Should Students Still Be Taught Cursive Writing?

Karen Green discusses the importance of putting pen to paper, even in a digital world

Photography by spiritinme via Flickr (CC)

According to my husband’s National Geographic magazine—and probably most schoolchildren—cursive writing is going the way of the Dodo.

In the blurb I read, it stated that cursive writing is not only not being taught to recent generations of students, but also that teachers do not even feel adequately prepared to teach cursive writing anymore. Apparently, it is a 19th century skill in a 21st century world.

I weep.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not a total Luddite and I don’t expect students to forgo the awesome convenience and practicality that is a computer keyboard. It’s just that, in matters of grammar and writing, I am a bit of a purist. I like things like the Oxford comma and the ability to spell correctly without spellcheck. I like proper punctuation and personal correspondence, and I think that there is beauty in a handwritten note. Handwritten—as in, the pen swoops and dips and for better or for worse, personifies the author. Handwriting analysis is fascinating. Font analysis is really not necessary, unless one chooses to write in Comic Sans.

Of course, I am forced to wonder if learning cursive writing in a time when almost all non-electronic communication is disappearing is a waste of time and resources, but there were lots of things I had to learn in school that never became a well-trod part of my daily life. I’m still better for knowing those things.

And I think kids—people—are better for knowing how to write. I don’t want cursive writing to be relegated to the signature at the bottom of the page. I hate to think of cursive writing as a pair of conservative, ultimately uncomfortable shoes, brought out only for the odd, stifling afternoon in church. To me, cursive writing is a pair of comfy sandals that have been worn in until they are perfect, and everybody recognizes them and knows that they’re yours. And they go with everything.

Truthfully, my days of writing long-hand in a notebook are gone, but when I need it, cursive writing is there. Writing end-of-year notes to my children’s teachers in all-cap block letters just doesn’t seem like it would have relayed the same appreciation and thoughtfulness that my handwritten (yes, cursive) notes did.

And I cannot imagine a love letter ever not being written in cursive. I want my girls to receive one of those letters one day, and I want her to put that letter in a box under her bed and eventually show it to her own children, who will hopefully still know how to read it. Because there’s something to be said for putting a little bit of effort into communicating, and it’s hard to store a text message in a box under the bed.

What do you think? Should students still learn cursive writing?

Karen Green recently traded life in the biggest city in Canada for life in the biggest cornfield in Canada. Freed from her full-time job as a writer and editor, Karen now spends her time…writing and editing. And frolicking in the leaves with her two small girls. Karen is a speaker, the founder of Mom The Vote and the author of the blog, The Kids Are Alright, where she has been writing about the humorous and poignant moments of family life since 2005. She is thrilled to be a part of canadianfamily.ca.

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