homework I had. After a few years of trying to write in cursive and never being satisfied with the end result, I totally rebelled in 6th grade. From that point on and to this day, I write it printed, all-capital letters. My signature looks like it belongs to a doctor (my mother wishes!).

Apparently I'm not the only one who prefers printing. For the SAT's written essay portion, a 2007 report by the College Board found that just 15 percent of test-takers chose to write in cursive, while the others wrote in print. Most adults don't write in cursive, though many do employ a printing/cursive hybrid. And as technology continues to improve, there will be fewer and fewer reasons to write things out by hand.

It's doubtful, though, that cursive writing will disappear entirely. Cursive writing helps to teach children hand-eye coordination and fine muscle control. Keyboards and computers are still not available for every student in every classroom, meaning homework, school notes, and tests will be handwritten for years to come. And finally, no matter how reliant on texting and e-mailing we become, we will probably always jot down notes with paper and pen.


  1. The other thing that writing in cursive does is make you think through what you're going to write. There is no back space, no spell check, no grammar check.

    Just you, your thoughts, paper and one chance to get it right. Or do it over again.

    I sometimes think that slowing down to write is the best way. In fact, I write all my roughs out on paper, in (wretched) cursive then type it up and edit.

  2. I'm with Sam. Curses to cursive. It's been over 40 years since I had that in school and I dont miss it a bit. The Romans used to chisel in stone. I bet that gave them a lot of time to think about what they were going to write and I bet they would trade places with us in a heartbeat.

  3. I still write on paper, but I gave up a looong time ago on cursive. I have a stack of notebooks from all the notes, lists, and what-not collected over the years. But none of it's written in cursive. I can see the reasoning behind dropping it in school. Though it is a little sad, lots of aspects of language have fallen by the wayside. In the case of English, we've dropped vowels and consonants left and right. Have you ever seen what Old English looks like? OMG! Someday we'll be looking back at cursive the same way :) I am OK with that!