Cursive Handwriting Is Not Needed – Teach Skills That Are

Cursive Handwriting Is Not Needed – Teach Skills That Are

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I want to begin by saying that I am not a teacher, although I’ve worked in education related careers for many years. I’ve been reading both sides of the cursive handwriting controversy, and I don’t believe that there is any good reason to keep cursive handwriting in the school curriculum.

Cursive handwriting should not be taught in schools anymore

Many reasons have been giving for saving cursive, yet I can’t help feeling that it is mostly a feeling of nostalgia that is fueling the fight. I don’t feel that nostalgia, and never thought that cursive handwriting was so wonderful to begin with. In fact, I read that part of the reason, other than speed, for the origin of cursive writing, was due to quill pens, which would drip ink when lifted off the paper. So it was more practical to have a style of writing where the pen stayed on the paper for an entire word. And if we are talking speed, computers are infinitely quicker.

Cursive handwriting not necessary anymore

Some teachers argue that the act of learning cursive handwriting has benefits for children. I am sure that there are other ways to get those benefits without teaching an unneeded skill. Our education system is still so behind in the technology skills that students will actually need to know to get by in the real world and many of those might incorporate those benefits with touch screens and educational video games.

Cursive might have been nice for those who had beautiful handwriting. But the majority of people did not. Think about how many times you had trouble reading a note from someone with terrible handwriting.  And be thankful that doctor’s prescriptions are not handwritten anymore. People have actually died due to bad handwriting.

Cursive handwriting not needed in school

For those of you worried about signing your name, as more and more people pay bills and sign contracts online, it will be less necessary. However, any parent can easily teach their child how to sign their name. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Because I barely use cursive anymore, my signature doesn’t even look like my name.

And the argument that kids won’t be able to read the Declaration of Independence is utterly ridiculous. If you insist on reading the original, even though there are regular typed copies in books and all over the Internet, an inability to write cursive, doesn’t mean an inability to read it. Many kids learn to read print before they learn to write it.

Cursive handwriting no more

And lastly, some people just don’t have the motor skills for cursive. My son, a straight A student, struggled over it, and could never write in cursive so that it was legible. So all that work didn’t even help his fine motor skills. Luckily, he never had to use cursive again in his life and has a successful career.

And by the way, if you are nostalgic for handwritten notes and don’t want to lose that, see the movie, Her. It takes place in the future, and Joaquin Phoenix’s character has a job personally handwriting letters for other people. That might just be a good business to open soon.

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  1. My son’s school doesn’t teach it. But what about when he needs to sign his name? He won’t be able to.

    • Mel, as I wrote in my post, my signature bears no resemblance to my name. As long as you can show him how to scribble his name, that is good enough. Most bills are paid online and even contracts are being signed online lately. It is a thing of the past.

    • Leslie Fish :

      Don’t worry. Any way that a person *consistently* writes their name — in script, print, or even an X — is their legal signature. Just ask any lawyer.

      What we call “Cursive” (actually, Palmer-Method, invented in 1852 by a schoolbook seller) is ONLY ONE FORM of script-writing, and very far from the best of them. Other forms — like Copperplate and Italic — are much clearer, easier to learn, quicker to teach, and keep their legibility far longer after the student leaves school. “Cursive”, on the other hand, has a nasty tendency to degenerate into that illegible scribble for which (as the author notes) doctors are so notorious, which has caused thousands of deaths from “medical error”, as any nurse or pharmacist can tell you.

      Yes, there are advantages to learning penmanship in the public schools, but for heaven’s sake, let’s choose a better form than this! If only for the lives it has cost us, Cursive deserves to die.

  2. I have horrible handwriting, so I am happy for the pervasiveness of typed communication. But kudos to those with the fine motor skills that allow them to write in cursive beautifully. Trust me, nobody wants a hand written note from me!

  3. I really like the way cursive looks but I honestly don’t use it. I’d hate to see it disappear completely but I’m sure there are more important skills to focus on.

  4. There are a lot of skills that are unneeded. Like, do I need to know much about the War of 1812? When was the last time I used algebra? Do I need to know how to read music? We can look at education like a trade school–or we can look at it as a way of broadening kids outlook and also developing certain manual dexterity and creative skills. I’d hate to see schools turn into trade schools.

  5. Carol, while you might not need to know history, algebra or music, it needs to be taught so that you can see if you like it or not and if they want to learn more. Cursive is not a subject. It was a tool that is no longer needed in this day and age. If you still want to use it, or teach it to your grandchildren, that is great. But, just as they don’t teach Latin anymore, there is no time or reason to teach cursive in schools.

  6. I don’t use it but I do like that some schools still teach it. I hope my daughter’s school does1

  7. Before reading any of the comments on this post, I thought to myself, “Whoa – she is opening up a big ole can of worms”!

    As the mother of 10 children and 22 (with more on the way) grandchildren, I have seen the struggle it has been, for many of my kids and grands, to hone the cursive handwriting skill. So often I watched my children become disheartened, because their handwriting didn’t live up to the examples in their books (which ironically are not written by hand). Yes, it’s a lovely “art” for some, but for others the task is a nightmare!

    I actually advocate the idea of “trade schools”. Certainly not for the very young, but it should be a ready option for teens. I believe that it would considerably lesson the drop out rates, and our youth could find joy in the learning of skills that they might other wise never realize. I am a fairly intelligent person, but no matter how hard I worked at it, I was unable to master algebra. Not with studying, not with tutoring. I find that the lack of being able to solve algebraic problems has not been a downfall in my life. I’m a productive citizen, and have found no need for algebra in my life. On the other hand, I embraced English and Literature and both have served me quite well.

