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Cursive Writing Is a Fading Skill — Does It Matter?

kdawson posted about 5 years ago | from the something's-gained-and-something's-lost dept.

Communications 857

antdude sends along an AP piece on the decline of the teaching of cursive writing in schools — ramifications of which we've discussed a few times before. "The decline of cursive is happening as students are doing more and more work on computers, including writing. In 2011, the writing test of the National Assessment of Educational Progress will require 8th and 11th graders to compose on computers, with 4th graders following in 2019. ... Handwriting is increasingly something people do only when they need to make a note to themselves rather than communicate with others, [an educator] said. Students accustomed to using computers to write at home have a hard time seeing the relevance of hours of practicing cursive handwriting. 'I am not sure students have a sense of any reason why they should vest their time and effort in writing a message out manually when it can be sent electronically in seconds.'"

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How is this news? (1)

Gendo420 (656068) | about 5 years ago | (#29486835)

Especially on /.?

My child (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29486871)

I really hope they don't waster her time teaching her cursive. Printing is prettier. Cursive was originally taught only in public schools, since those kids went on to do secretarial type work.

Re:My child (3, Informative) (1195047) | about 5 years ago | (#29487001)

I know many people, from my great-grandfather's era up to mine, that were taught cursive handwriting in private schools. Have you got a source to substantiate your claim?

Hrrmm... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29486839)

Wasn't there a very similar story linked to about a month ago called the death of handwriting?

Re:Hrrmm... (2, Funny)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 5 years ago | (#29487133)

Yep, another Slashdupe.

doesnt matter to me (3, Interesting)

xSauronx (608805) | about 5 years ago | (#29486841)

I dont care to read it, and i hated writing with it. i could probably manage to use it, more or less, if i had to, but its been many, many years since i had to.

Re:doesnt matter to me (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29486931)

I dont care to read it, and i hated writing with it. i could probably manage to use it, more or less, if i had to, but its been many, many years since i had to.

I also don't care to read or write curseive writing. Yet, it shows up all the time on /. Just mention RIAA, patents, traffic shaping, Microsoft, etc. and you see all sorts of f-bombs and other forms of curseive writing in comment after comment. It makes me sad. I'm glad that you have gone for many years without resorting to such tired-out shock devices.

Font (5, Insightful)

rossdee (243626) | about 5 years ago | (#29486845)

You can use cursive writing on a computer, you just have to pick the right font.

Re:Font (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29487037)

Forget cursive - the whole world's been going to hell ever since they eliminated mandatory cuniform tablet-carving in the 30s. And don't get me started about the sad state of papyrus making in America's schools...

Re:Font (1)

TheBilgeRat (1629569) | about 5 years ago | (#29487069)

Don't forget the slide rule!

Re:Font (5, Funny)

stonedcat (80201) | about 5 years ago | (#29487139)

Ah yes the rule that dictates only one person on the slide at a time, this is definitely not to be forgoten.

Re:Font (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | about 5 years ago | (#29487183)

...only one person on the slide at a time, this is definitely not to be forgotten.

Ignored always, but never forgotten. If you forget you won't keep an eye out for the recess monitors.

Re:legal signature? or a computer generated sig.? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29487155)

And what font to you use when you are writing a check out in your checkbook?
And what font will you use when you sign legal documents? Make a bix "X"?

No, no matter what font, you still need a legal signature that is not computer generated?


EMP? Impending poverty? (-1)

DoninIN (115418) | about 5 years ago | (#29486853)

There might be some inherent value in knowing how to use the underlying skills that make up the essential underpinnings of literacy? Gee I don't know, I use a calculator to do all my math at work, why should I learn how to do long division?

Re:EMP? Impending poverty? (3, Insightful)

Planesdragon (210349) | about 5 years ago | (#29486875)

There might be some inherent value in knowing how to use the underlying skills that make up the essential underpinnings of literacy?

Cursive writing is no more a requirement to literacy than knowing how to operate a printing press.

Now, "any form of writing at all" is important. But curisive?

Gee I don't know, I use a calculator to do all my math at work, why should I learn how to do long division?

Short division should be good enough for you.

Re:EMP? Impending poverty? (3, Interesting)

iamhassi (659463) | about 5 years ago | (#29487059)

"Cursive writing is no more a requirement to literacy than knowing how to operate a printing press."

so what will signatures look like in 20-30 years? Printed out? "Print name" and "Sign here" will look identical?

Re:EMP? Impending poverty? (3, Insightful)

TheBilgeRat (1629569) | about 5 years ago | (#29487077)

Your signature will be your public key attached to your common access card issued by the state. Just scan and go!

