Not too long ago, my 6th grade Monkey had to sign several contracts – various agreements between himself and sundry teachers and coaches.
“Do I have to write in cursive?” 11 year old Monkey asks.
“It’s probably a good idea,” I reply.
There is a pause. Silence during which time I assume he is signing his name on the assorted colored sheets of papers. But after a while, I glance over and notice he has written only the first three letters of his first name. He is looking off into space, clearly stuck.
“Mom,” he says eventually.
“Mmmmm?” I ask, pretending to be oblivious but definitely aware of his dramatic pause. But I’m thinking to myself, maybe boy has some deep moral, ethical or philosophical opposition to being asked to sign a particular contract. I’m thinking maybe he is hung up on one of the terms. Maybe something seems unreasonable to him, and he is not willing to just sign on the dotted line. For a moment, I’m actually proud. I figure he’s read the contracts and internalized the content, and now he has questions, reservations. He’s thinking critically about his commitments and if he can take on more responsibility. . .
“I can’t remember how to make a “v” in cursive,” Boy announces. “I kinda forgot how.”
My child is in 6th grade. He is a stellar student. How could it be that he has forgotten how to make his “v’s” in cursive? I wonder. But I am patient. The school year is just kicking off, and he has been away for three weeks at overnight camp, playing in the dirt with friends, enjoying the heat of summer, so maybe he needs a quick mini-lesson.
“Sure, honey,” I say and prepare to give him a quick tutorial in cursive – which morphs into an elongated lesson because, as it turns out, Boy doesn’t remember how to make a capital “J” (which, for the record, is the first letter in his last name); neither does he recall how to make a lower case “b” (also a letter in his last name!).
At this point, I hear the ocean in my ears.
This is never a good thing as it generally means a giant wave is rising up from the deepest, angriest depths of me, and it generally culminates in a boatload of phone calls.
“Buddy.” I ask Mr. Calm, Cool and I’m-Not–Worried-At-All-That-I Don’t-Know-My-Alphabet-In-Cursive, “How is it that you do not know all your cursive letters?”
My son proceeds to explain to me that, while cursive letters were taught in 3rd grade, his teachers didn’t really require that he (or any of his classmates) write in cursive.
“Writing in cursive was pretty much optional,” Boy tells me.
(Can you hear the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Antarctic and Indian Oceans rolling around inside my head?)
I couldn’t help myself. I made a few calls to a few principals (who shall remain nameless) in a few local public schools (which shall remain nameless) in a few nearby districts (which shall also remain nameless). Most principals agreed that there is just so much material to cover to prepare students for standardized tests, that many things have had to go. (Damn you, No Child Left Behind!) One administrator told me that decisions had been made (note the passive voice) to focus less on cursive writing but that students could select cursive as “a font option” when printing from their computers.
Cursive? As a font option?
Hold on folks. I’m going back for a nostalgia moment.
I remember a time when we kids couldn’t wait to move from our world of block letters to the world of cursive which was infinitely more adult. (And I’m not the only one who felt this way! Read Kathy English’s awesome essay on the death of cursive!) My babysitters used cursive to write notes to each other, but I could never read their words as they were like some crazy, secret code I couldn’t decipher no matter how hard I tried. But I knew that one day I would eventually be deemed mature enough to learn “The Code,” that I would figure out how to connect letters by one single, continuous stroke. I knew I would learn to create words in loopy cursive letters and that, ultimately, I would be able to read my grandmother’s shaky script, my mother’s slanted hand, as well as my teacher’s perfect penmanship.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, cursive was one’s special signature. It distinguished one individual from another. The most elite received special training, and possessing a “fair hand” was considered a desirable trait for both men and women.
By the 1960s, a standardized method for teaching penmanship called D’Nealian Script had been introduced into schools all over the United States, and handwriting became more homogenized. I didn’t know any of this, of course, as I sat in class in 3rd grade in the mid-1970s. All I knew was that during “cursive time,” each of us learned to write the same way: on thin, oatmeal-colored paper that consisted of a series of two straight continuous horizontal lines with one broken line between them. We students sat with our pencils poised “at the basement” of the line ready to “go all the way up to the attic” or to stop “at the first floor.”
