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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    Dec 1 2012: I think it is difficult for us "older" folks to accept the changes in communication. The value of good penmanship was something that was important in our education process so we are reluctant to let it go.
    Young people communicate faster and more efficiently than we ever did, shortened words, snap chat, instagram....We talked on the phone for hours, they text, email, facebook, surf the net and watch netflix all at the same time. There were many who thought the Radio, telephone, TV, and even the Typewriter were ridiculous inventions. All of those things changed the way we communicate and the "old" folks of that time were probably annoyed about it.
    The nice thing about being a parent is that you can choose to educate your child the way you want them educated.
    I think the physically written word will become a thing of the past in the not so distant future. I'll always keep a hand written journal, but my kids will do theirs with Dragon.
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      Dec 1 2012: Are we really just 'old' and only me still in denial, or are we a transitional generation which came to see both sides of the coin?

      I was born in 1969 and at the right age when the digital revolution started to roll. I learned cursive writing AND to write my first program in BASIC. I played the video game Pong as enthusiastic as I played Diablo III just 37 years later. I operate notebooks in paper and digital, and I talk to my Dragon with the same patience as I do with my cat. Yet it takes hours of work to open a single file which I stored only 15 years ago, because I can not get the software to run on modern computers. Downward compatibility is a myth and digital storage devices are not lossless, they age over time as well. :o)

      I have a period in my life on which I have no paper record. In which I did not print out this beautiful e-mail of a friend, in which I did not write my thoughts onto paper and didn't print the pictures at a photo store. A single hard-drive failure wiped it all out. No backup, no data recovery possible at that time due to budget, drive dumped.

      Who prints out a tweet today? Sms? Facebook comments or pictures? What will young generations hold in their hands while walking down memory lane in their late 80s? Will Twitter still be there, or Facebook? How do they keep their digital memories alive? In 'The Cloud'? Run by companies who may burst in the next 'bubble' together with all their storage hardware? Will they be able to read their Dragon memos or listen to voice recordings at a time where pdf and mp3 have become as exotic as wax cylinder recordings are today?

      Personally I don't know anyone who keeps digital data up to date in formatting and compatibility. And the tricky part of 'good old times' is, that they appear later in life than we may think they will.

      Kids run in their personal 'memento vacuum' and not knowing it. The old term 'Horror vacui' may get a new meaning in the future. On this I truly hope to be just old and wrong.
    • Dec 3 2012: In prefer to keep penmanship good, Tiffany, any e it now needs to be kept *simple* as well.
      When 19th-century fashions in clothing fell out of favor, this did not means the abolition of good clothing.
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    Nov 29 2012: "The way to write is well, and how is your own business." -- A. J. Liebling
  • 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


    /2/ Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, Naomi Weintraub, and William Schafer.
    1998: on-line at
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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)
  • Dec 6 2012: How about a typing class that types in cursive the whole time!? You can read cursive that way and also learn how to type! Also picking up the ability to sign cursive wouldnt be hard to believe... Thank me later for the 2 dead birds.
  • Dec 5 2012: Cursive writing is absolutely necessary. I know with the changing technologies it seems arbitrary but it actually encourages analytic thinking. Not to mention that print is very easy to fabricate while cursive writing tends to have a more "Signature" look, after all, a signature has to be in cursive to be considered legitimate. SAT's still require students to write the on the back of the booklet saying they won't share information using cursive and sign it for that EXACT reason. Saying it's unnecessary will do society a grand disservice. Kids today don't even know how to write and professors at universities are trying to teach these fundamentals instead of coursework, thus impeding on course material. High school should focus on the proper format IN ADDITION to the correct sentence structures. Writing in cursive allow students' thought to flow more "freely" rather than be hindered by the specific directional changes of print writing. Also, "handwriting" actually means that it is in cursive not print, since "writing in print" means just that. It frustrates me so much to see people take an approach of cutting-out cursive because they didn't bother to learn it and find it difficult to use. If it was taught early in elementary school like it's supposed to be, people wouldn't have that problem.
    • Dec 5 2012: you know you said it so much more eloquently, than my.. "My God, its not taught in Kindergarten" (i'm not from the US, so i didn't know)

      In fact I was so shocked i searched to see if the origin post was true, that's how much I didn't believe this and how stunned I am.