Re:EMP? Impending poverty? (1)

psychicsword (1036852) | about 5 years ago | (#29487097)

The only time I ever use cursive is when I sign something and it looks like a squiggly mess. We could just teach kids to sign their name in cursive and be done with it after that.

Re:EMP? Impending poverty? (5, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 5 years ago | (#29487181)

A signature doesn't need to be anything readable, it just needs to be something you can duplicate yourself but is hard for others to duplicate. My signature is completely non-legible. But it looks pretty similar to other instances of my signature, and a handwriting expert could verify that, while pointing out how a forgery is different.

It doesn't matter if you're scrawling "Mickey Mouse", as long it's your signature.

And yes, the only thing we need to teach kids as far as cursive goes is their signature, however they want to write it (legible or not).

This is nothing new; you can go back centuries and look at historical peoples' signatures, and see that many of them are not very legible. You might make out the first character or so in each name, and the rest is just a scribble.

Re:EMP? Impending poverty? (1)

DaleSwanson (910098) | about 5 years ago | (#29487117)

I've seen people that used "print" to sign their names. It was different from the print name because it was much closer to a scribble. You don't need to use cursive for a signature. Mine started as cursive, but has evolved into a scribble that I usually do the same way.

Re:EMP? Impending poverty? (1)

Skreems (598317) | about 5 years ago | (#29487131)

Cursive as a magic agreement that somehow has weight over a printed name isn't really based on anything. Why would it matter if it just became printed? Anyway, there are plenty of people who do use something much more like printing than cursive already, and the world isn't falling apart.

Re:EMP? Impending poverty? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29487165)

20-30 years? I'm 24 and that's already the case for me, I gave up cursive the second they stopped trying to teach it to me.

Re:EMP? Impending poverty? (1)

pizzach (1011925) | about 5 years ago | (#29487123)

Cursive is written sufficiently different enough that learning to write it will help you to read it. Which also incidentally connects to how a lot of people learn by writing things down. Asian characters are similar. You may be able to read a number of them, but until you write them you don't notice the little things that help you differentiate them for when you learn more of them.

For signatures, I sense the day that cursive dies, biometrics will be what replaces it.

Re:EMP? Impending poverty? (1)

DoninIN (115418) | about 5 years ago | (#29487159)

Movable type printing is not a useless skill either, as far as I'm concerned. (Yeah I learned that in school come to think of it)

To properly understand the things you're doing now it's never a bad idea to learn how they were developed.

I have possibly the worst handwriting of anyone in my generation, but I still say it's a worthwhile endeavor to learn to achieve serviceable cursive handwriting. There are many situations in the cold hard real world that don't involve a post apocalyptic future where all electronics have been rendered useless by a massive EMP, that do warrant nice neat cursive handwriting. Say meetings at work? Say, writing a note for coworkers? A love letter? Your diary? Just the freaking idea that you should know how to write by hand? I find this sort of thing a fascinating testament to how fast attitudes change and apparently how old I'm getting, but on the other hand you do need to learn to write, also get off my lawn.

Re:EMP? Impending poverty? (2, Funny)

ZackSchil (560462) | about 5 years ago | (#29486881)

This is nonsense. Cursive writing is the essential underpinning of nothing more than fountain pens and hand fatigue.

Re:EMP? Impending poverty? (2, Insightful)

Narpak (961733) | about 5 years ago | (#29486949)

Agreed. I'd even go farther than that. While I do feel that handwriting with a pen or a pencil is something that should be a part of a general eduction; it's by no means inherently necessary for literacy. Understanding letters, words, sentences and grammar, does not require that you are able to pick up a pen and draw those symbols on a piece of paper. And the idea that a certain style of handwriting is somehow vitally important seems a very quaint notion.

Re:EMP? Impending poverty? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29487087)

Ahhh, fountain pens. Archaic, not because of keyboards, but because most people no longer have any idea what it is like to own and use a truly finely crafted machine; you know, something worth keeping. Something not from the 99 cent bin at Walmart. Computers are, almost by definition, certainly by manufacturer advertisement, disposable consumer crap.

I get your point, maybe even agree with it, but nobody is going to die clutching email in their hands. (Your point about hand fatigue is a non-starter. I get hand fatigue trying to touch type without looking. It's simply fatigue from movement to which you're not accustomed. Hardly confined to pens. But you knew that.)

Re:EMP? Impending poverty? (5, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | about 5 years ago | (#29486925)

Learning and practicing Cursive writing has as much to do with the underlying skills of literacy, as proper Abacus operation and extensive practice solving problems with roman numerals has to do with the underlying skills of mathematics.