I remember being totally geeked up about learning cursive, but apparently, not everyone was as psyched about switching to cursive as this twit. And while I might have considered learning cursive a bit like taking a second art class, apparently, it wasn’t that way for everyone. For some kids, learning cursive was really difficult. I remember “the lefties” really struggled as did a bunch of kids who probably would have been diagnosed with some kind of fine-motor skill problem if they were going through the ranks today. But they didn’t test kids for things like that back in the 1970s. Instead, our teachers encouraged us (or goaded us, or punished us) until we learned our letters. And while we weren’t necessarily good at it right away, with daily practice, our shaky letters improved.
I wrote all my papers in cursive until my senior year in high school in the mid-1980s when my father brought home an enormous TRS-80 around the same time teachers were setting up the first “computer lab” at my high school.
So much has changed in twenty-five years! With the advent of word-processing and PDA’s and all things electronic, cursive has completely fallen out of favor. In fact, it has almost gone the way of the dinosaur. Without a doubt, typing is infinitely faster and easier to read than handwritten papers – but, now that I hear that cursive is not being reinforced, I wonder, is something being lost in making cursive optional?
First, there is the obvious, esoteric stuff. When written properly, cursive is beautiful. Reading a handwritten note from a friend or lover is actually a completely different experience than reading the same content typed. Don’t believe me? Go back and look at some old photo album that belonged to somebody’s great grandmother. Look at the handwriting. You can actually feel something of the person in the handwriting. It is so much more intimate than reading something on a piece of paper that looks like it came from a school or the mortgage company. Have you ever received a thank-you note via email? Ewwwww. What about a thank-you via text? Double ewwwwww! There is nothing more lovely than holding a card in your hands on which someone took the time to write a nice note thanking you for something that you did for them. I swear, you can feel the gratitude in the loops.
But “pretty” probably isn’t a good enough reason to keep cursive in the curriculum, right?
Ever the pragmatist, my husband says cursive will likely eventually disappear along with so many other “quaint niceties” like handwritten thank-you notes. He says the convenience of email and text will drive us away from handwriting altogether and computerized voice recognition and grammar programs will continue to improve. Hubby points out his signature is barely legible. It is his mark. “Well,” I countered, “At least you have a mark. Soon an entire generation of kids will be making X’s as they won’t be able to put their John Hancock on anything.” Hubby says I’m being overly dramatic, that I should calm down.
But I can’t calm down when I feel desperate inside. I’m the girl who still writes in journals and keeps yellow pads of paper filled with notes – all in cursive. My lesson plans are drawn up in cursive. My first draft of anything is always done in long-hand. I wonder what this means: if people cannot decipher their grandparents’ letters, how can they ever read important documents like our nation’s Constitution, Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” or our Declaration of Independence?
They’ll read those documents in textbooks,” Hubby responds. “Or online. More likely, they won’t read them at all.”
(I am pretty sure Hubby was just trying to pick a fight there.)
I shudder because as an educator I know things: the focus on cursive around third grade serves a larger purpose; it reflects the developmental connection between writing and thinking. Children who excel in handwriting skills tend also to excel in other academic pursuits. Cursive writing assists in the development of fine motor skills and muscle control, and it’s an introduction to self-expression. To abandon handwriting lessons could potentially interfere with the learning process as a whole.
I wish I could make some powerful claim that indicates students who are unable to read and write in cursive are guaranteed to score at least 100 points lower on their SATs than their cohorts who read and write in cursive. That would probably catch someone’s attention.
Doesn’t that look impressive?
Alas, I don’t have anything like that.
Americans are tired. We have been told that the sky is falling, the glaciers melting; the earth quaking; that strangers want to abduct our children, that neither government nor lawyers nor doctors can be trusted; the rainforests are being destroyed; that – in fact – the entire cosmos is running out of time. So who can bother to get upset over my li’l ole lament over the loss of cursive handwriting?