      I am honestly NOT joking with you here, not at all.

      Tech or no, its about the flow of thought from ones mind through to the page, the act of actually feeling the pen transfer, the control, the refinement, the thought and the eloquence of language as you join the nuances together. The eloquence of sustaining thought in a flowing manner, just as speech.

      In fact cursive already reminds me of speech, of a conversation with you the reader, who is unseen, where non-cursive, is the antithesis of this, it's the barking of commands.

      Its now no surprise to me, that most email's I get now are "twitterized". I'd always read them as if somehow feeling the person didn't learn nor has the power to fully express their full meaning, and I think this must have an influence on it.

      Same too, it's clearly a sad state of affairs how people cant read more than one or two lines without being distracted or bored, as the blatantly obvious mean is not given, but rather the subtleties of the situations.

      Which is why I've taken to put lines breaks unlike Alexa, as if to somehow help people get through the difficulty of horror of looking at long paragraph.

      Lastly cursive, has taught me to think BEFORE I write, even if it's typed, as it makes me think about the flow the structure the steam of consciousness, the thoughts, the ideas, the possibilities. And only when that's been formulated to put with pen to paper, or hands on the keyboard.

      So in some ways we're making things harder for children now and when they get to university as this is where, and in later life, they'll need those very skills.

      Or would we rather condemn those children to a life where the only skill required is to ask..."Do you want fries with that?"
  • Dec 5 2012: I can understand how cursive writing can be considered a dying form of communication, but the connotations of its death are conceptually far reaching. Practicality aside, cursive writing is an ancient part of global culture, and not just within the English language but within others as well. To provide a more illustrative depiction of the point I would like to make, I would like to loosely describe our relationship with the hand-written word.

    From the time society began to have form, language has been integral to our understanding of the world around us. Initially our forms of communication might have been through action, that is to say, through hand gestures, the physical interaction with the things around us, body language. As we developed the linguistic qualities that have determined the world's languages today, we began to form words that have meaning within context. Grammar began to form and structure became inherent in how we spoke and articulated to others our identities and relationships. Soon we invented a system that we could use to document our history, and it is through that system that we have progressed in understanding the world.

    Cursive is a thing that notably left us with a legacy of hard copy accounts of world history. Even more important, the hard copy manufacturing of language itself (any language) has allowed us to gain an understanding of other societies and cultures, both ancient and current. While it is fine that communication is moving to an ever more present e-format, just the fact that our documents might become and forever be electronic is dangerous, as it is possible to lose electronic data. If even to preserve the legacy of civilization, the hard-copy, hand-written form of documentation is important, or at the very least having printed versions of our collective global knowledge.
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    Dec 5 2012: I think that there really isn't a point to cursive writing other than knowing how to sign your name. They put such an emphasis on teaching it in elementary school. I remember being told as a kid that they only allowed cursive writing once you got to high school. Obviously that isn't the case. All throughout high school and college I was told not to use cursive. To be perfectly honest, I haven't handwritten any assignment I've had since about elementary school.. so why not spend this time teaching kids about things that they will actually use or focus more on the subjects that form the base of everything they will learn in the future.
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      Dec 5 2012: Leanna - you look fairly young. I think your ideas are those of the future. I agree that there are more important things that should fill the school day than an old fashioned method of communication. It's difficult for some of us to "let go" of what we've always known, but I fear the end of the handwritten note is near.
      • Dec 5 2012: Taking cursive out of academia and other curricula will stunt the already depreciating value of analytic thinking. Students today BS their way through assignments as they memorize facts without any concept of them .Cursive writing actually forces you to examine what you are saying rather than how it looks you are saying it. The free-flow form of cursive allows thoughts to gain a sense of cohesiveness in writing. George Orwell said that the politics in education have been ruining society's ability to write. Most students nowadays cannot concisely phrase what needs to be said in an articulate and sophisticated manner without being overly wordy. Besides granting careful attention to sentence structure, that ability to formulate coherent and cohesive thoughts originates from cursive writing. Getting rid of it is completely foolish despite your (Leanna) apparent "lack of use." I actually use cursive to take ALL my notes. When your notes are handwritten, you remember them better because you are "writing them into your brain" or so to speak, and that concept has been studied. You may not use cursive now but I guarantee when you have greater requirements and responsibilities, you will.
        • Dec 9 2012: What does cursive writing have to do with analytic thinking? I agree that excessive memorization and conversational writing are both problems in education, however, I fail to see their connection to cursive. I also fail to see how writing in cursive automatically curbs one's wordiness or improves grammar, these skills come from training and experience. I disapprove of the remark that coherent and cohesive thought can only be produced by wielding a pen. This statement suggests that people such as R. A. Fisher and Stephen Hawking were incapable of thinking analytically or communicating concisely, because they did not have the ability to write out their thoughts in cursive.

