The Dying Art of Cursive Handwriting

It looks like we are on the cusp of seeing the end of cursive training in our school curriculum. According to a recent NYT article “Can You Read This? Its Cursive,” (4/29/11) by Katie Zezima “many school districts are spending far less time teaching it and handwriting in general.” As the product of an English boarding school, I still remember the importance of penmanship. Cursive handwriting was a key factor in the grades we received on an assignment, homework or final exams. I practiced diligently on perfecting my cursive handwriting and developing my own unique style; one that I was praised as being legible and elegant. And now, with the advent of all things digital and electronic, computer keyboards, and smartphones the need to put pen to paper is seemingly a dying art. Ms. Zezima notes in her article that many young people today can’t even read something written in cursive. To them, cursive writing is too cryptic and challenging much like cracking a code. Can you imagine coming across handwritten letters found in a box tucked away in the attic and not being able to decipher the text? The Constitution must look like hieroglyphics to the cursive-challenged generation. What would this do to the honing and developing of our fine motor skills? The art of cursive handwriting once a standard component in our schooling is, sadly, on the fast track of becoming a lost and dying art.

Jasmin S. Kuehnert
President & CEO ACEI, Inc.


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4 responses to “The Dying Art of Cursive Handwriting

  1. Kathleen

    Although I, sadly, never honed the fine skills that the author has, I treasure cursive writing. It not only distinguishes me from others but it connects me to others. I remember the first time I noticed that, although hers is much prettier and more legible than mine, my sister and I share a handwriting style just like my nose is definitely from my mother. Save cursive writing.

  2. Terrie Dierlam

    Very interesting, I had no idea it was dying out like that in the schools. My 7 year old daughter is right now learning cursive in Second Grade (albeit a private Catholic school) and has been waiting to use her cursive for the past 2 years at least, (the schools didn’t advocate using it, until they felt the children were ready to learn it properly) practicing it on her own, and even jumped ahead to learn the initial of her first name in cursive before they arrived at that letter. I admit I myself haven’t kept up cursive in the manner that she is learning it and I can take some lessons from her as well! Cursive is probably going the way of the hand written letter in this age!!

  3. Here is an article worth reading: Indiana Schools No Longer Required To Teach Cursive [POLL]

  4. kategladstone

    Handwriting matters — but does cursive matter? The fastest, clearest handwriters join only some letters: making the easiest joins, skipping others, using print-like forms of letters whose cursive and printed forms disagree. (Sources below.)

    Reading cursive matters, but even children can be taught to read writing that they are not taught to produce. Reading cursive can be taught in just 30 to 60 minutes — even to five- or six-year-olds, once they read ordinary print. Why not teach children to read cursive, along with teaching other vital skills, including a handwriting style typical of effective handwriters?

    Adults increasingly abandon cursive. In 2012, handwriting teachers were surveyed at a conference hosted by Zaner-Bloser, a publisher of cursive textbooks. Only 37 percent wrote in cursive; another 8 percent printed. The majority, 55 percent, wrote a hybrid: some elements resembling print-writing, others resembling cursive. When most handwriting teachers shun cursive, why mandate it?

    Cursive’s cheerleaders sometimes allege that cursive makes you smarter, makes you graceful, or confers other blessings no more prevalent among cursive users than elsewhere. Some claim research support, citing studies that consistently prove to have been misquoted or otherwise misrepresented by the claimant.

    What about signatures? In state and federal law, cursive signatures have no special legal validity over any other kind. (Hard to believe? Ask any attorney!)

    All writing, not just cursive, is individual — just as all writing involves fine motor skills. That is why, six months into the school year, any first-grade teacher can immediately identify (from print-writing on unsigned work) which student produced it.

    Mandating cursive to preserve handwriting resembles mandating stovepipe hats and crinolines to preserve the art of tailoring.


    Handwriting research on speed and legibility:

    /1/ Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, and Naomi Weintraub. “The Relation between Handwriting Style and Speed and Legibility.” JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH, Vol. 91, No. 5 (May – June, 1998), pp. 290-296: on-line at

    /2/ Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, Naomi Weintraub, and William Schafer. “Development of Handwriting Speed and Legibility in Grades 1-9.”
    JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH, Vol. 92, No. 1 (September – October, 1998), pp. 42-52: on-line at

    Zaner-Bloser handwriting survey: Results on-line at

    [AUTHOR BIO: Kate Gladstone is the founder of Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works and the director of the World Handwriting Contest]

    Yours for better letters,

    Kate Gladstone
    Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works
    and the World Handwriting Contest

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