I think I’ll go write up a nice long grocery list – in cursive.
Just because I can.
- Handwriting skills waning, mother laments (cbc.ca)
- Mourning the Death of Handwriting (time.com)
- “Everybody Else Is Crazy” (andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com)
Ah! The accursed cursive. My 11th graders wrote in a range of 16 to 80 letters per line. Since they have not taught penmanship since the 50’s I had them practice to achieve a consistency of 40 letters/spaces per line. The next task was to explain that there were 26 standard letters in the language because many had invented a dozen or so new letter shapes. The best anecdote was that I made my best AP US History student practice her penmanship because she could get 100 letters per line How do you read that? Shawnie visited me several years later as a college junior and thanked me for teaching her how to write a term paper in the form of a legal brief presenting arguments with supportive facts and references. But she pointed out that she did not write it. She TYPED it. We sure did have a good laugh about that. But I had the last laugh. The thank you note she gave me was written in cursive. 40 letters/spaces per line!
I realize that people type a lot these days, but what does one do if one does not have a keyboard? forget cursive: many of my students can’t take legible notes anymore!
We expect them to practice their piano, their soccer, their other activities: why wouldn’t we expect them to practice their cursive? Because it is hard? That’s not a good enough reason to dump it from the curriculum for me.
They still have to write – and cursive is generally faster than printing!
My friend, Todd, wrote a post about this a couple of months ago:
Fabulous! I get so FRUSTRATED with kids who continually ask “Does this have to be in cursive?” After a “handwriting 101” lesson one afternoon, because many in the upper elementary had forgotten how to form some letters, they are now cursed with writing everything in cursive writing. So – now I have to mind my p’s and q’s and make sure my own penmanship is neatly done!
Renee – I completely agree with you on this! Unfortunately, you are the only teacher I’ve met who cares. Abe’s penmanship is illegible (yes, he’s a lefty)…and every teacher who I’ve shared this concern with (including our friends) has told me that “handwriting really doesn’t matter” anymore. I even had a teacher offer to let him do all of his homework on a computer. Uh, no….how about working with him? We have also heard the “cursive is optional” story. What happens when they grow up and have to write a thank you note to a prospective employer?
Rachel: DON’T give in to the computer argument! I have students who now have IEP’s because they “can’t” write without a computer. They have all kinds of accommodations. I’m pretty sure that if those kids hung out with me for two weeks, I could get them to improve their handwriting. The problem is they have been using keyboards since 3rd grade so – guess what? – their handwriting looks like a 3rd grader’s. Big surprise! That’s when they stopped writing!
If you took up piano and stopped in 3rd grade, you probably couldn’t play a concerto. You would be able to play the songs you learned in 3rd grade.
Believe me, I have plans.
Like I’m thinking about how to get involved in education reform.
New York State’s “No Child Left Behind” has left a lot behind.
And now I have seen K-12 and beyond!
I was disapointed when my daughter told me that cursive was optional. Luckily, she loves to write so it was not an option for her. Her younger sister is also practicing her cursive skills but not with the help of the school. I just think it’s sad. Sure it’s easy to hop on the computer or phone a shoot a quick email. But there is just something special about a hand written note in cursive.
I hope she keeps her interest in cursive. It is so much more efficient than printing. (People can write in cursive soooo much faster than print!)
And I’m with you, these days especially, there is nothing quite as wonderful as a handwritten card. Man, but they are few and far between!
My 6 year old daughter attends a “traditional academy” and they learn cursive in 2nd grade. It is required through sixth grade as their mode of writing. This year she can’t wait to write her name in cursive, asking if it looks right. I think it’s sad they don’t require it everywhere. Like you, I couldn’t wait to be “big enough” to write in cursive!
Sigh. Those were the days, my friend. 😉 Who knew we had it so good.