          I support cursive education and I have enjoyed reading appeals in this forum that argue for cursive's historical and cultural value. I myself enjoy calligraphy. What bothered me about the post above was the presumption that cursive writing is closely tied to analytical thinking.

          In the spirit of quoting dystopian authors I would like to end this post with a quote that I think is relevant to this discussion. From Juan Ramón Jiménez and in the epigraph of Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451" : "If they give you ruled paper, write the other way."
  • Dec 4 2012: Cursive, also known as script, joined-up writing. My God, I thought that was done in kindergarten, your telling me its NOT?
  • Dec 4 2012: Okay maybe I should learn a language. I am just advocating cursive writing. Also, teaching spelling is a good idea. Maybe this makes sense.

    OR to spell.
    NLP discusses strategies to learn to spell more quickly and easily.
  • Dec 2 2012: I was born in the 50's and my mother taught me to write in cursive before I went to kindergarten. When my teacher wanted me to print my letters, I refused because cursive was prettier. After a parent-teacher discussion I acquiesced. Good penmanship was emphasized both by school and my parents. My dad felt that people would judge you as stupid if your handwriting was poor.To this day, I find writing in cursive to be a pleasure. A pleasure that is missing from keyboard entry. I've worked using technology for many years and sometimes type notes on my iPad or laptop to cut down on paper that I must track. But I find that my memory of information is better if I wrote my notes in cursive. I would be surprised if I were alone in this. And there's something to be said about the self-sufficiency of being able to handwrite rapidly and legibly without relying on electricity, software and hardware. Yes, you need a pen or pencil... but those are so basic and readily at hand.
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      Dec 5 2012: I agree with you about the act of writing as a way of better remembering/learning. I love the physical process of writing.
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    Nov 30 2012: A few years back when one of my children was in the 5th grade, I chose to teach them how to write in cursive.
    Every now and again I hear the expression: "Mom, I'm so glad you taught me how to write in cursive". This always brings a warm smile to my face.

    And another expression, "Mom, beside me, do you know any other young person who can write in cursive?" I always have to shake my head no.....

    I personally, find writing in cursive is very handy. I have therefore chosen to teach it to my children, as well as any other interested children.

    The nice thing about cursive, is that you can learn it yourself if you want to. You don't need the school to teach it to you.
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      Dec 1 2012: Kudos to you Mary! So many parents complain about what is happening in public school, yet do nothing. You're a Rock Star mom. All parents should participate in educating their children even if that means adding in your own home curriculum. You're an inspiration.
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        Dec 1 2012: Thank you.