Re:EMP? Impending poverty? (5, Informative)

cmdahler (1428601) | about 5 years ago | (#29486927)

Cursive writing does not "make up the essential underpinnings of literacy..." Cursive is simply a way of writing a block of text quickly with minimal pen lifts. It's completely irrelevant today.

Re:EMP? Impending poverty? (3, Insightful) (1195047) | about 5 years ago | (#29487141)

Have you seen this document recently? []

There's more to cursive than simply writing rapidly. Developing good handwriting skills takes practice and discipline, concepts I find grossly underrepresented in modern education.

Who cares (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29486855)

Cursive is archaic, like hieroglyphics. Let the scholars study them if they wish, and let civilization pass it by.

Illegible Cursive going away? Oh Noez! (5, Informative)

Nexx (75873) | about 5 years ago | (#29486859)

NYTimes recently had an article on penmanship. Cursive deserves to die -- it often results in illegible scrawl. I'd explain why, but the article [] does it so much better.

Re:Illegible Cursive going away? Oh Noez! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29486879)

Exactly. The only time I use cursive anymore is to sign my name on checks.

Agreed (2, Interesting)

dlenmn (145080) | about 5 years ago | (#29486943)

Slate recently had an article partially along similar lines (palmer vs italic cursive styles). It's also worth a read: []

Re:Illegible Cursive going away? Oh Noez! (1)

cratermoon (765155) | about 5 years ago | (#29487011)

Dubay & Getty are my heroes.

Re:Illegible Cursive going away? Oh Noez! (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | about 5 years ago | (#29487089)

Interesting. I taught myself to print (in school, I only learned block capitals before cursive was thrust upon me) and developed a similar hand to the italic they present. Except that my "a" and "y" look more like the Courier or Helvetica forms.

I never understood (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29486863)

why it was important.
I know I know you can "write faster" well I can't so I don't care.


That's why it's declining, and why it doesn't matter at the same time.

Does It Matter? (2, Insightful)

rsmith-mac (639075) | about 5 years ago | (#29486873)


De Rigeur - Niche, Same as Always (1)

4e617474 (945414) | about 5 years ago | (#29486877)

Cursive writing will persist as a specialty skill for those of a historical or artistic bent. My mother did the most beautiful calligraphy when I was growing up, and it was already fading fast with increasingly cheap typewriters. Some people are still learning it, to show off at the Renn Faire. People shoot bows and arrows, but not because it's a way to survive like it used to be.

No, it does not matter. (5, Insightful)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | about 5 years ago | (#29486891)

Cursive writing is no more a useful skill than illuminating manuscripts. Certainly, one should be able to write with a pen or pencil; but cursive letterforms are of dubious advantage with modern writing implements.

It has no advantage and some disadvantages (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 5 years ago | (#29487055)

Supposedly it is faster, however that doesn't matter since typing is by far faster still. Other than that, there are no advantages. Cursive is harder to read, which is who we don't use it as a standard font on computers. Computers these days could do a fine job of making actual cursive (properly joining the letters and all that) if we wanted but we don't. A good proportional block font is much easier to read, so that is what is used. Cursive isn't just a pain to write, it is a pain to read too.

We should be teaching kids to emulate computerized type in penmanship to the extent possible. Make your letters as clear as possible, not frilly. If speed is an issue because you've a lot of text to commit to paper, then get a computer and type it out. Because I don't care how fast your script is, I can type faster. Write for maximum legibility, not for some dead style.

Re:It has no advantage and some disadvantages (1)

rainmaestro (996549) | about 5 years ago | (#29487167)

I've heard that it is fast, but I have always found cursive to be slow. Over time, I've adopted a sort of bastardized script. Normal printed letters joined at the bottom (a la cursive). Faster than plain print, since I don't lift the pen very often, and far more legible than cursive.

I like your concept of simplifying the writing style. Calligraphy can be beautiful, but I hate seeing a thousand needless loops in someone's day-to-day writing.

As someone who can write cursive. (3, Interesting)

shellster_dude (1261444) | about 5 years ago | (#29486897)

I spent most of my youth writing in cursive, because it was supposedly faster. I finally figured out, that I could write tons faster without it. Then I learned how to type. Occasionally, I still break it out, but by and large, I won't miss its passing. Cursive's only real purpose, I think, is the highly stylized version: Calligraphy.

Good riddance (3, Insightful)

i-like-burritos (1532531) | about 5 years ago | (#29486899)

There's no purpose for it.
They should stop teaching cursive in schools, and start teaching typing instead.

