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Robert Winner


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Should cursive writing be required in schools?

Only three state have made cursive a part of the core curriculum requirements while 45 states require proficiency in computer keyboarding at the elementry level. Some states have made cursive optional.

Has our society advanced to the point of where handwriting has become unnecessary.

What impacts can you see on not being able to write in cursive. Could printing be just as acceptable?


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  • Nov 27 2012: Handwriting matters ... But does cursive matter?
    Research shows: the fastest and most legible handwriters avoid cursive. They join only some letters, not all of them: making the easiest joins, skipping the rest, and using print-like shapes for those letters whose cursive and printed shapes disagree. (Citations appear below)

    When following the rules doesn't work as well as breaking them, it’s time to re-write and upgrade the rules. The discontinuance of cursive offers a great opportunity to teach some better-functioning form of handwriting that is actually closer to what the fastest, clearest handwriters do anyway. (There are indeed textbooks and curricula teaching handwriting this way. Cursive and printing are not the only choices.)

    Reading cursive still matters — this takes just 30 to 60 minutes to learn, and can be taught to a five- or six-year-old if the child knows how to read. The value of reading cursive is therefore no justification for writing it.

    (In other words, we could simply teach kids to _read_ old-fashioned handwriting and save the year-and-a-half that are expected to be enough for teaching them to _write_ that way too ... not to mention the actually longer time it takes to teach someone to perform such writing _well_.)

    Remember, too: whatever your elementary school teacher may have been told by her elementary school teacher, cursive signatures have no special legal validity over signatures written in any other way. (Don't take my word for this: talk to any attorney.)


    /1/ Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, and Naomi Weintraub.
    1998: on-line at http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/27542168.pdf


    /2/ Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, Naomi Weintraub, and William Schafer.
    1998: on-line at http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/27542188.pdf
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      Nov 28 2012: interesting. that's exactly how i write, only joining certain letters together where it is fastest. my writing becomes a strange print/cursive hybrid, all depending on the specific words i am writing. the speed at which i write in this hybrid greatly exceeds the speed at which i write plain print or plain cursive. for example... i'll write the -ing on words in cursive but i will never write the standard cursive r because i find it slow and bulky, and when writing "te" in a word, i write a connected "le" and cross the t. separating letters slows me down!

      i think teaching kids to write efficiently is very important regardless of the prevalence of keyboards. there is always going to be a need to write by hand. efficiency should be the main focus. perhaps along with learning how to write in print, kids could be taught how to write in cursive as well so they can develop a hybrid style that works for them. if a child completely rejects writing in cursive, they should at least be able to read it.

      i should also add legibility is included with the efficiency.
      • Nov 28 2012: If you look at the history of handwriting textbooks, a style of the "hybrid" type was already in place (and was the standard) in the earliest published handwriting textbooks (Renaissance Italy), pre-dating cursive-as-we-know-it by at least 100 years ... And pre-dating (by another 400 years or so) the comparatively recent custom of teaching two diametrically opposite styles (print before cursive).
        Rather than have two styles for the sake of later creating a hybrid, when I teach I start with the hybrid & optionally derive other forms from that if the student is interested in more. Starting with the hybrid also makes it easy to recap the historical (d)evolution to later, frillier forms: so that the students can read these, whether or not they ever choose to write them.
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        Nov 30 2012: You are also not using capitals in your text here, probably due to efficiency reasons and even in a language which uses so little capitals in its writing in general. But the legibility is good... ;o)

        Your hybrid style is perfectly fine and it is the same with me. But I think this way of 'efficiency' is highly individual and nothing which could actually be taught. I would prefer to be less strict on the rules of cursive writing earlier and to encourage students to find their very own style instead.

        Yet in any case legibility goes for efficiency, because otherwise it would count as encryption methode and would fall under state security laws ... :o)

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