        I suppose that I really appreciate having in my possession an instrument that will not break upon dropping to the floor, that needs no charging, and can be easily replaced if lost or stolen, and, one which I can give away freely to anyone who needs it more than me......the pencil/pen.
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    Nov 30 2012: Handwritten notes and letters convey a lot of information that printed notes do not. Graphology views handwriting as a trace of mini-gestures. Handwriting can have information about character and personality, as well as about the mood of the writer. Are the lines straight or wavy? Are lines horizontal or shift up or down? How hard did the hand push on the pen? Are the letters linked or separate? Round or sharp? Are letters wide and spaced out or narrow and close together? All these details are believed to bear information about personality. E.g. I've read that fancy letter decorations reveal rich imagination. Linked handwriting, where letters smoothly flow into each other indicate a person with strong reasoning abilities, able to connect things together. Narrow margins indicate a frugal person trying to use every inch of the paper. Long horizontal strikes at the end of lines, as if person tries to make sure that nothing is added, may indicate a suspecting person, etc.

    Also, a handwritten invitation or a thank you note indicate that the person took the time to think about each addressee individually instead of printing multiple copies of the same message without personal attention.

    Since handwriting is related to personality, it is clear that cursive may not suit everyone. Some people naturally choose to write with cursive, some naturally tend to write with block letters. This brings to mind another question: should all children be taught the same curriculum at school? Some are better at languages, some at math, some like to express ideas graphically or through music. It's a tough question. If one loves cursive, it does not mean that cursive would work for everyone or that everyone needs to be taught cursive.
  • Nov 28 2012: Cursive should be taught in school. Some kids are better at cursive than printing and if they aren't taught the skill, they'll always just believe they have terrible handwriting.

    Writing in a different manner encourages a different way of thought and that should be encouraged.
  • Nov 28 2012: You aren't alone, Sterling Brewer. Just this January, I was at a a conference of handwriting teachers (of all people!), among whom a survey revealed that 55% admit that their own handwriting is a hybrid: (This is question #2 on the survey —

    Another 8% said they "print" their writing —
    only 37% (fewer than two-fifths!) claimed to use cursive when they write.

    It was VERY interesting to see the expressions on the conference staffers' faces when the survey was tabulated, and the results displayed, at the end of the day. Even more interesting were the facial expressions, and the murmured comments, of numerous attendees: plainly, many of them were surprised (and often delighted) to find that they were not the only ones NOT practicing what they preach (or teach).

    For what it's worth, my experience and observation are that many folks in the handwriting business (who declare themselves for cursive) write a hybrid but aren't even aware that they do. It's quite common, for instance, for teacherly comments on grade-schoolers' papers to be in a clear, rapid, semi-connected hybrid — but to read something like: "Please always write in cursive. It is very important to write in cursive We are big boys and girls now, so we need to be using the cursive alphabet and connecting ALL our letters instead of partly printing": yet the teacher is "partly printing" throughout this comment.
    I actually know of cases where kids were sent to the principal, to the guidance counselor — or, in a couple of cases, to the school psychologist — for asking why the teacher claimed to be writing in cursive when she wasn't. The teachers in these cases were unaware of how they, themselves, were writing: when they were forced to look at how they actually wrote — versus how they imagined themselves to write — reactions were, again, interesting.
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    Nov 27 2012: I was thinking about the slide rule recently after seeing one at a garage sale (50-cents). They were once an integral part of everyday routine for students and engineers. Now they are archaic and irrelevant. Is there a convincing argument to restore, or maintain, teaching the slide rule? I can't think of one. If technology, or conditions, render a tool or skill irrelevant and unnecessary it should be replaced in the curriculum. So, the question is: Has cursive handwriting become irrelevant and/or unnecessary? I say yes it has. So my argument in your debate is con. Thank you.
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      Nov 27 2012: Let get this right ... slide rules are archaic and irrelevant ... when did that happen ..... I really have to get out more. I was a member of the slide rule club ... guess they will break up too. It's a sad day.

      You are right of course.

      I really hate going to sales and museums and have my grandkids ask ... what is that grandpa? It is always something that I have used and know well. It is because I read a lot ... not that I am old or anything.

      Always a pleasure to correspond with you. Bob.
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      Nov 27 2012: They are so rare now, that they often carry a premium price!
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        Nov 27 2012: Really? I might have to find mine...
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        Nov 27 2012: As will anyone who can use a pen or pencil to perform the lost art of penmanship.
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          Nov 27 2012: I think those of us who still write often by hand should make sure we write something that way for the next generations in our families, so they retain a sample of that soon-to-be-lost art.
  • Dec 13 2012: While I think that cursive longhand is beautiful when done well, I think it is not entirely necessary to learn it in school.

