By January 23, 2016 BlogPost 2 Comments

Yesterday evening I posted a question to my Facebook friends. I asked the elementary teachers and parents with children in elementary school if handwriting was a grade on a student’s report card and if cursive writing was still part of the curriculum. The results were varied.

Though one pattern did emerge in the responses from my educator friends. Cursive handwriting was either made optional or removed from the curriculum in Dallas area schools to make way for materials related to standardized tests. My friend Sarah that has taught in Dallas and now teaches at a small school district in rural East Texas said that she now teaches cursive as part of her 5th grade art class. My gut reaction to that piece of information is that late elementary or middle school art classes may be a good home for cursive education in the future.

From the parents the results were all over the place. Parents had children that were learning cursive in Texas, South Carolina, Washington, and Virginia in both public and private schools. In some of the schools handwriting was graded and it others it was not. In Texas and Washington  there were also those had children that were not taught cursive.

A common response from teachers and parents expressed a desire for cursive to remain or to return to elementary education. Yet, when I pressed for a justification I couldn’t get many responses that weren’t attached to nostalgia. With the exception of my friend Jennifer, who’s daughter has been required to write in cursive since the second grade at her private school in South Carolina, saying that she had read research that claimed writing in cursive helps children with ADHD pay closer attention. That is a big reason, and more on that in a moment.

This morning I woke and went to Twitter while drinking my coffee and learned two things almost immediately. One, there is an organization called the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association (WIMA). Two, today is National Handwriting Day which is sponsored by WIMA to commemorate the birthday of John Hancock. I recommend going over to Twitter and checking #nationalwritingday

Here are some highlights I’ve found so far:

From The PBS News Hour a report on the status of cursive education in schools.

From the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York a timeline on the history of Chinese calligraphy.

From the New York Public Library an interview with Tom Wolfe on handwriting and humility.


  • Theresa B Theresa B says:

    I have to wonder why cursive is even taught in schools, to be honest. I don’t get much out of it as an adult, excluding the ability to sign cheques fairly decently. It doesn’t seem necessary to our lives, and it doesn’t seem helpful. Why spend weeks teaching children something they won’t use? In response to the ADHD reason, other schools have implemented various physical activities to help students who are hyperactive: desks with pedals, replacing chairs with exercise balls, and simply asking students with ADHD to help pass out papers.

    As someone who hates reading cursive, hated having to write cursive, and had a terrible forth grade teacher who would punish us if we held our pencils “incorrectly,” I can’t say the extinction of cursive saddens me.

    • Dustin M Dustin M says:

      There is some interesting research on how the brain functions when someone physically writes something down. In a nutshell, there are people that through injury or illness may lose the ability to read, but they do not lose the ability to write. There also seems to be some evidence that printing and writing in cursive use different sections of the brain. So what is the benefit of teaching cursive? There brain appears to work differently when writing in cursive, but what that difference means has yet to be determined. (from what I’ve found so far) As far as the arguments about children being able to read historic documents or letters from their grandparents I’m not sold. However, if there is a consensus around students retaining information more by writing in either print or cursive as opposed to typing I am sold.

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