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46 Replies Latest reply: Feb 22, 2012 5:37 PM by Lynne Hoffman RSS

Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?

Lynne Hoffman Apprentice
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Is cursive writing and good penmanship a lost art? 

 

So many of our historical documents such as The Declaration of Independence were handwritten by our forefathers, who prided themselves in the art of good penmanship. 

 

The Common Core State Standards for English omit cursive handwriting from the required curriculum.  Now that it's not mandatory, schools around the country are debating whether or not to spend valuable teaching resources on penmanship.

 

Take a look at an article--COMMUNITY COMMENT: Eliminating cursive writing from schools will have negative effects--written by Joyce Preest, Special to the Evansville Courier & Press in Indiana, which talks about a decision made by the Indiana State Department of Education for the 2011-2012 school year.  In Indiana, public schools are no longer required to teach cursive writing.

 

What do you think about this change in education?  Are students in your school still being taught cursive writing?

 

Lynne

  • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
    leslie_atc New User
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    My daughter is in the 6th grade and has not had one lesson at school in cursive handwriting.  She has dysgraphia and dyslexia and I truly believe that she would benefit from cursive handwriting.  this is why I am teaching cursive handwriting at home.  I think the cursive handwriting will be easier for her with her learning disability.

    • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
      Kate Gladstone New User
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      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 on request— 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.)

       

      For what it's worth: I'm an adult with dyslexia and dysgraphia who wasn't diagnosed as a child, but who later self-remediated and founded a handwriting improvement firm. Some of the strongest disadvantages I experienced with cursive (and have seen others with my conditions experiencing) were, and are, the following (I am listing only those three that are most easily described: ask me if you want to know about the others)

       

      /1/ Cursive made it much harder — nearly impossible — to tell where one word (or even one letter) ended and the next began: to calculate exactly what was "letter" and what was "join." Looking at cursive, even very clear "teacher-model" style,  was (and to some extent still is) like trying to understand the words of someone who is delivering a long speech in a low monotome and who can't be bothered to actually open the mouth or move the lips or tongue very much while s/he is doing it ... as if the language had been melted.

       

      /2/ Cursive letters change their starting-points and their shapes whenever they come after certain other cursive letters (b, o, v, w) This requires learning two cursive forms for every lower-case letter (consider how different the cursive "s" looks in "past" and "post") and then always calculating where to use one vs. the other

       

      /3/ There was no *evident* relationship between cursive letter-shapes and other letter-shapes: creating a great burden on rote memory. We weren't shown any of the vey real but not-immediately-evident relationships which could have made it easy (as opposed to "brute rote") to learn and remember which letter was which. (In fact, one very gifted classmates was publicly ridiculed and otherwise punished for even asking if there was any remote ancestral relation somewhere between the letter-shapes of the two systems. He was then ridiculed and punished again for finding an encyclopedia article that confirmed that there actually is. Another two students — both were also gifted: one additionally had a disability — were punished for pointing out that their teacher didn't usually "cursivize" all the letters in her own handwriting, and that she was documentably faster and more accurate when she left some of the letters "print-looking" and skipped a few joins.)

      For visuals (that some students and their teachers find giving a useful perspective on the handwriting issues), see my YouTube video at Handwriting Repair <Handwriting Repair <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdCB6R1xI5I>>

       

      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

      • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
        pbonus New User
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        I think we can get bogged down with the infamous words "research says." What reasearch? Where was it published? How was the study conducted? Were there special needs students involved in the research?

         

        While we might be able to find evidence that certain approaches might not have universal impact on our children and students I can challenge and ask what method does? What Leslie is describing is an approach that she is using that seems to benefit her daughter. If there is benefit to a therapy how can we possibly say that it is wrong, even if it goes against research.

         

        My simple question, for which I do not have a thought out opinion, is what happens to signatures if we do not teach cursive in the schools? While there might not be any special legality to a cursive signature I believe it works like grammer, those who know it will separate themselves from those that don't and potentially communicate on a more educated level.

    • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
      tcook202 New User
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      My son also does better with cursive than printing

  • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
    7paulette New User
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    Many tasks a teacher must learn in educating a student and pass on what they don't know how to do but what they will learn to do, all must learn incursive.