    When our educational system takes learning differences into account and begins to teach to our children in ways that best accommodate them, then our youth will come to crave learning instead of, as often happens, dread the classroom. If for every grade level in a particular school, we had a classroom for visual learners, auditory learners and kinesthetic learners, we would provide an exciting learning experience for all our kids! This wouldn’t cost a dime more than we are already spending, and I would venture to say that it would actually lower the cost of education. I believe that it would cut down on disciplinary problems and increase productivity!

    Ok – I’m now going to get off my soap box before I get a nose bleed!

    • Thank you Libby, for such a well thought out reply. Our education system is so antiquated and needs to make many changes. You are so right that if kids enjoy school they will learn so much more.

  8. My daughters school teaches it, but not as much…. she only gets a few practice assignments… it would be nice to focus on it more.

  9. I can see your point, especially since I still struggle to sign me married last name and we’re celebrating our 5th anniversary!
    But I would like my son to learn cursive. There’s nothing wrong with nostalgia and even electronic signatures require you using your finger to sign.

  10. Handwriting matters — but does cursive matter? The research is surprising. For instance, it has been documented that legible cursive writing averages no faster than printed handwriting of equal or greater legibility. (Sources for all research are listed below.)

    Further research demonstrates that the fastest, clearest handwriters are neither the print-writers nor the cursive writers. The highest speed and highest legibility in handwriting are attained by those who join only some letters, not all of them – making only the simplest of joins, omitting the rest, and using print-like shapes for letters whose printed and cursive shapes disagree.

    Reading cursive still matters — but even children can be taught to read writing that they haven’t been taught to imitate. Reading cursive can be taught in just 30 to 60 minutes — even to five- or six-year-olds, once they read ordinary print. (In fact, now there’s even an iPad app to teach how: named “Read Cursive,” of course — .) So why not simply teach children to read cursive — along with teaching other vital skills, such as some handwriting style that’s actually typical of effective handwriters? (Teaching materials for such styles abound, especially outside the USA where writing of this kind is taught at least as often as the forms of cursive which are conventional here. Some examples, in several cases with student work also shown:,,,,, )

    Educated adults increasingly quit cursive. In 2012, handwriting teachers were surveyed at a conference hosted by Zaner-Bloser, a publisher of cursive textbooks. Only 37 percent wrote in cursive; another 8 percent printed. The majority — 55 percent — wrote a hybrid: some elements resembling print-writing, others resembling cursive. When even most handwriting teachers do not themselves use cursive, why glorify it — let alone seek a legislative mandate for it, as cursive’s supporters in he USA are seeking in state after state?

    Cursive’s cheerleaders sometimes allege that cursive makes you smarter, makes you stunningly graceful, adds brain cells, instills proper etiquette and patriotism, or confers other blessings no more prevalent among cursive users than elsewhere. Some claim research support, citing studies that consistently prove to have been misquoted or otherwise misrepresented by the claimant. (This is frequent in testimony given before state legislatures by the advocates of cursive, who are often state senators or representatives addressing their colleagues and/or their constituents in order to create support for a cursive mandate bill that the legislator has introduced.)

    So far, whenever a legislator or other devotee of cursive claims the support of research, one or more of the following things has become evident when others examine the claimed support:

    /1/ either the claim provides no traceable source,


    /2/ if a source is cited, it is misquoted or is incorrectly described (e.g., the study most cited in defense of cursive is an Indiana University research study which was not even about cursive. That study — “Neural Correlates of Handwriting” by Dr. Karin Harman-James — compares print-writing with keyboarding among kindergarteners. Since print-writing came out ahead, this study is perennially misrepresented by cursive’s defenders as a study “comparing print-writing with cursive”)


    /3/ the claimant _correctly_ quotes/cites a source which itself indulges in either /1/ or /2/.

    What about cursive signatures? In state and federal law, cursive signatures have no special legal validity over any other kind. (Hard to believe? Ask any attorney!)
    Questioned document examiners (these are specialists in the identification of signatures, the verification of documents, etc.) inform me that the least forgeable signatures are the plainest. Most cursive signatures are loose scrawls: the rest, if they follow the rules of cursive at all, are fairly complicated: these make a forger’s life easy.

  11. The lengths to which the advocates of cursive will go, in misrepresenting the research and otherwise exerting undue influence on legislators, are documented here:

    North Carolina links re the handwriting/politics mess there — a true hurly-burly!
    Read them in order, and let the story build …

  12. it’s very sad, because the handwriting is not only aesthetic, but exercises the brain, etc, talking about our personality

  13. So now we don’t need writing and mathematics as well? Have you all lost your bloody minds? Algebra and other math skills are fundamental skills required for many advanced jobs. Donwe want a society of complete idiots? I see some even advocating not teaching history as well. How would we know where we came from and how our society evolved? A computer can’t teach everything. take that away and your left with someone who’s as dumb as a post. How do you suppose people will read ancient texts if they can’t read handwriting? Suppose our fancy dandy computers are wiped out by a CME blast from the sun? You better learn how to write real quick.

    All children need fundamental skills. When they grow up, they decide how to live their own lives. By not teaching them basic skills, we do them a big disservice.


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    Cursive Handwriting Is Not Needed – Teach Skills That Are

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