Monday, March 31, 2014

IS CURSIVE WRITING A THING OF THE PAST?



The absence of cursive writing being taught and used in schools is disheartening to me, so I wanted to share my thoughts and ask you for yours. I realized after reading responses on a Facebook status that many hadn't thought or asked about it, while others were as saddened as I am.  Children are asking their parents to read cursive writing  to them. If this doesn't move you, I don't know what will.

Some schools teach cursive in the first year or two of school, but the children and young people are not using it because of computers.  If you have young children in school, what have your experiences been?

I am learning copperplate
calligraphy now and have realized that some may never be able to read what I write. Many of this generation will not be able to read the Constitution!


This reminded me of a paper I wrote in college about literacy.  In my presentation, I held up a poster written in a foreign language, explaining to the class that those who could not read felt exactly as my classmates felt when they saw this writing.  This is what our children and grandchildren will feel when attempting to read the writing of past generations.

Lets take it a step further.  How are postal workers and others responsible for the delivery of mail and packages going to be able to read mail? It real, really, really bothers me.

I also have personal reasons for my concern over this.  I believe that a handwritten note means a lot to  many of us.  Are handwritten thank-you-notes and letters headed for a slow death?  We can't let this happen.

If you follow my blog you know that I love beautiful stationery, pens, wax, seals, and of course, cursive writing. I learned to write cursive in first grade, and papers written soon after were written with a fountain pen with blue ink. I can't imagine that this generation is not embracing the art of writing.


What are your thoughts on this?


For those of you interested and would like to help your children or grandchildren learn to write cursive, I believe you will find this LINK helpful.  You would be teaching your children a valuable skill.

 For blog posts on stationery and writing, follow the link here and here.

To advertise with Splendid Sass, visit here, or contact me at splendidsass@gmail.com





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23 comments :

Mary Smither said...

I agree with you! I'm so thankful that I learned cursive writing at a young age, I took calligraphy classes many years ago, and I always get elected to address wedding invitations or important documents for family and friends. I think if I had children or grandchildren, I would go ahead and teach them cursive writing on my own, because they are going to need it one day.

Great topic! Have a nice day!

lynn ross said...

I feel as you do. The Smithonian is asking our generation to transcribe historic diaries. If we don't, we'll loose them forever as they are all in cursive.

Karena Albert said...

Teresa I remember always being proud of my cursive writing. I really do hope it is not going in the direction of a lost art!

xoxo
Karena
The Arts by Karena

cindy said...

This is not only sad but maddening. And what are they teaching in its place? Don't answer that question. I get physically sick when I see what is inside the Common Core textbooks for K-6.

My Notting Hill said...

I was pleased to hear recently about a growing backlash against the removal of teaching cursive - some school systems are going back to teaching it. I'm with you on this!

Linda Merrill said...

Totally agree. My handwriting, which was never wonderful has gotten worse and worse due to typing and I do wish I could produce a beautiful hand-written letter. But seriously, how schools can think it's okay to drop the teaching of cursive is unbelievable. How will some students go on to do research using original sources that may be in cursive? Or will they look for a typed version which is subject to the typists editing? As I'm cleaning out my parent's house, I came across a love letter my Grandfather wrote to my Grandmother in 1918 on their wedding day. I can't imagine the next generation not being able to read a letter such as this.

I Dream Of said...

Hi Teresa, I just heard a story on this last week, and what struck me was what one of the people interviewed said: that his biggest concern wasn't so much about cursive, but writing at all. Printing is fine with me, and I struggled with cursive as a child but now do hand-painted calligraphy. The cursive taught when I was in school doesn't look at all like how my great grandmother wrote - the way we write evolves and that's okay. But if children aren't learning the nuts and bolts of how to compose a sentence, how to string together paragraph, an essay, then I think we really have a problem. Let's hope it doesn't come to that. I'd like to see people take the energy they have around the subject of cursive into channeling it into making sure that kids know how to write at all!

Great question to start out the week!

pretty pink tulips said...