I Learned It (1, Insightful)

Renraku (518261) | about 5 years ago | (#29486901)

I learned cursive in elementary school. It was standard practice to write all of your papers in cursive.

It was horrible.

It was very hard to read quickly. It was hard to write quickly. It didn't cooperate with pencils/pens.

It made me hate handwriting in all of its forms.

As soon as I got to the point where I could type papers and print them out, that's exactly what I started doing. The only words in cursive I've written since the 5th grade have been my first and last names.

All of that wasted teaching could have been used to better teach math (something US schools utterly fail at) or even teach a better grasp of writing. It wasn't until I got to late middle school were we given even a little leeway in the content of our papers.

cursive doesn't matter but handwriting does (2, Interesting)

timmarhy (659436) | about 5 years ago | (#29486907)

cursive is merely a style, it's changed many times over the years. as long as you can print, and lets face it lots of people's cursive has been unreadable for 50 years, that's fine.

Yes (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29486911)

As someone in the midst of grading 75 calculus 3 homeworks written out by hand, I have to say YES. Not necessarily cursive, per se, but writing by hand legibly tends to improve your grade.

cursive vs print ? (4, Interesting)

koxkoxkox (879667) | about 5 years ago | (#29486913)

"But cursive is favored by fewer college-bound students. In 2005, the SAT began including a written essay portion, and a 2007 report by the College Board found that about 15 percent of test-takers chose to write in cursive, while the others wrote in print. "

I don't really understand. There seem to be two kind of handwriting competing for the written part, but I have never seen that in classes. Writing in print is writing each letter like the printer does, without linking them ? How can you write an essay like that ? It must take ages ? In France we learn it and then quickly forget it to only write cursive.

Re:cursive vs print ? (5, Insightful)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | about 5 years ago | (#29486971)

Writing in print is writing each letter like the printer does, without linking them ? How can you write an essay like that ? It must take ages ?

Why would it take ages? I abandoned cursive writing as soon as I could, in seventh or eighth grade, since printing was faster. If nothing else, with printing one can write smaller letterforms more legibly, and smaller forms require less hand travel, thus making for faster writing.

And who composes an essay so fast that the limiting factor is the physical act of writing?

Re:cursive vs print ? (4, Insightful)

BZ (40346) | about 5 years ago | (#29487063)

> And who composes an essay so fast that the limiting factor is the physical act of writing?

Anyone reasonable writing the SAT essay portion, since time is so limited there and requirements on writing quality so low.

Same with AP history tests, in my experience.

Re:cursive vs print ? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29486981)

Because in france all you have to learn to print is "We Surrender" and "Please take this Gas to torch my car"

Cursive could be used as a captcha. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29486915)

If my computer can't read it, it sucks.

Cursive handwriting is the hieroglyphics of our age. Let it die. Please.

Will not die anytime soon. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29486923)

I don't think it's dying as much as people think. For one, sometimes you just have to write things down, and a computer is not always going to be the quickest way to do it (or even possible). Two, it's still taught in schools, and people still need to sign things.

Even still, who cares? I usually just print stuff out. Cursive isn't really that fast and printing is a lot easier on the eyes.

why not just print? (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 5 years ago | (#29486937)

Why not just print the letters, or as I do, a sort of fast/smear print, which gives you some of the advantages of high speed cursive, without all the stupid looping and formatting requirements?

Make diagrams, schematic, timelines, maps, ... (2, Interesting)

LionKimbro (200000) | about 5 years ago | (#29486939)

For the 21st century, I would replace cursive with diagrams, schematics, timelines, maps, hierarchies, document structuring, concept maps, graphs, and charts.

I would start students on simple systems that they understand well: Diagram how characters interact in their favorite stories, how the timeline works, the places in the stories, and so on.

With time, I would develop it into articulations of the conceptual structure of essays and movies. I would create more and more detailed maps as times went by. Near the end, I'd have students make complex presentations of scientific and technological objects that put enormous relevant detail into compact spaces (like in mechanical blueprints, software diagrams, scientific explanations, and so on.)

Traditionally we've taught outlines and charting, but I'd step that up way more.

It matters (1, Insightful)

Cornwallis (1188489) | about 5 years ago | (#29486951)

'I am not sure students have a sense of any reason why they should vest their time and effort in writing a message out manually when it can be sent electronically in seconds.'

Come see me when the electricity is gone once civilization tanks.

Pen to Paper (2, Interesting)

ndik (1186119) | about 5 years ago | (#29486955)

With such a technology dependent world, it's sometimes nice to write on paper and not on a keyboard.

