News: The Case For Cursive Continues

Case for Cursive

The new American educational curriculum called the Common Core State Standards Initiative is being discussed in the news in part because cursive writing is no longer going to be required instruction. Handwriting instruction has been waning and many states have already chosen not to require it. A national chance in teaching strategies in the US will pretty much guarantee that the few remaining states teaching it, will abandon it as well.

I’m at a loss what to say. So much more is gained in learning penmanship beyond merely the skill to read and write the characters: motor skills, brain pathways, patience and so much more…

I won’t rant here, but there’s plenty of other people who have said it:

Some links from the graphics (couldn’t find the Washington Post article):

(graphic via Montessorium)

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  1. Uh-oh, my big peeve. Rowr.
    Cursive handwriting may still be necessary, but the 19th-century Palmer style shown in the lovely graphic you posted isn’t the way to go. Palmer method caps are useless — look at cap A and M. Those aren’t capitals! Why should cap S start with a big diagonal start stroke? Cap G is worse. What’s with the extra curl off the forehead of cap O? And don’t even mention Palmer cap Q — it’s made to look like a 2. Or cap F and T, that make you reverse the direction of writing to make those horsey boat-tails. Why should kids waste time making decorative caps they almost never read in type?
    Another of the many problems with Palmer cursive is the fetish it makes of connecting every letter. (Is that what they mean by ‘threaded’ writing?) An occasional break makes no difference in readability — it helps, and it’s easier on your hand. The cursive typeface in the post makes a sneaky concession to this in the lowercase e. In schools, e is made as a simple loop from the baseline that looks almost the same as lowercase l [‘el’] . In many people’s fast handwriting, e and l look the same. The type designer has made her e more like the italic handwriting model: see how the stroke that forms the counter doesn’t connect with the exit stroke from the preceding letter. Ha!
    I’ll stop, but there are lots more reasons to hate on Palmer cursive. Okay, here’s one more — Palmer is not the only cursive style, even though good old Grandmom used it. There are other cursive handwriting methods, especially italic, that start with simple forms that are easy on the hand — instead of ‘ball-and-stick’ geometric ‘block print’ forms, which are also from Satan’s pit — and gradually add connections, without those distracting, unnecessary loops. And italic is closer to the development of the Western letterforms that gave us nearly every typeface we have today.
    So there.

    1. Thanks, Chris. I wholeheartedly agree that Palmer style cursive is not the best method to teach. I recommend the modified italic styles in my ,a href=”http://wellappointeddesk.com/2011/10/03/better-handwriting/”.Better Handwriting post.

  2. The info-graphic either misses or obscures the two main advantages of cursive writing. The first is utilitarian; speed and portability. The second builds character through an appreciation of aesthetic quality, which in-turn nurtures one’s pride in doing something properly.

    I believe this whole war against cursive thing is part of a bigger agenda: To drive a wedge between the young and the old in the U.S., and it’s working.

    Once not so long ago I was explaining a bit of mathematics to a precocious teenager. When I uncapped my vintage fountain pen (with a full flex nib) to write an example, my young charge uttered, “Figures you would use one of those.” I pretended to ignore the smug snub and proceeded to write out the equation and some explanatory text – all in classic artful penmanship. Needless to say, there were no further disrespectful emanations from the youngster.

    I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to ponder just who would benefit from dividing groups in society, and why. IMO this isn’t the place for such a debate.

  3. I hated learning cursive, but I was really quite good at it. I was also a good student and made good grades. My nine-year-old daughter had to learn cursive last year, but the school she attends no longer requires it. I made her the deal that I would relearn, and write in cursive exclusively if she would continue. So far, we have both held up our agreement.

    I have many friends from India. They all tell me that cursive was the required type of writing for all grades and subjects over there. I have heard that there are more honor students in India than there are students in America.

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