    "But it's faster!" I have seen people print just as fast as a cursive hand can be written. Also, if it is speed you're after, shorthand outpaces everything, including a professional typist with a keyboard. Schools might do well to teach this.

    "When I write this way, my thoughts are more cohesive because it enables me to analyse as I write." If this is true for you, that's fine. However, it's not true for me, or for the 1 billion Chinese people who write with pictographs, many of whom I'm sure have cohesive thoughts and ample analytical ability.

    "It's part of our history and culture." I agree that learning how to read cursive may be important culturally--for example, this skill would find use in examining primary source documents. Learning how to write cursive may also be important culturally and could have a place in art classes.

    "We need to use cursive to sign things." Perhaps, but people's signatures will always be unique, printed or not. Interestingly, in Asia signatures are not used. Instead, they use a stamp (in Japan, it's called a HANKO).

    "Why is handwriting on the wane?" I believe it is a symptom of a big shift in our culture that began with the immediacy that electronics brought to our communication. Handwriting is linear and progressive, but communication has become more oral and immediate. In other words, our literate culture is taking on features of an oral culture. What it will become, I don't know. However, I think that it is important to give respect to our new cultural norm, and if this means ditching an outmoded method of writing, there is nothing wrong with that. Or with experiencing a few growing pains:)

    Marshall McLuhan has lots to say about this cultural shift in "Understanding Media."
  • Dec 9 2012: I think it should still be taught in schools. I work in upper management and I find myself still using it from time to time. I deal with a property insurance company when my customers have a loss and they prefer things be done the "old fashion way" and be hand written and mailed. I find that cursive still does come in handy for me.
  • Dec 5 2012: I know I posted this in a comment below, but it deserves saying again. At the end I'll give you the best reason that I can that actually shows why what I say, I believe to be true.

    I'll also add, that i think age, as some have commented has nothing to do with this, eg Tiffany, nor am i disagreeing with Danger, but rather hopefully giving him the very reason he asks for.

    I quote myself...

    Tech or no, its about the flow of thought from ones mind through to the page, the act of actually feeling the pen transfer, the control, the refinement, the thought and the eloquence of language as you join the nuances together. The eloquence of sustaining thought in a flowing manner, just as speech.

    In fact cursive already reminds me of speech, of a conversation with you the reader, who is unseen, where non-cursive, is the antithesis of this, it's the barking of commands.

    And in reference to both of those paragraphs, you can see cursive in my first example, and capitalization in the second.

    Those being;

    1) The declaration of independence. ( click on the image to enlarge it )

    2) The Ten commandments.
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    Dec 5 2012: Being that computers have a hard time reading cursive, maybe it w0uid be best lf we hu-mans malntaln a c0mmunlcatlon
    sy st em
    th-ey can t re~ad. ;)
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    Dec 4 2012: Should the ability to read "The Declaration of Independence" be required?
    Too much of history is in cursive to let it be a forgotten art.

    Plus with the future advancements in voice to text and text to voice, do you think all typing, keyboarding and printing should optional some day?
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      Dec 5 2012: As the mother of teenagers, I feel very confident that there are few in the public school system today that could read the Declaration in it's original form. SCARY!!
      Yes, I think that typing, writing, keyboarding, all of them will drop out of the daily routine in less years than I prefer to admit.
      Next year my older son will be a Senior. His school is switching to an all IPAD Curriculum. They will have all of their text books on the IPAD, They do their homework, write papers and take tests on line. For him, the only thing left to "write" are math problems. They take notes on their laptops. He uses verbal text.
  • Dec 3 2012: Re:
    > A few years ago all texts were changed from the generality of "he" or "him" to include both sexes and the term >s/he came into effect and was substuted [sic] for all "he" or "him" in texts.