I am 26, I was never taught how to write cursive though a did get taught a little of how to link letters together. I have no problem reading cursive though it does take me a little longer than printing as I don’t do it very often. I still write and receive hand written notes, letters and cards though they are printed? ( I am used to calling non cursive hand writing printing but not sure if that’s what other countries call it too?) they are still as touching and personal even though the letters aren’t joined together. I can in fact sign my name which is in a form of cursive but over time has become into more of a squiggle and a line.
I personally don’t feel my life is any less rich for not having learnt cursive, but then again you can’t miss what you don’t know.
I have no problem with it being taught if there is a reason for it, preferable one other than nostalgia.
I think there are reasons. It is a much faster method for writing. And in college, not every teacher allows technology (as students tend to get on Facebook and play games), so students simply have to be able to take notes – quickly! Printing is sooooooo much slower that writing in cursive. I guess that is my only argument.
I think you are right about not missing what you don’t know.
I would like to see students everywhere learn more what they need to know that will make them less dependent on adults and more successful critical thinkers. I wish schools didn’t have to teach so much to these stooooopid standardized tests as it is things like grammar lessons and cursive, lunch time and recess that get lost and – believe it or not – they do have value.
I want to know what ever happened to the outline? They stopped teaching how to do an outline before my son went to school and he is 43. I had to teach him in high school as he never heard of it. I still use an outline if I’m writing reports, etc.
Outlines and grammar have been flushed down the toilet as well as cursive!
Many of my community college students did their first outlines with me this semester. I don’t get it. Outlining is one of the most important ways for a person to organize his or her thoughts.
It was a very difficult exercise for some of them, and they aren’t going to like me when I have them do it again for the next essay.
When did I become an old-fashioned teacher?
Renee – thanks for the nod 🙂 I read Todd’s Messy Desk, the link above, a good article.
I wish I had your ‘proof’ too – about the SAT scores!
Renee, you repeated four times in the comments that cursive is much faster than printing, however I do not think the data backs you up. From what I recall reading a few years ago, the difference in speed is only attributed to familiarity. Adults who had been printing their whole lives had just about the same writing speed as those in cursive. That’s what I’ve switched to and my writing is much more legible. Adult printing doesn’t look at all like kids’ printing either. Sorry, but I’m going to vote that your lament is mostly based on nostalgia.
Of course, you do need to be able to do one or the other – nothing but typing is still not practical.
Alas, you might be right. I just think that students need to be able to write. It shouldn’t be acceptable to say, “You can’t write, so here is a keyboard.” I had a room filled with people today who said they “couldn’t” write unless they had their laptops.
I thought they meant they were “unwilling” to write something twice. Nope, they said they simply couldn’t write well enough to compose in-class essays. This is a problem. And I think I need to give more in-class essays.
Renee I agree with you. Writing is very important. You can not take a computer with you everywhere and just sit down and print out a note where ever.
Though I do believe that cursive is faster. I get what he means about which ever you are more familiar with you will be faster at. But you will always be able to write faster if you don’t have to pick up your pen every single letter. The reason people can print faster then they can write in cursive is because they weren’t forced to learn cursive the way they were supposed to. If they had learned it and practiced it, then they would be faster at it.
I could go back and practice to my heart’s desire writing in print, but I will always write faster in cursive because my pen leaves the paper less often.
Though in the debate about cursive what I’ve always told my brother was that you AT LEAST have to be able to sign your name. Its the only thing he can do in cursive.
The thing I fear though, is that it is going to turn into one of those ‘marks.’ Those who know how to write cursive will score higher on test and have higher IQ’s (on average) because they will have been taught by people who cared that they learned something. Those that don’t will be left behind and sadly they will be our mainstream America.
I say this in so many comments and I’m going to say it again. When I worked at a gas station, my boss threw away applications if she couldn’t read the writing or if the applicant printed instead of signed his or her name.
I’ll add another vote for cursive. Printing can also become fast, but at speed it’s less comprehensible than cursive – I think.
I know some appalling writers – or scribes should I say to distinguish from authors? There’s one of them only he and I can read.