Hi Teresa,
I feel like my sons got in just under the wire. My 9 yr old son actually PREFERS to write in cursive and loves to write out his name. It is really hard to believe that we are going to abandon this centuries old art and staple of living. Computers are fine, but nothing…absolutely nothing, will ever replace the handwriting of one you love. Let's keep it alive!!!!
xoxo Elizabeth

Leslie said...

I am a mother of four young children ages 4 to 10. I teach them at home. When my now 10 year old was just 4, he had a pretty severe stutter and was showing dyslexic tendencies in his reading and writing. I did some research to learn how to overcome the reading and writing things backwards. One of the things I learned through my research was to teach cursive. I did just that. I taught my four year old cursive. He has been reading and writing fluently since and the stutter even went away! My research showed a connection between cursive writing and neurological development.

I have since taught cursive first to all my other children, at four years of age. I have been amazed at how easy it has been. I require cursive for everything that they turn in to me. They pick up print and typing on their own. They have asked to be able to use print when they write notes to their friends because their friends can not read cursive. How sad!

My son also has a Sensory Processing Disorder for which we have been doing some occupational therapy. I have noticed that some of the finer motor movements which we have been working on in those therapies are very similar to the movements used for cursive writing! So, in my opinion, perhaps cursive is not necessary for every child, but it sure has helped my special needs child, and it certainly can't hurt anyone. I say keep it!

Leslie said...

I am a mother of four small children ages 4 through 10. I teach them all at home. When my 10 year old was 4, he had a pretty significant stutter and was showing dyslexic tendencies in his reading and writing. I did some research on how to help him over these hurdles. I read that it might help to teach him cursive, so I did, at age 4. He has been reading and writing fluently ever since, even though he still can't spell (must be genetic). My research suggested links between cursive writing and neurological development. His stutter even went away! Since then, I have taught my other three kids cursive first. They have picked up print and typing on their own. (I guess one day I will teach them proper keyboard techniques). I require cursive on any work that they turn in to me, but they use print on other things, like notes to friends, simply because their friends can't read cursive!

My ten year old has also been diagnosed with a Sensory Processing Disorder and some of the occupational therapies that have been suggested are very similar to cursive writing in their fine motor movements. Very interesting!

Maybe cursive isn't needed fro everyone, but it sure has helped my special needs child and I certainly don't think it could hurt. I have the freedom as a homeschooling mother to choose what I believe is important to spend my time teaching my kids, and I have deliberately chosen cursive. I understand that teachers in public schools are pressed for time and have pushed cursive aside because it just doesn't seem as relevant or important in today's society as it used to be, but I think we will be seeing the results of this decision in the not too distant future.

Karen said...

Hi Teresa,
I too was saddened to think my 3 year old granddaughter may never learn cursive. Still, I know that by the time I son's were in high school most everyone that wrote notes printed rather than use cursive. I love calligraphy and have taken classes on the art. I still love notes and note cards but I have seen that diminish among the young adults, even those that were brought up to write personal notes of thanks.
Maybe there will be a need for interpreters of cursive in the years to come.
xo,
Karen

Sunday Taylor said...

I so agree. Hand-written notes are important and should be used rather than emails or texts for a thank-you. In fact I am so interested in this topic that I am planning to take a calligraphy class soon. Also because my own handwriting has deteriorated! Thanks for discussing an important topic.

michele said...

i have mixed feelings. i don't want to see the handwritten note disappear yet i am the mother of a son with a fine motor skills delay who could barely print letters let alone learn cursive. the amount of shame and pressure that put on him is an unpleasant memory. being able to use a keyboard to express himself was a very welcomed relief. but long live the letter and snail mail!

michele

Katherine said...

Don't we all love to receive a hand written note, it's so much more personal. Spending so much time at a keyboard has diminished my handwriting. I've promised myself that I will send two handwritten love notes out to someone each week to keep my writing skill.
The computer corrects spelling/grammar for us and we think that is a good tool. But when you sit down to write on paper you must think about the word - spelling, punctuation, etc. I think one of the best ways to encourage my granddaughter to develop her writing is to send her love notes and request a reply.