    ALL texts, everywhere? The ones in my library haven't changed — neither has all of Google, which includes recent prose containing "him/her" along with whatever usages you suppose to have "all" been abolished.
    By whom, sir, were they abolished — and how?.
  • Dec 3 2012: Let me know what you think!
  • Dec 3 2012: Re:
    "Kate: s/he is the shortened she and/or he"

    I would have thought so, too, but of course I'd immediately realized that it wouldn't have made any sense because what you'd written was "let s/he" ... and expanding that to "let she and/or he" wouldn't have made any more sense than the original. If "let him or her" is the intent, wouldn't the abbreviated version be "let him/her"? I'm trying to figure out why, and where, a (presumably) native speaker of English would use "let s/he" instead of "let him/her." Have I been wrong, all these years, to have "him" and "her" in my vocabulary? I'd thought that I spoke this language pretty well ...

    " .... whalla in general means there it is"

    I don't understand the phrase "means there it is." Of course I'm familiar, like most literate user of English, with the word "voilà" — pronounced "vwa-LA," borrowed from French, and meaning _precisely_ "there it is." Magicians, of course, often use that word. Could you have had "voilà" in mind, and not bothered much about how to spell it or pronounce it?
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      Dec 3 2012: A few years ago all texts were changed from the generality of "he" or "him" to include both sexes and the term s/he came into effect and was substuted for all "he" or "him" in texts. Shooting the messenger will not help.

      Walla or voila ... a rose is a rose by any other name. Please contact the magicians union to issue a change.

      Does either of the corrections you suggest impact the question of cursive writing?

      Thanks for your reply. Bob.
  • Dec 3 2012: A lot of tasks in school are designed to stimulate the mind. The task itself is just a means of teaching the mind to process new information. However I don’t believe cursive writing is the most efficient way of helping in the learning process. Plus there is not much applicable use for cursive writing. Student’s time could be better spent. I’m sure we could all agree that there is “possibly” a more efficient replacement.
  • Dec 3 2012: Sure, along with clay tablet script. Soon we will have direct mind control for all our communication needs.
  • Dec 3 2012: My own comment referred to your earlier praise (in this thread) of an elaborately decorated cast-iron column.
  • Dec 3 2012: Sorry, I don't understand a question that has been stripped of full context. Please supply the missing context by indicating (e.g.) what noun underlies "ones" in your sentence, or by quoting the sentence to which your question was a repy.
  • Dec 3 2012: Keyboards are on the way out. Pens will be back in again before too long. Not the old type with ink in them but ones that write into devices. Not sure if you will need cursive but good handwriting will help you with the next bit of technology. Plus we need to reevaluate shorthand for writing on a tablet. Shorthand is still the fastest way of writing ever devised.
  • Dec 3 2012: To Robert Winner:
    I don't understand "let s/he"/"whalla"/"a k class" — are those abbreviations from texting? What do they stand for?
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      Dec 3 2012: Kate: s/he is the shortened she and/or he .... whalla in general means there it is and was widely used by magicians .... k means kindergarten. Sorry for the confusion.

      Thank you for your participation in this conversation. Bob.
  • Dec 3 2012: Re:
    " But I think this way of 'efficiency' is highly individual and nothing which could actually be taught."

    That's false, though — because I teach it, and so do colleagues of mine, and our students learn it with pleasure and success. In fact ... The first published handwriting textbooks taught this way of writing. (Let me know if you want a link to the very earliest one, with an English translation on the site.)

    To see this type of writing taught today, visit:

  • Dec 2 2012: Re:
    "So if we put everyone into one single writing style because the drawing of letters for documentation purposes is no longer necessary, how can we be sure we are giving enough options for all handwriting types?"

    Excellent question — which is why Italic handwriting instruction specifically outlines a wide range of options (for joining, shapes, and so on). Some Italic writers join less than others, for instance, all depending on what testable works FOR THEM ... (e.g., some will join into a letter "s" and some won't: I am of the leather schools,s. o I routinely help my students to find out which side of that particular fence THEY themselves need to be on).