I know a certain someone whose writing is appalling in print and script. Are you trying to pick a fight with my husband? ‘Cuz he’ll cut you. 😉
My kids went to International Schools for their early elementary years. They schools were using both the USA and French National curriculums. All the students could write in cursive perfectly by 3rd grade. Many of these kids leave the International system around the 5th grade. When the boys then go to traditional American schools and write in cursive it is the other students that put a stop to it. The boys that write in cursive are called homophobic slurs for their writing skills. Apparently only girls are allowed!
Stooopid Americans. What do we know? 😉
I wish I could somehow link the increase in bullying to the loss of formal cursive penmanship. That would make headlines, wouldn’t it?
Know what I love most about this post? You took a neurotic moment and turned it into a history lesson. Now I know I’m not the only one who does that! (I mean neurotic in a nice way).
I’ve had plenty of things drive me crazy about modern education, but I’m no cursive guru. Actually, I’m one of those lefties with motor function issues 🙂 Cursive was too close to art for me I suppose, haven’t used it in a long time although I do have nice chalkboard writing these days, a real challenge for lefties.
I’m not surprised that in 3rd grade you were geeked about learning cursive. Yes it’s twitty as you say, but you knew who you were at least a little bit. Turns out you were in early career training. Loved this. Thanks.
I always felt terrible for the lefties. They never had proper desks, and they had to hold their arms up in such awkward positions. Not to mention, when we got to writing in pen, they always smeared their writing all over the page because they had to write a top freshly written ink.
I have a lefty teacher-friend who tells me that she writes on the board from the bottom up so she doesn’t smudge things.
And of course I was geeked up. I’m always geeked up. I’m a geek. Ask anyone. 😉
As a clerk at a convenience store, I can attest to the fact that folks can no longer write… they leave ‘their mark’ on their credit card receipts. It’s the older folks who have the beautiful handwriting, and still take time to properly write their names. The rest are reverting back to the Dark Ages!
Alas, Terri, those older folks do have such lovely writing, don’t they? Soon the newest technology will have us smearing our fingerprints or scanning our retinas, and no one will need to write at all. 😉 Somehow, everyone seems to believe this premise: if it involves technology, it’s got to be good. It’s all a bit too Orwellian for me. I imagine George is rolling in his grave about now.
I can’t stop thinking about this. It’s truly bugging me. I’ve decided to have writing time with my girls so that they keep it up and love to write. Of course, they think of it as an art project. In a way, I guess they’re right. A lost art.
Hey, if they enjoy it, then it will feel fun to them – and then it won’t be lost. Oh Obi Wan Kenobi. You (and your girls) are our only hope. 😉
As your blog addresses so well, mastering cursive develops small eye hand coordination, a skill necessary in everything from many blue collar jobs to fine artsher endeavor to be sneered at.
I loved learning cursive. I loved teaching it. Really, it is artistic. How does one apprecitate ancient scrolls & calligraphy in quite the same way unless you’ve tolled to master the Q or M? 🙂
My maternal grandfather and grandmother learned much Latin in high school, as that subject was required in the late 1890’s: required, not an elective! Latin was offered at my H.S., in the early 70’s, but not required. Latin certainly wasn’t even on the curriculum in my children’s high school school: a loss for understanding English, Italian, French and Spanish. (I took Spanish rather than Latin. I wish I’d been required to take Latin.)
I don’t really know, but imagine only certain private high schools & upper class district schools offer Latin as an elective presently. You’ve got me wondering if cursive will eventually go the same way!
I made you think? I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to. 😉
Seriously, cursive is already going the way of Latin and sentence diagramming and (gasp) grammar. Schools may not be very direct about it at this point, but it’s happening – at least in public schools in the United States.
ANNETTE: VOS VOTUM UT REDDO HIC. EGO TENEO LUSTUS QUAM VOS SENTIO. TAMEN VICIS MOS CONE UT ROMANORUM NOS SCEPTIUM ITERUM, MOLIOR AEDIFICIUM EDIFICIUM QUOD VIA QUOD LITTERAE. SI QUISQUAM CAUSA PERTURBO NOS REPERIO CAESAR ETIAM SUUS LEGIO.