You are so right about keeping the foundations to learning alive. Add counting back change and math times tables to the list.

KateGladstone said...

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 on request.)
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.

(My own experience and observations may be relevant, as I have several neurological disabilities affecting handwriting. Like many of the children, teens, and adults whom I eventually tutored — after self-re mediating for my own handwriting issues — I found that cursive harmed more people than it helped. It has been my clients' experience, and my own, that — consistently with the research — the best results in legibility and speed are attained with a semi-joined style using print-like formations rather than insisting on cursive. The style that my clients and I have been finding most helpful is known as italic handwriting, and can be seen, in several variants, here: http://www.BFHhandwriting.com, http://www.handwritingsuccess.com, http://www.briem.net, http://www.HandwritingThatWorks.com, http://www.italic-handwriting.org, http://www.studioarts.net/calligraphy/italic/hwlesson.html )

KateGladstone said...

Reading cursive, of course, still matters. However, even children can be taught to read writing that they are not taught to produce. 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 — http://appstore.com/readcursive .) So why not simply teach children to read cursive — along with teaching other vital skills, including some handwriting style that's actually typical of effective handwriters?

Educated adults increasingly quit cursive. In 2012, handwriting teachers across North America 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 mandate it?

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.

So far, whenever a 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,

or

/2/ if a source is cited, it is misquoted or is incorrectly described (e.g., an Indiana University research study comparing print-writing with keyboarding is perennially misrepresented by cursive's defenders as a study "comparing print-writing with cursive"),

or

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

What about signatures, then? Brace yourself: in the USA, Canada, and everywhere else I've been able to check, 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 all, are fairly complicated: these make a forger's life easy.
All writing, not just cursive, is individual — just as all writing involves fine motor skills. That is why, six months into the school year, any first-grade teacher can immediately identify (from print-writing on unsigned work) which student produced it.

Mandating cursive to preserve handwriting resembles mandating stovepipe hats and crinolines to preserve the art of tailoring.



Kate Gladstone
Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works
handwritingrepair@gmail.com • HandwritingThatWorks.com

Leslie Fish said...

Really, what we call "Cursive" (actually Palmer-Method Cursive) is JUST ONE of several forms of script writing. Other forms -- like Italic and Copperplate (in which our great state papers were written) -- are much clearer, easier to learn, quicker to teach, and keep their legibility long after the student leaves school. Cursive, on the other hand, has a nasty history of degenerating into that illegible scribble for which doctors are so notorious (but unfortunately not alone), which has caused thousands of deaths from "medical error", as any nurse or pharmacist can tell you. Yes, teach penmanship in the schools, but choose a better form than this! If only for all the lives it has cost us, Cursive deserves to die.

Renée Finberg said...

i had no idea that the school system is dropping cursive !!!!
how sad.
i can remember as a child trying hard to perfect my own handwriting....
develop a style of my own.

xx hope all is well.

Donna Vining said...

Teresa, I cannot agree with you more. There is nothing better than to receive or write a hand written note, and I do mine in cursive. I do hope that they continue to teach this gorgeous form of writing.

Donna

Donna Vining said...

Teresa, I cannot agree with you more. There is nothing better than to receive or write a hand written note, and I do mine in cursive. I do hope that they continue to teach this gorgeous form of writing.

Donna

Julie Taylor and Danni Greenwalt said...

Teresa...not having young children.. I hadn't even thought about it...but it would be nice to teach it also...boy..things are changing...I wounder how computers and texting is going to effect how the young communicate...they could be in the same room and be texting each other and never say a word!

Parsimonious Perfection said...

I love that you pose this question! I personally think it is imperative children learn cursive. I'd asked my children a while ago if they were being taught cursive writing, as sometimes they would ask me how to read it. Hopefully, it isn't completely removed; I am just as disgusted with spell-check. How are we to learn if everything is done for us?

Jacque said...

I think it's awful that cursive is no longer taught in school. My 14 yr old was taught but my 11 yr old not.
The 11 yr old has poor handwriting but when he tries cursive it looks great. So sad that technology has taken over so many things.

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