Re:Pen to Paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29487079)

They are not talking about writing on paper vs typing, they are talking about the art of cursive writing vs print writing.

Science (2, Informative)

Lord Byron II (671689) | about 5 years ago | (#29486957)

Any equation is easier to write down by hand than by tex, MS Word equation editor, etc.

And you look like a total douche if you can't write an equation neatly enough that others can read it.

Of course, this isn't cursive specifically, but handwriting in general.

Re:Science (2, Insightful)

roboconnell (717706) | about 5 years ago | (#29487109)

I agree. Also - what's so wrong with getting a kid to focus on something difficult and master it? In this age of ADD, I wonder if the loss of practicing these skills has repercussions we don't fully understand. I think it belongs in a class of classic skills that develop (as a minimum) the ability to focus and hand-eye co-ordination.

Re:Science (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 5 years ago | (#29487121)

Absolutely. The worst part about math is having to transfer the stuff on paper into a computer for publication. That includes the "such that"s, "therefore"s, "we see that"s and "it is obviously that"s.

About time (1)

Kirby (19886) | about 5 years ago | (#29486963)

Good! Cursive is a skill for writing fast, not for writing legibly. I haven't used it since leaving school.

Print is easier to read in the circumstances where you can't use a computer, and those situations are rapidly decreasing. The vast majority of interaction and professional work is typed these days.

This is the counterpoint to the recent article asking if typing should be taught in schools - yes, in elementary, in the slot that cursive used to live in.

Cursive writing fading??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29486967)

Goddammit! Cursive writing is never gonna fuckin go away!

Ship's logs... (1)

tcopeland (32225) | about 5 years ago | (#29486977) least in the Coast Guard are all done in print in uppercase. So you get:


and all that sort of thing. Most folks' uppercase print letters seem look the same. At least they do after they're forced to rewrite a log for neatness :-)

Re:Ship's logs... (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about 5 years ago | (#29487105)

A lot of things are required in print anymore. They're starting to push in some areas of Canada that police notebooks be in all caps, simply to avoid confusion, and make sure that scumbag lawyers can't use the cursive as a means to say "well you miswrote this, so we're just going to go for a mistrial now..."

Penmenship matters (3, Insightful)

Monkeyboy4 (789832) | about 5 years ago | (#29486979)

It's clear that most of the people posting so far are code monkeys or some other key-whackers/

Call me a Luddite, but learning to write without a computer is as important as learning to add without a computer - that is, essential.

Also, I recall a conversation about touch interfaces where /.ers were saying it was a useless fad because the keyboard and mouse were the height of usability. Teach cursive, give kids touch enabled computers, and the physical keyboard will fade into oblivion.

Re:Penmenship matters (1)

John Hasler (414242) | about 5 years ago | (#29487029)

> ...the physical keyboard will fade into oblivion.

Followed closely by the "touch interface" once voice recognition becomes mature. Then illiteracy will reign supreme.

Re:Penmenship matters (4, Insightful)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 5 years ago | (#29487107)

No problem with learning to write, but cursive is not a useful skill as far as I can tell. Printing will get you through life just fine.

If you want a real writing skill that is of some use, learn shorthand.

As far as doing away with a keyboard in favor of handwriting recognition, this is silly. Typing is far faster and easier to implement across all sorts of devices. With handwriting recognition it is inevitable that you will suffer from varying implementations of the recognition program.

Oh no! (4, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | about 5 years ago | (#29486991)

Smoke signalling is a dead art. No one remembers the old smoke signals used by native american tribes - not even native americans! Should we worry?

It's called progress. Those grade school teachers who insist on continuing to preach arcane methods would probably find a more efficient use of their time if they taught their students to type right after teaching them basic writing skills. I don't know many people who can spout out cursive at over 80 words per minute.

Re:Oh no! (2, Interesting)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 5 years ago | (#29487137)

At least smoke signals were probably only used by people who understood how to use them properly, you can't say the same about cursive hand writing. That is why it is often banned from being used to sign your name on documents. People are expected to have good penmanship and frankly most people's cursive is atrocious.

This will surely bring about the end of Evil. (5, Funny)

dmomo (256005) | about 5 years ago | (#29486993)

With the knowledge of penmanship goes the ability to sign a pact with the Devil in one's own blood. I suppose a syringe and an empty ink cartridge would do the trick, but why bother? Whatever Life trouble you are trying to bypass with such a pact cannot seriously be as bad as the anxiety this will cause. Imagine the stress of not only owing your soul to Satan, but also to living your life in fear of litigation from Canon, Epson and the like for breaking the DMCA by refilling those cartridges.