     

    Teach the students to learn how to write , it is important and students must have hand out paperwork to the students and understand that the teacher will show them the rest of the way. If a child is dealt with, worked with, they will learn how to do cursive writing, practice makes perfect and it reveals how child have picked it up in cursive writing. When a child is reminded over and over again what to do then it becomes knowledge to them. It is a teacher's job to make sure that students learn and when they are in the class let them show you that the student has mastered the cursive writing and that how much they feel comfortable about it. They should advertise to the students that they have learned and to reveal to the class that what they learned and express to the class the way they feel and how they came to write in cursive. They must make sure that all the tools in learning was helpful and that the cursive paper must be in highlighted color.  I would ask the students to tell the rest of the class their difficult moments and what was their strength.  I know I will hear that some of them wanted to give up, but they did it and tell me how grateful they are with knowing writing in cursive.  Most people are afraid to try something but a start must start some where and then suddenly the fears go away then accept they can do it.

     

    Learning is a strategy but every task starts with learning and proven what they thought couldn't be done, but excelled.

  • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
    tcook202 New User
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    I think eliminating cursive is a mistake. Why are we trying to narrow the understanding of our students, instead of giving them all the tools that we can?

    • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
      Kate Gladstone New User
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      Re:

      "Why are we trying to narrow the understanding of our students, instead of giving them all the tools that we can?"

       

      The same argument was used about 600 years ago when some  teachers started "to narrow the understanding" by teaching basic arithmetic using the figures 0 through 9 rather than sticking to those time-hallowed tools, the Roman numerals. Do you believe that we lost something important by setting aside the rules for division of MMMMDDCCCLXXVIII by MXLIX?

      • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
        sminigh New User
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        I like how you think. I think that students want to learn cursive though, but when it is required by the standards, then some use it as a reason to spend more time on it than on other teaching. I used to teach cursive at the end of the day during dismissal and the students would do it as homework. It was something the parents could help with. It was successful in that sense.

  • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
    kreynolds12 New User
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    The Massachusetts ELA Standards have always included cursive.  While examining the Common Core Standards this summer, I noticed that cursive was left out. 

    in my experience most third graders are excited about learning cursive.  It is also my experience that they learn it with varying degrees of success.  my district uses Handwriting Without Tears which was developed by occuptional therapists to help those children that "can't learn traditional (Palmer Method Type) cursive". By the end of the year, my goal is to have all children in my class be able to read cursive, and to write their own version of "connected writing" that can be read by others.

    I think it is important for all children to develop a quick note taking writing style, that can be read by others.  Cursive writing facilitates this.

    • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
      Kate Gladstone New User
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      For what it's worth, as a handwriting remediation/instruction consultant I've worked with a lot of kids/teens (and some adults) who can't manage "Handwriting without Tears."

      • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
        katherine.collmer@verizon.net New User
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        Kate, so true.  I feel that handwriting is a personal style and that as long as a child learns the basic principles (on the line, spacing, correct formation) and that what he writes is legible, then it doesn't matter which program he follows. 

        • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
          Kate Gladstone New User
          Currently Being Moderated

          You and many people here have mentioned the important fact that students typically alter the style of whatever handwriting(s) they ee taught. Of course, many of these alterations make things worse (otherwise, there would be no illegible handwriting) — but certain common alterations of style actually make things better for the writer and the reader — these are alterations that tend to be made by most of the more fluent and legible handwriters in any group of children, teens, or adults. Here I'll list some of the most significant helpful style-alterations that I've observed being made, because I wonder if  any of you have observed the same:


          /1/ If the taught style was vertical, the fastest/most legible writers tend to slant it somewhat (usually to just about 5 to 15 degrees rightward of vertical: this often looks vertical unless you actually sat down and measured it)


          /2/ If the taught style was slanted (most USA cursive model books and some USA manuscript model books have from 20-30 degrees slant), the fastest/most legible writers tend to reduce this slant somewhat (again, usually down to 5-15 degrees)


          /3/ If the taught style was one where the pen is lifted after every single stroke