Wow, that sounds like something out of Harry Potter. I guess you can’t miss what you never knew. 😦
Thank you for the link and the great post! Though, as I wrote, I no longer use “pure” cursive, the evolution (or devolution, as it may be) of handwriting continues to be a pet interest of mine. 🙂
I still try to put in a plug for penmanship. It took me so long to finally develop legible handwriting, that it saddens me to see how little it is taught or valued.
Future generations may only know of handwriting as an archaic craft. Well, I think we should teach the craft to anyone who still wants to learn.
I guess it will have to be studied as an archaic art form. Sigh. Maybe I can teach that.
I understand what you’re saying: BUT I think the problem is even deeper in the sense that students, and, in fact, people of all ages are writing less and less. It won’t be cursive that is taught as an ancient skill, it will be writing, full stop.
When was the last time most people wrote something other than to make a shopping list? or put a signature on a card or a cheque?
Sigh. I know. I just read about a school in Japan that is completely paperless. Writing in one’s own hand isn’t even possible in that classroom. Talk about disempowering people. Wowza. ANd you are right, most people don’t write very much these days – unless you are a teacher, and then you are writing all the time! 😉 Malcolm X taught himself to read and write in prison. Writing has always represented power, and being a good writer/communicator is a very important skill. Why do we want to systematically take away these skills from people? No wonder we continue to fall behind in the global economy.
But if enough people are interested in maintaining the truly written word: surely there must be hope? Some recent research showed that writing ‘longhand’ is better for the brain that typing (quel surprise?!!) and with ipad etc, using hand writing recognition, this may also be a help: I also read that in China they have a move towards re-teaching Chinese calligraphy!! I live in hope!!
Can you find me the link that says writing in long-hand is better? That is the missing link. 😉
P.S. I understand that as a teacher that writing is something you do all the time: I remember it well . . . . When I did my first degree the 12000 word thesis was written out in hand and then typed: you had one chance to proof read it, and then it was printed. Yes, today’s technology makes things easier, but it doesn’t mean people have to be lazy, does it? Shouldn’t it be a way of working more efficiently and getting better/more results in the same space of time?
I used to get very annoyed when degree level students thought that typing a word into Google and printing off 17 A4 sheets constituted research!!!!
This is the link. http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB10001424052748704631504575531932754922518-lMyQjAxMTAwMDAwNDEwNDQyWj.html
I’ve enjoyed your writing. The one thing that has kind of made me uncomfortable, is this comments which include the notion of ‘we (the US) are falling behind’. The concern is based on nationalistic competition. This is a universal (well, global, at least . . ) problem, and competition, (e.g. in the UK between ratings of different schools) is without doubt one of the causes: it’s the difference between training and education: children can be trained to pass exams, but that is NOTHING to do with education. It is a measure BUT only of ability to achieve on the given scale. High exam grades mean you’re good at doing exams.
Ah well, enough for now: time for dinner and some junk TV . . . . .
I can give you anecdotal information from my own experience (and snippets from conversations with numerous high school teachers and college professors) that foreign students have far better basic grammar skills than our American born students for whom English is their native language. International students come in with a desire to learn. American students are typically less motivated. International students understand parts of speech and the basic components of a sentence. They understand subject and verb agreement. They understand how independent and dependent clauses work together. American students: not so much. It’s really distressing how far back I have to go to try to help Into Comp students prepared for upper level work.
For me, my concern is less a “nationalistic” one than a practical one. Our economy is lousy and in this global economy, where only the best of the best obtain well-paying jobs with benefits, I am going to have to depend on this up-and-coming generation to support me in my old age as they will be our nation’s workforce for the next fifty years. And guess what? Many are functionally illiterate and (currently) not employable. They are virtually always plugged into mp3 players, Facebook, video games and texting: none of which help to develop critical thinking skills (not to mention written or verbal communication skills) which are so necessary in an interdependent global economy.
