Should Cursive Be Saved?

February 4th, 2010 by Kathy McManus

Cursive handwriting is disappearing from schools. Do we have a responsibility to save it?

Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project

Consider the case of cursive — the looping letters of flowing script also known as handwriting — disappearing from schools, lost from love letters, and now relegated most often simply to signatures.

Thanks to computers, email, texting, and tweeting, the writing’s been on the wall for cursive for years. According to Kentucky’s Lexington Herald Leader, a local high school teacher who recently tried to reinvigorate it by awarding fountain pens to students said, “Some of them didn’t know what a fountain pen was.”

Supporters of cursive say there is a societal responsibility to keep it alive, and that much more than penmanship is at stake. It’s “a gift” said one university professor, a lifelong skill, the demise of which creates cultural deficits, like an inability to read historical documents. Without learning handwriting — with its slower, contemplative pace — children’s brains will “develop in a different way that no one has really thought through,” said a neuroplasticity expert.

But others say there is zero need to save a communication form which fails to prepare students for a practical future. “Do people need to be able to write? Of course,” said one online commenter, who continued, “Is cursive the best method? Probably not, given how few people use it on a daily basis.” “Teach your kid to type accurately and quickly,” one insisted, while another suggested, “Kids should be taught how to print, because it’s all they’ll ever need if they find themselves without a cell phone to text on, or a keyboard to type with.” And then there was this: “I think HELP is easier to read from the air in big printed block letters!”

Tell us what you think: Does we have a responsibility to save cursive? If so, why?