Is Cursive a Dying Art? MomTalk

Schools across the country are spending less time on penmanship and more on computer lessons.

I remember a cold, dark Spring day when my mom gave my brothers and me paper and pens and asked us to write get-well letters to Dr. McGuire, our family doctor who had delivered many Blackmore babies, administered polio serums and vaccines to all of us and sent us off with a safety pop and a pat on the head every time.

Dr. McGuire was dying and my mom hoped that our letters, in his final days, would remind him of how highly our family regarded him and his wisdom.

I curled every cursive L and elegantly glided through the capital S in my shaky third-grade hand. It was with the utmost care that my letter was written.

So when I read in this Sunday's paper that schools across the country were scaling back, some altogether eliminating, their cursive handwriting lessons, I began to wonder. If I was a kid today, asked to write a dying man a get-well wish, would I have dared to compose a text message complete with a colon and left parentheses emoticon : ( at the end of my final, abbreviated sentence?

At the risk of sounding archaic and out-of-touch, there's an intimacy to a handwritten letter that cannot be duplicated in a text or email. A paper letter filled with the missives of a loved one is far more meaningful and lasting than its electronic counterpart.

Many school officials contend that most correspondence with their students is done through electronic media. No one turns in a 12-page double-spaced paper report any longer. Tangibility is no longer necessary. As a result, they've ruled in favor of broadening their keyboarding and computer curriculums. While I can see the school's point and agree that the handwritten word is becoming more of a novelty, I fear we may be fostering a generation of children who are more comfortable expressing themselves through emoticons in cold electronic forums.

While I know something will be lost if cursive is forgotten, I wager many kids won't miss the repetitive nature of the art form.

Do you believe cursive is a necessary part of education? Would you teach it at home if your school decides to remove it from the curriculum?

Deb Melchert September 29, 2011 at 06:52 PM
It's sad that learning to write is considered old fashioned. We have a generation that can't do simple math because cash registers tell them how much change to give a customer. Now we have kids that can't put a proper sentence together. Everything is abbreviated as CJM nicely pointed out. I'm from the old school. Teach them to write correctly and legibly. But then again, I believe everyone should be taught how to drive a manual transmission too. Technology is a wonderful thing, but it doesn't mean we have to eliminate everything prior to the latest "version"
Vicki Bensley Burke September 29, 2011 at 06:54 PM
The best argument I have heard is being able to READ cursive. Some basic cursive can be taught, which is fine, but I think the emphasis on it should no longer be there. Work on more language skills, less on the mechanics. Learning to write cursive has nothing to do with learning to write (as in put thoughts down on paper, whether typing or handwriting) and for some, as it was for me, writing became much easier when I didn't have to worry as much about the mechanics of penmanship. As for signing one's name, that can easily be taught - besides, most adults signatures I have seen look like chicken scratch! What I really wish they would do away with is the horrible d'nealian they are teaching instead of block print. They do this, supposedly, to ease the transition to cursive, but meanwhile their print - which they will undoubtedly need more often for forms, etc. - is basically unreadable to those who have not be taught d'nealian!
LISA HINES September 29, 2011 at 09:47 PM
Exactly !! They either print their names or if they do attempt the minuscule amount of cursive they were taught, it looks as if they are all third graders, regardless of their actual biological age !!! I have seen college aged kids sign internship and/or job applications and their signatures look as if they are 9 year olds !!! Besides that, printing takes soooo much longer to do than cursive. All these kids who do have to do writing assignments on paper for school (and they do) could actually save more time by writing in cursive. Printing is so much more time-consuming and laborious than the flow and continuity of cursive. Unbelievable !!
John September 30, 2011 at 09:14 PM
My cursive is embarrassing... I type as much as I possible can and if it needs to be legible I print it.
Karen Schultz October 02, 2011 at 10:15 PM
Take away the ability to write, read a map and understand people deeper than 140 characters, blur constitutional freedoms, morals and values that keep our spirits soaring high and filled with empowerment then pull the plug and take over.....being extreme but making a point we never know where life will take us and strategic survival skills are not something we want to loose...EVER!


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