               (as in the "circle-and-stick" version of print-writing, where an "a"is done by first drawing a circle, then picking up the pen and drawing a short line),

               the fastest/most legible writers tend to eliminate those internal pen-lifts: so the only time they lift the pen inside a letter is if the letter has a dot or a crossbar. As a result, a lot of their lower-case letters (such as "a") will be smoother more flowing than the "pure" circle-and-stick printing they may be allegedly trying to do


          /4/ If the taught style is one where some/most/all of the letters get loops or other shape-changes when they're joined (what's generally called a "cursive" style in the USA: note that "cursive" means different things in differeent countries),

              the fastest/most legible writers tend to not bother with some or all of those shape-changes: especially for capitals (which have the most shape-changes in most USA curricula for handwriting). So these are the people who have print-style capitals and quote likely also have print-style versions of at least some other letters, even if the rest of their handwriting has a degree of joining.


          /5/ If the taught style was without joins (some form of "printing" or "manuscript" as it's often called), the fastest/most legible writers tend to unobtrusively join a few letters where it is easy and legible to do so: for instance, in combinations like "at" or "oi." (Another common thing they tend to do is having the crossbar of the "t" become a join into the next letter, in combinations like "ti" or "to" or "th.")


          /6/ If the taught style was 100% joined, the fastest/most legible writers tend to unobtrusively leave out a few of the joins: the ones they tend to leave out are the ones that involve a series of curves. (For example, they tend to lift the pen when they're moving between the letters in a combination like "sc" or "pa" or "gh" — but they tend to join combinations where the joins are less time-consuming, such as "at" or "oi.") Another common thing they tend to do is to dot/cross the letters "t/i/j/x" as soon as they write them, instead of the conventional proedire where first you go all the way to the end of the word and then you travel back to add in the missing pieces. (So in a word like "tomato," for instance, they'll pick up the pen to cross the "t": and then that crossbar is the join into the "o"). Generally, these writers do tend to use the crossbar of the "t" as its join into the next letter _if_ they are joining into the next letter (which they don't always, as stated above).

  • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
    virginiaitrt New User
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    I think cursive should still be taught, and it's a shame that students have no idea how to write in cursive.  I was just at a testing center, where the test-ee had to copy, in cursive, a paragraph then add their signature.  Most of the college students had no idea how to do this, the instructor told them to just try and loop the letters together.  I couldn't believe it at first, but now, with all tests being online, the skills students need are typing skills, not writing skills.  I think it is sad, but I don't know how to reverse it.  Cursive seems to be a lost art.  It seems that cursive writing will become like calligraphy, just a hobby, and I'm really sad to see it go.  If anyone has any ideas on how to argue for cursive writing in schools, I'd like to have some suggestions.  Thanks! 

  • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
    Lynne Hoffman Apprentice
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    As I read the posts in this discussion, I am encouraged to see that many of you still think cursive writing is important.  Having been an English teacher for more than 30 years, I agree that cursive writing continues to have a place in education. 

     

    I don't believe that joining printed letters together takes the place of cursive writing.  I read on a check writing site, that "while writing your check in cursive is optional, signing your name in cursive is mandatory."  So obviously, the banking world still sees the recognizes the importance of cursive writing.


    Read more:  How to Write a Check in Cursive | eHow.com

     

    Lynne

  • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
    magpie63 New User
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    Perhaps schools in U S should teach cursive instead of printing, as they do in many countries in Europe. According to some studies, fewer students have reversals and some other dyslexic problems if taught cursive first and then printing after learning cursive.  Just an idea...

  • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
    teacher333 New User
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    Attended a webinar presented by Handwriting Without Tears this week, and one comment they made was so true - writing with pencil and paper is still the main way that our children complete schoolwork!  Computers are not always available, not always operational, but pencil and paper is always present somewhere!  Check out their web site and the recorded webinar, there was a lot of useful information there.

  • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
    edmeemyrick New User
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    Thank you for your post, I will pass along the website for sure.

    I am a first grade teacher and I know our phonics program has very detailed printing lessons in it. I also have two older ( highschool, colloge age) daughters and one was given handwriting instruction and the other was not. The younger one was never given any and a teacher specifically told me that they don't take the time to do it because of all the content standards they need to hit before the end of the year ( no time). She said the world was turning to technology and soon students wouldn't need cursive anyway. Well, the one that did not get the handwriting/cursive has terrible and messy handwriting. And amazingly, she still does need to use print or cursive in life and I see it all the time. We have not fully become the world of only using computers. It may happen, but she does still write a lot ( at school and out) and I wish she would have been given formal cursive printing lessons. We do both in life, so let's teach the students cursive.

  • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
    karensw New User
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    I most definitely taught cursive directly when I was in third garde.  We went letter-by-letter at a very slow, relaxed pace.  I modeled, the students followed.  Lower case, folllowed by upper case. Come Springtime, we created a practice book called "Thoughtful Sayings" where I would provide thought-provoking quotes about life and character.  The students would copy the quotes in their best cursive, and then offer a personal response.  The students displayed their "Thoughtful Sayings" practice book at Open House.  The parents LOVED it!

    I am now teaching 5th grade, and so wish I had the time to teach cursive.  So many of my students need it, but there are just not enough hours in the day.  Still, having responded to this post, I'm remembering how proud the students were to share their best cursive with their families.  Maybe I'll try to find a few minutes a week to repeat this practice with my 5th graders.  Something to think about...

  • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
    bsdesantis Novice
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    Part of me is glad there is no cursive- my handwriting is terrible and I struggled through elementary school trying to improve it.  Most of the students I work with today cannot read cursive (now I can read it- I just couldn't get my fingers to co-operate and I blamed my father (whose handwriting is horrible).  I have compensated and can now print well enough to write on the board!

    Barbara

    • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
      heidiundlin New User
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      Yes, I believe we , as educators still need to teach the importance of nice cursive writing. Cursive teaches the fine art of writing and many people still write in cursive more than they use a computer. For example, my fifth grade son was unable to read a birthday card I gave him last year because it was written in cursive. I took it upon my self to teach him at least the skill of reading in this writing form.

  • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
    jsora New User
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    I love this topic

    Before starting to write this I thought I was undecided but now cursive should NOT be taught

     

    When I was in school- we practiced cursive for at least 30 minutes a day.I remember when my teachers made me redo writting assignments because the bubble in my b did not reach the mid line (or something)

      I like being able to write- but my handwriting is not so neat anyway.

     

    The only time I write in cursive is with my signature and quick notes to people.

    I feel cursive is out dated- We are not scribes- we type- everything legal, business, school wise gets typed.

     

    Cursive at this point can be viewed as an extra subject/ a hobby...

  • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
    teacher333 New User
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    I had read an article recently that said the majority of school work being completed by students, in class and at home, is still being completed with paper and pencil, so it seems worth the time to instill some good writing style in the current generation.

  • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
    jamiewvh New User
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    In California the standard for grades 3 and 4 is:

     

    Penmanship
        Write legibly in cursive or joined italic

     

    There is more but this is the gist of it. I couldn't even find a penmanship standard above 4th!  I always taught cursive but did not grade it, per se.  I did point out students who had lovely cursive, but if the jointed italic was neat, legibility was good enough for me. 

  • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
    cmuller Novice
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    Hi Lynne,

     

    I was never really good at printing but write very legibly in cursive. I learned cursive in 3rd grade.  As a substitute teacher, I always point out when a student prints legibly. My printing has improved as I've become older but I still prefer cursive.

     

    I am in favor of teaching cursive writing and hope that the schools continue to teach it.

     

    Cmuller

  • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
    jwojcik New User
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    I almost always write in cursive and really appreciate cursive writing.  I teach third grade and tell my parents that although I would like to spend a lot of time teaching this skill it doesn't get the attention it requires in order for all of my third graders to become proficeient.  Therefore, I encourage my parents to work on it at home.  I touch on it in class and send it home for homework.  By the end of third grade most of my kids can read cursive and some are very good cursive writers, but not all.

  • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
    msmstg01 Novice
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    I think we should still teach it.  It is always good to have more "tools in the bag", right?

    • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
      Kate Gladstone New User
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      "More tools in the bag" is good when all the tools excellently serve their intended purpose. However, research shows that 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.

      • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
        katherine.collmer@verizon.net New User
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        Kate, I agree that as we mature with our handwriting, we develop our own style.  As adults, we find we write faster as our thoughts (and schedules) become more busy.  Hence we begin to combine printing and cursive, or we develop our own style of letters to meet our needs.  Nothing wrong with that.  But we did have the basics under our belt (tools in the bag, if you will) that allows us to write that fast, produce legible combinations of printing and cursive and to convey our message.  Being able to produce letters and words legibly is a product of more than just the final product of learning to write cursive.  Vision, sensory-motor skills, cognitive (especially visual memory) skills - they play a huge role.  if a child is having trouble with printing/cursive, and especially if he is having trouble with other subjects as well, then perhaps there are other areas to be looked at.

  • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
    klnester New User
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    I think we should still teach cursive writing.  If students do not know how to write in cursive they will not know how to read it.  Many documents in history are in cursive.  If a student was to research the past they should be able to read what was written.  As is they struggle to understanding the material.

  • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
    bmoutet New User
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    I see cursive as a tool. We still need to write by hand and take notes with pen and paper, so if cursive allows kids to write more fluidly and quickly, they should be know how to do it. However, as a middle school language arts teacher, I tell my students that I want them to turn in work in whichever is neater and easier to read -- cursive or printing. In addition, when it comes to essays and writing assignments, I prefer them to type. Therefore, I don't think elementary teachers should spend great amounts of time on requiring students to "perfect" the art of cursive, but I do think it should be taught, so that students will have the option of writing in cursive when they need to write by hand.

    • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
      katherine.collmer@verizon.net New User
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      Beverly, great points!  If a child can print legibly, fast and fluidly, in order to take notes efficiently in class, produce legible homework assignments and convey his message effectively - then printing for all of his life would be ok.  If a child can learn cursive and it allows him keep up with his peers in junior and senior high school - even if the cursive isn't "perfect" (what in life is perfect anyway?), then I think it helps to carry him through to his adult working life.  I agree that it has nothing to do with intelligence..but it does present a more mature picture of oneself than "kindergarten type printing."  Also, the skills required to master handwriting are the same basic skills that aid in the mastery of reading.  If he can't do one....it could be he is also struggling with the other.  It would be good to check that out.  Beverly, you sound like a teacher my children could have used! 

  • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
    nwillson New User
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    Cursive handwriting is a lost art. So much time is spent teaching it and now, assignments in the primary grades are done on computers. When my son was in third grade he was required to type and format the front page of a newspaper, complete with articles. This is where education is heading. Testing will now take place mostly on computers. Time would be better spent learning keyboarding skills and preparing them for the future.

    • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
      Lynne Hoffman Apprentice
      Currently Being Moderated

      Hi Nancy,

       

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.  I agree that third grade is a good time to teach keyboarding.  So many schools offer a keyboarding course in middle school (grades 6-8), and by then, the students already have developed their own typing method which makes it difficult to break their bad habits.  I speak from experience because I taught 6th grade keyboarding for several years. 

       

      However, I wonder how students will write their signatures on legal documents if they don't know cursive writing.  As I understand, a printed name is not considered a legal signature.  There are times when students will be without computers and have to write.  Do you think we should still teach cursive writing, but perhaps put less emphasis on forming every letter perfectly?

       

      Just wondering--

       

      Lynne

  • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
    rmorooka New User
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    We don't want cursive writing to be a lost art.  It provides individuals the option to express themselves in creating their own style of writing.  Why are we asked to write a signature?  To provide an individualized way to identify ourselves.

  • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
    kstuckenberg New User
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    My daughter is in third grade and loves learning cursive.  The teacher does an excellent job at sprinkling in time for the art of cursive.  In the fall she took time each week to teach the letters explicitly, and now they keep a notebook with small assignments in their desk.  When they finish other assignments, cursive is a choice they have along with silent reading.  Also, during different worksop times they can pick cursive practice on the white board or in other ways.  It isn't alway s chosen by some of the students, but my daughter certainly loves it and it has added a lot to the joy of third grade.  She even chose to do the latest book report in cursive and that was hard work!

  • Re: Should schools continue to teach cursive writing?
    Lynne Hoffman Apprentice
    Currently Being Moderated

    I have enjoyed reading all the comments regarding the teaching of cursive writing in schools today.  Many of you have offered some excellent resources providing food for thought on this subject.  Thanks for sharing your opinions.

     

    Lynne

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