No sir. I am glad to see the day of this cursed writing.

comic sans is my font (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29486997)

I installed the cursive font sometime around 2nd grade, but I haven't really used it much since then. Comic sans is what I currently use by default, and while font snobs may sneer, I think it works pretty well for legible handwriting.

Jesus, cut the cord already (3, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | about 5 years ago | (#29487005)

We learn two forms of writing and two forms of measurements. When are we going to stop living in the past and do away with these old customs? Next they'll have our students churning butter forging horseshoes.

Re:Jesus, cut the cord already (4, Interesting)

Techman83 (949264) | about 5 years ago | (#29487177)

Actually churning butter and forging horseshoes would have been pretty cool to learn and far more useful then learning cursive. Eg, Churning butter would have engaged the students and also taught them a bit about where their food comes from, as whilst we use machines now, butter is still created from the same basic processes. Learning about metallurgy can be useful later in life if you choose to go down that path, boiler makers, fitters + turners are actually fairly highly sort and pretty well paid in the scheme of things. But cursive, well unless informed otherwise, I haven't come across a use for it yet.

Sigs (1)

Twillerror (536681) | about 5 years ago | (#29487015)

I don't signatures going away this quickly. As much as I would have loved to sign my mortage digitaly...the good 'ole John Hancock is embedded in every day life.

My wife has been forging my sig on papers for a while. All the stupid little things that come around. It does seem a bit easier with everyone scratching it out in block letters.

Cursive is important for two important reasons (0)

mysidia (191772) | about 5 years ago | (#29487017)

You need to sign your name.

Some form of cursive provides a more distinct signature that is harder to forge. And more importantly: you can sign your name a lot more quickly if you don't have to lift your pen for each letter. So think about security and convenience...

Students benefit from knowing:

  • How to read cursive (people will write them a letter or note by hand, sometimes).. Yes electronic messages are common, that doesn't mean noone ever gets or sends manual messages though
  • How to jot down some basic notes in class -- students generally need a notepad to take these
  • How to sign their name, yep/li>

Cursive is indispensable for quick note-taking, and answering questions on tests.

Students generally aren't allowed to have electronic devices during a test, even an essay test. This is especially true in colleges. Some tests may be administered electronically, but not all are, at least not today.

If students don't have the most rudimentary of cursive skills, they will be at a disadvantage in the current environment.

Because it will take them longer physically to write what they want to say, using print letters.

Re:Cursive is important for two important reasons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29487153)

"How to read cursive (people will write them a letter or note by hand, sometimes).. Yes electronic messages are common, that doesn't mean noone ever gets or sends manual messages though"
Unfortunately, your argument means nothing if no one is taught to write it no one will write in it. Say what?

Cursive and printed languages (1)

ugarit (1277962) | about 5 years ago | (#29487027)

This is only a problem with languages where cursive is entirely different from printing. Arabic is one of the few languages where cursive and printing are the same in appearance.

Re:Cursive and printed languages (1)

Captain Sensible (141639) | about 5 years ago | (#29487173)

Not always. Many characters in Arabic are modified by the characters before and after them in cursive script and this is usually beyond most fonts.

Only reason to keep teaching cursive IMO (1)

Nimey (114278) | about 5 years ago | (#29487035)

is so that old handwritten things like diaries and letters are still able to be read.

I haven't used cursive probably since sixth grade or so, and I'm 30. My print is much easier to read, and since I've been a computer weenie for most of my life I usually type long papers, negating cursive's alleged speed benefit.

ESL (1)

KneelBeforeZod (1527235) | about 5 years ago | (#29487039)

people who have learned often don't learn cursive (perhaps reading but not writing). Does it matter to ESL people? Probably not a big deal.

I won't miss it (2, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 5 years ago | (#29487045)

I had a third grade teacher who made me stay after school for several days so I could learn how to write a proper lower-cased "r" in cursive. Never mind that I was the best mathematician in my class; for some reason I was a terrible excuse for a human being by not being able to properly write that letter "r" in cursive.

I don't remember the last time I wrote anything in cursive. My signature on my credit card doesn't in the least resemble the cursive that we were drilled on for so long in grade school. Cursive can go away and be banished to the deepest levels of hell for as far as I am concerned.

jupi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29487047)

I happen to travel quite a lot,

On two years of (rough) traveling, i lost 1 laptop, broke 2 dd's, and was stolen a laptop (that was in ecuador ^^)
As a geek (i'm slashdotting as you amn't I?) I decided to write all my memories on paper asap, and from there copy them in decent w3c xhtml
all that because: I don't have electricity or internet or a computer available all the time...

and I'm lazy and not interested in the forms, so as I learnt to hanwrite in cursives, I just keep it on ^^

so nice and chicks digg it :D

lecture notes (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29487051)

One of the primary uses for cursive writing, historically has been for students to take notes of what teachers and professors are saying in class. This could also be applied to similar note-taking situations outside the classroom, for example, when listening to a speech.

