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Is Cursive Writing Useless?

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  • Tip Bones

I see the debate online and in educational journals across the world, and many are now saying that the loopy, fluid writing of my third grade memories is now obsolete. It never comes up, they say, and we waste valuable education time on antiquated forms of penmanship.

Well, if my cursive handwriting is any indication, maybe we didn't focus on clarity as much as keeping tradition alive. It's true that historical documents often favored cursive over print, and it would be exceedingly difficult to decipher accounts, letters, and stories from the past without a working knowledge of the art of cursive.

It also occurs to me that, for some writers, it could be a faster form of note taking, because it is less necessary to remove the pen from the paper as you write. However, anybody with interest in graphology could tell you that there are as many unique writers as there are people writing, and with the dawn of word processing, typing may actually be faster than cursive. For students with disabilities affecting their writing, cursive could be helpful, as well, but again, writing styles and needs vary widely.

It seems to me that the question isn't whether cursive is obsolete, but whether it's worth devoting hours of instruction time to preserve. Specialized roles may find cursive helpful, such as document historians or anybody who needs to make frequent handwritten notes, but perhaps instruction time would be better spent on improving core skills such as critical reading.

Photo: Original. Melissa Selleys 2019.