I agree with you that if a person is teaching to a particular test, that shows nothing except that students have become adept little test takers; however, that is what we are doing in the US right now. Public schools don’t get their money unless kids pass those stooopid standardized tests. That keeps teachers enslaved to that curriculum.
What if parents decided not to send children to school on standardized test days? Wouldn’t that be a statement? As for me, I’ve found that solid writers write solidly. Over and over again. That is what I try to focus on. But I am finding that students are coming in with such poor skills, it is getting harder to get them to a place of basic competency.
It appears many English majors come out of college with sub standard grammar skills. They’ve taken lit courses and usually almost exclusively gender and ethnic stuff so have no background for 11th grade American Lit. or 12th grade English Lit. Especially deadly for AP because they get little or no background on those specific subjects from their teachers. I can’t give stats for Miami language inhibitors by population pools but this is an 85% minority district with over 400,000 students.(Miami) There is no way to teach to the test because they are not knowledge oriented. We teach the skills to take what ever the unknown particulars maybe so you pre-test many times to re-mediate. In the Florida test, for example, the reading is presented and students exhibit skills based on that text. My 11th graders came to me 3 to 5 years below grade reading level. Maybe 10% at grade level.
Then there is the dope, the broken homes, the assaults and the not too rare drive-by shootings. Tuesday night, two women and a baby were shot 8 blocks from where I live. Yes, “….harder to get them to a place of basic competency.” A level of functional survival was an accomplishment when I was in the classroom.
Professor Jacobson, I found your reactions toward the status of cursive writing in today’s English rather humorous. The great privilege of learning how to write in cursive was given to me while I was in elementary school. In between seventh grade and the time that I graduated from high school, I attended Lake Ontario Baptist Academy (L.O.B.A.), where all of my work was required to be in cursive. L.O.B.A. students are initially introduced to cursive writing while they are in kindergarten, and in second grade, all work is required to be in cursive. Although I am left-handed, I had no trouble learning how to write in cursive. Today, I write faster and neater in cursive than when I write in print. Since cursive is showing signs of possible extinction, I feel honored to be among the small percentage of students who use it in their writing. This past Monday, November 29, 2010, I was in a physics lab, when I let a fellow student copy one of my answers. She immediately noticed that my hand-writing is in cursive, and she seemed surprised. I informed her that I have been writing in cursive since seventh grade, and I learned to love it. When I write things by hand, cursive is the “only font option.”
And this is why I love you. Honestly, students who have mastered their cursive skills DO take pride in them. No one can ever take away your ability to write in cursive. (Well, I mean, unless someone cuts off your left-hand or something…) Consider yourself a dinosaur as we are definitely a dying breed. Sounds likes the folks at L.O.B.A. were doing something right! Write on! 😉
I must say I have the complete opposite attitude toward cursive being used. The one thing I remember most about fourth grade is that I struggled big time with learning cursive. I recall several factors contributing to this issue. First off, my handwriting was terrible to begin with (just like most guys). Learning how to write in a completely different way that young in my life was not helping me to improve my handwriting. Second, I was a lefty. As you mentioned, this made it more difficult for me to grasp the concept, but I have no idea why. Maybe it was the tilting of the paper or attempting to not smear what I had previously written. No matter what the reason was, I was the only kid in the class who had to take extra practice sheets home to work on my cursive. Even with this help, my handwriting did not improve at all. So because of my battle with cursive, my handwriting is just as bad as it was years ago. I am very happy that I have only been forced to use it one time that I can remember since I left elementary school.
Well, of course your cursive looks like a fourth grader’s scribble; that is when you stopped practicing your cursive. 😉 I’m guessing teachers just told you to start using word processing software, right?
I don’t disagree that writing cursive is more difficult for lefties but, by your reasoning, everything that is difficult should be eliminated from the curriculum. Sigh. What am I fighting for? I feel quite confident that cursive will likely be eliminated from most school curricula within the next five years.