One could argue that this is no longer important because lectures are increasingly videotaped with transcripts (or at least outlines) distributed to students. But taking notes is a way for students to maintain involvement in class. By taking notes, a student is, in a way, recreating the lecture in real-time. It is all too easy to let one's mind drift when one can fall back on transcripts or videotape.

The availability of audiotape or videotapes is dangerous because it generally takes just as long to listen to them as it did to attend the original lecture. It's easy to kid oneself about this, only to find there is not enough time to review them.

I suppose one could type notes into some electronic gadget, but chances are that would strike people as overkill. Why bother? Besides, typing does not support the kind of random access editing of one's notes that cursive writing does (or if it does, it would take too long to do it in real time while the professor is talking).

Cursive != Writing (1)

njfuzzy (734116) | about 5 years ago | (#29487065)

I don't understand what this discussion is about. Cursive is basically an alternative alphabet. Not knowing cursive doe NOT mean you can't write clearly by hand. Printing by hand is far more clear a form of communication that cursive.

Good. (1)

sc0ob5 (836562) | about 5 years ago | (#29487067)

Have you ever tried to read your old report cards written in cursive or doctor notes, or any cursive? They are undecipherable. Sometimes even to the people that wrote it..

Death of the sience of graphology (1)

dumuzi (1497471) | about 5 years ago | (#29487075)

i suppose the graphologists [] willsoon bee reporting their findings on how the choice of font type,font size,use of bold and italics,the use of i instead of I and dozens of other typing choice we make tells us all sorts thing about a person's personality which we could use for counseling,crime investigationand recruitment purposes...

I see a whole new field of pseudoscience just waiting to be brought to the forefront of public imagination by a CSI episode.

Typology and typography are already taken, what shall we call this new science?

Always wonder why these articles even show up... (4, Insightful)

sarkeizen (106737) | about 5 years ago | (#29487085)

What is this the second article about cursive writing on /. this year. Doesn't even seem very technology related not to mention it's pretty much a fluff piece. Tends to spur a bunch of mindless "cursive must die" postings. Probably the occasional moron "nine-times" will post...

Even if we want to think this is discussing technology - there is very little of general import to discuss. Is cursive still useful. Yes. Is it less necessary than before? Yes. Therefore it's reasonable to believe that less people will be doing it (or doing it well).

Now on to the fluff.

The decline of cursive is happening as students are doing more and more work on computers, including writing. In 2011, the writing test of the National Assessment of Educational Progress will require 8th and 11th graders to compose on computers, with 4th graders following in 2019.

The article seems to be about excluding the teaching of handwriting. So what if this test is going to be on a computer (and I'd say that it at least could be argued that this is a *bad* thing). We can assume that the students are both being taught keyboard skills and are using keyboards at home. The writer only has an argument here is if one could be shown as a detriment to the other - and even then one would have to argue the relative merits.

"We need to make sure they'll be ready for what's going to happen in 2020 or 2030," said Katie Van Sluys, a professor at DePaul University and the president of the Whole Language Umbrella, a conference of the National Council of Teachers of English.

Uh...why would this necessitate that? No answer. In fact if you read Oppenheimer's "The Flickering Mind" you'll see just how close this parallels the fear-mongering arguments given for computers for ages - without much evidence to support it - "Oh noes if our children don't get exposed to computers by grade three they will lag behind".

Graham argues that fears over the decline of handwriting in general and cursive in particular are distractions from the goal of improving students' overall writing skills. The important thing is to have students proficient enough to focus on their ideas and the composition of their writing rather than how they form the letters.

It's interesting because you could argue the same thing about computers themselves. That they distract from the actual process of writing.

Besides, it isn't as if all those adults who learned cursive years ago are doing their writing with the fluent grace of John Hancock. No, but Id wager that most of us know what good writing is and could write well when the need arose. In the odd case where I do need to compose formally by pen my handwriting is rather good - if I do say so myself.

Anyway this article doesn't really ask any interesting questions, doesn't cite any interesting research. It's less valuable than water-cooler talk.

ah (2, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 5 years ago | (#29487091)

am not sure students have a sense of any reason why they should vest their time and effort in writing a message out manually when it can be sent electronically in seconds.'"

