It seems today that everyone has an opinion about the usefulness (or lack thereof) of cursive writing. This is tragic, because there are so many reasons to learn cursive!
Our society, at least several government institutions, have pushed it to the back burner reasoning that there are other, more useful, skills our children could be learning.
Honestly, I never realized until recently that this was no longer being taught. But after doing a little bit of research it seems that cursive writing has been on it’s way out for a long time. Some areas of the country stopped requiring it to be taught in the 90’s.
If you do a little research yourself you will probably see all the different facts and points of view I found. They struck me as both shocking and baffling. It left me with more questions than answers and I was unable to find statistics on the actual percentage of people or age groups that no longer have any knowledge of cursive writing.
However, like most things, the loss of this skill seemed sad and mostly inconsequential, until I saw first hand how this affected those around me. First, I heard stories from my Sister-in-law, that doesn’t know how to read cursive. Like I mentioned above, her school stopped bothering to teach students cursive long ago. This was the first indication I had that cursive illiteracy was already a problem among adults!
A Real-World Reason for Cursive
Secondly I saw how this could be a major problem in the workplace. For a short period of time I worked in a pharmacy checking out customers and helping them behind the counter. This did require a fair amount of specialized training (due to the nature of the job) and I worked there with several other individuals.
One day another young girl and I were working the registers and helping customers. We were very busy, each with multiple customers in our lines. As I was helping one of my customers, the girl next to me tapped me on the shoulder and asked, “Can you read cursive?”
I was confused at first and answered that I could. She then told me the situation.
A customer was waiting in her line, an older gentleman, that apparently could not speak or perhaps could not speak well, and he had handed her a handwritten note….in cursive.
The note gave his information, the medication he wanted to pick up, and a question for the pharmacist. My co-worker, however, had no idea what it said. I really hope that my face didn’t fully show my shock because her face clearly showed a little bit of panic(and maybe embarrassment).
I don’t want this to seem like I was judging this girl.
At this point I really had no idea that cursive illiteracy was a problem. I am telling this story because it shows that even if cursive writing isn’t as relevant in today’s society, it is still needed! My co-worker was not some poor kid that fell through the cracks and never had a chance at a good education. She was an intelligent young woman, that had graduated high school, taken some college courses, and had went through the specialized pharmacy training.
To finish up this story, because I had to finish helping my customer, the gentleman who wrote the note had to wait til I was done. My co-worker and I switched lines and she finished up my customers while I helped hers. After talking with others in the department I found out that this gentleman was a regular, he got his medication from that pharmacy each month. And there were others that frequently would use notes as their form of communication.
I guess some would say that it wasn’t the end of the world. Perhaps in a few more years the cashiers will just hand the note back to him and say, “Please print this next time if you want help.” I know this seems crazy now, both from a customer service and a humanistic point of view, to degrade the only form of communication a person may be capable of using.
This is only one story, one reason to learn cursive.
That one reason, however, is enough for me to ensure that I will teach my child how to read and write cursive. That one reason is also why I started this journey.
The Search that Confirmed My Thoughts
After doing a Google search about cursive and penmanship I learned that part of the reason cursive evolved was its use as a status symbol.
One of my many unanswered questions is this: are top, private, and boarding schools still teaching cursive writing?
My guess would be yes, my guess is that they are giving their students the best education money can buy. My guess is that in ten or twenty years cursive will again be a sign of status, breeding, the highly educated, whatever you want to call it.(Just an opinion)
I started writing down a list of the top reasons to learn cursive. Some are more objective than others and many may argue that some of these reasons aren’t that important.
But I’m not doing this for them.
My guess is that if you have read this far you have already seen the need. Maybe you are one of the countless adults that were never taught but now see a reason to learn. Or maybe you’re just like me, a mom that wants her kids to have the best education, and that will include cursive.
29 Reasons to Learn Cursive (or Teach Cursive Handwriting to Your Children)
There are countless reasons to learn cursive. And many more situations in which we may need to know how to read cursive writing. Here are just a few:
1. Sign your signature: On many official papers you still have to sign and print your name. Also for security. A person’s signature in unique but a printed signature is easier to forge.
2. Improves children’s fine motor skills. Writing in cursive forces you to learn minute movements with your fingers while holding your hand still. Delicate movements serve many professions well such as surgeons and dentists.
3. Studies have shown that kids who learn cursive perform better on reading and spelling tests.
4. The ability to read historical documents such as the Declaration of Independance. Any researcher or academic can not do their job without the ability to read through old documents.
5. Cursive teaches us to be better writers. There is a direct correlation between the quality of handwriting and the quality of the written text.
6. Take notes faster. Your hand can flow with cursive writing and you are able to get your thoughts down on paper faster.
7. It uses more of your brain and leads to increased cognitive development.
8. Improved self-esteem. Not being able to read cursive may cause embarrassment or lack of self-confidence especially as an adult.
9. It can increase creativity. Many professional writers and novelists break out the old paper and pen rather than the computer to get the creative juices flowing.
10. It can help increase self-control.
11. Since cursive is an excellent cognitive exercise, it can help older adults keep their mind sharp.
12. Family mementos: Our children won’t be able to read Grandma’s handwritten recipes, old letters, love notes, or anything else without learning cursive. Most of our family’s old photos have names, dates, and places written on the back, in cursive.
13. Research: Forget about signing up for Ancestry.com because you will need to read cursive to look at old marraige, death and burial records. Even old U.S. Census records were handwritten in cursive.
14. Cursive is easier to learn for dyslexic students.
16. Communication with Individuals that have speech impairments. If either party is unfamiliar with sign language then a handwritten note will probably be used.
17. Cursive writing is a kissing cousin to calligraphy. What if you send out a beautiful wedding invitation for your child’s wedding and no one is able to read it?
18. Historically cursive writing was taught before printing. Our grandparents were taught “penmanship” or cursive in the first grade and studies have shown that waiting to teach children cursive til the third grade can make it harder on them.
19. It’s beautiful and deserves to be preserved.
20. Educational retention and memory. Students who hand wrote their notes scored better on tests than those who typed their notes.
21. Professionals are starting to take writing classes as well after being told at work that their handwriting is illegible. (Especially true in the medical profession.)
22. Teaching your child cursive can help calm them. Writing creates peace and can cut down on fidgeting.
23. Your kids could win a contest!
24. The next Steve Jobs? The Apple founder skipped class and went to study on fonts. Without his effort, we wouldn’t have as many scripts as we do today.
25. They could earn more money (study of motor skills/low income families)???????
26. They could read better (fine motor skills have been linked to reading)
27. Improve their SAT (reading/writing SAT scores improved with better writing skills)
28. Though our children in the US are receiving little or no cursive direction, children in Europe continue to receive rigorous handwriting instruction. http://www.history.com/news/a-brief-history-of-penmanship-on-national-handwriting-day
29. The benefits to brain development when learning cursive are similar to learning to play a musical instrument.
Like I said, there are so many more reasons to learn cursive writing. How about you? Have you taught (or learned) cursive writing? Why do you think it’s a good idea (or a bad one?
Let me know in the comments below.