Well they have a point. If it is faster, cleaner and generally more efficient to type a message, why should they be required not to type but instead produce an inconsistent, generally lower quality hand written version? I suppose if your printer/computer are broken then hand writing is better but that is because you don't have the ability to create a typed copy, same as if you didn't have a pen or pencil to write out a message. Let students use the skills they have to do the best job they can and don't try to force them to learn a skill that the vast majority will inevitably learn poorly. (see previous post about cursive penmanship) Nostalgia for the old days when computers did not exist and students had no other choice is irrational.

times change (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29487093)

Times change. So do methods of communication. Worry about communicating and getting your idea across first, not how pretty it looks. There's absolutely NO reason for children to be put through that mindless slave-work for years on end.... well, not anymore.

It doesn't just not matter, it's a good thing (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | about 5 years ago | (#29487095)

Cursive is... pretty. That's about it. And that's when you can still read it clearly.

As long as people don't lose the ability to read it, it doesn't matter if they can't write it. There's plenty of ways to be expressive in handwriting style, and people who want to use handwriting in that way will put the effort in and develop the skill. I'm certain that people will find value in this and will do it on their own.

This will still be true even if many people do not do it, because the people who wouldn't be bothered to learn it on their own would not have been the people to use it in real life anyway.

There's no need to waste scholastic resources teaching this to kids, especially when there are so many other things that they need to learn that are more important.

I never picked it up (1)

PPH (736903) | about 5 years ago | (#29487103)

Once I was through with penmanship classes, I reverted back to printing. I high school and then college (engineering) we took drafting and I refined my hand lettering skills. I have done some free hand drawings that have been deemed by my (ex) boss as being of sufficient quality to scan and import into our engineering documentation. This, IMO, is a much more valuable skill than cursive writing.

There are two issues here... (3, Insightful)

swordgeek (112599) | about 5 years ago | (#29487111)

First of all, there's the decline of paper-and-pen(cil) as a form of getting 'stuff' down. Secondly, there's the decline of actual cursive writing.

The loss of cursive seems more a sign of the social age, rather than of the technology age. We could easily lose cursive entirely, without a single computer in existence. The world could simply shift to printing, and seems to be going in that direction.

On the other hand, there are still valuable places for using a pen, and will be for some time yet. There's no better way to jot down notes in a meeting, or when brainstorming with someone else. Computers just aren't there yet.

Looked familiar... (1)

powerlinekid (442532) | about 5 years ago | (#29487113)

Same [] thing, different links...

Useful? (1)

do_kev (1086225) | about 5 years ago | (#29487115)

"In the age of computers, I just tell the children, what if we are on an island and don't have electricity? One of the ways we communicate is through writing," she said.

When the best argument you can come up with for why a skill should be learned is that it would be useful were you to be marooned on a desert island, it's probably time to admit that learning said skill is pointless.

"Secretary" (1)

Under_score+1 (1610199) | about 5 years ago | (#29487129)

Cursive has some orgins in cryptography. Early "Secretarys" (we're talking Elizabethan early) main job was to write in "Secretary Script" which was an altered form of readable letters, obfucating of the originatory's thoughts from peering eyes.

Identity (1)

eric31415927 (861917) | about 5 years ago | (#29487151)

About a dozen years ago, I read a book on handwriting analysis.
While initially thinking the text was going to provide me with a good laugh (by being full of bunk), I actually learned a few things.
(Note that I still put little weight into reading personality traits in the way people form their loops.)

However, the way we join letters can identify us.
We have 26 x 26 ways to join pairs of lower-case letters together.
The ways to join letters increases when we include upper-case letters.
Each of us has our own style of forming and joining letters.

Samples of our writing (or print-writing for many people today) provide a form of fingerprint.

Now for the most valuable lesson:

If you want to print something anonymously with a pen:
      Form your letters with lines that do not intersect and do not let your letters touch each other.
      (The fewer intersecting lines in our penning, the more anonymous our writing.)

Cursive writing long abandoned in Australia (2, Interesting)

Captain Sensible (141639) | about 5 years ago | (#29487157)

Or at least in the state of New South Wales, where the Foundation Style is the script that has been taught in schools for at least 15 years. []

Foundation script was introduced to ensure that students produced a readable handwritten script and in the expectation that most future "writing" would be done at a keyboard. (Although I have spoken to Board of Studies people who deprecate keyboard skills, saying that we have to anticipate true speech recognition in a few years time).

It does matter. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29487163)

It does matter.

Cursive is necessary to make signatures reasonably unique.

(insert my own unique scribble here)

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