    In conventional handwriting, your only permitted choices are extreme (e.g., either join envy thing, or join nothing). In Italic handwriting, you have a wide spectrum of options: some joins that almost every Italic user makes, other joins that are made by rather fewer Italic users, and so on ... Like getting to draw with the whole box of crayons (and being shown how to see/feel for yourself which one makes sense for you to use right then,right there) instead of being told you must use only the very blackest black or the very whitest white and none of the shades or gradations in between them, ever.
  • Dec 2 2012: Re:
    " ... but you are advocating an already hybridized way of handwriting?"
    Yes — the specific type of hybrid I advocate teaching (from the get-go: "already hybridized," as you says hen it's taught) ) is a type that actually pre-dates any of the other systems (cursive or print-writing) taught today. It's their common ancestor: the style of the first published handwriting textbooks in our alphBet (back in Renaissance Italy) which mskes it the oldest handwriting-style (for our alphabet) that's still in continuous use.
    Specifically, we had that particular category of hybrid-looking writing-style (often called "Italic") for quite a while before it eventually (d)evolved step-by-step into the cursive that people wrongly assume "must" have been around forever. If you want to know more of the facts about this, feel free to get in touch with me privately: or 518-482-6763 (Albany, NY)
  • Dec 2 2012: I don't write in cursive, though I did value the time spent learning it. It was a new skill that needed to be learned. Never wrote cursive afterwards, but it did help me to decipher those that did. It was a new way of thinking about language and how everything fits together and that alone is why it should be taught. Not all that different from printing but enough that kids should ask why, or getting them thinking down the lines of why.

    Now I write all capitals whenever I print anything, if I write in lowercase it is barely legible, write in cursive and if you can decipher what I wrote you are step ahead of the one who wrote it.

    I had learned that they stopped teaching it in our area and I was dumbstruck, but not because it wouldn't be used, but that the opportunity for the kids to expand their knowledge and skills was lost as well. It is an art form same as calligraphy, which I also learned in a graphics class, which was a lot of fun and ultrachallenging for me. Cursive can take benign statements and make them have an altogether different meaning and that is now a lost art.
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    Nov 29 2012: 37 years ago my answer would be a clear NO to your question, sweating in elementary school. Yet several typewriter, computers, laptops, cell- & smartphones as well as tablet-pc's later my answer is a clear YES.

    Besides stenography, cursive writing is the fastest analogue writing methode known to us and should therefore be within our arsenal of personal skills. It also trains the hand-eye coordination very intense to improve our fine motor skills than typing does, and within its learnig curve it gives enough 'room for thoughts' within the process itself.

    In German we have an expression called 'begreifen' which means to understand or to comprehend something. The clostest English analogy I know of is to 'grasp'. 'Be - greifen' literally means 'to touch' or to get 'in touch' with something very close, very 'tactile' which I think is what cursive writing still does best of all forms of writing we have available today to finally 'understand' what we are doing.

    I do see that I am no challenge for any 15 year old girl writing her SMS close to the 'speed of light', as both of my hands turn 'left' with thumbs only on those little keypads, yet what does she do if the battery runs out?

    In a time where more and more kids don't even manage to do a simple somersault because their body control has never been trained properly, I think we should not allow them to get away with keyboarding again. Many of them will hate it, that's for sure, and so did I, but this does not mean that just because of TV and youtube we could eliminate reading skills next, does it? :o)
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      Nov 30 2012: I also believe that handwritten notes turn on additional memory and learning mechanisms. I don't know if everyone should learn cursive, but handwriting is, clearly, an important skill and learning tool.

      However, similar arguments can be made about music. Fine motor skills, rhythm (pattern recognition), concepts of fractions, not to mention emotional development, etc., etc. Should everyone be taught music?
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        Nov 30 2012: 'Should everyone be taught music?'

        Given the benefits you mention besides playing an instrument, your argumentation is compelling. Yet only by personal experience I would not have it obligatory for kids and voluntarily only.

        I was fortunate at young age to choose the instrument of my interest and to have private lessons once a week to learn how to play it. By this I also learned some additional conditions a child should also be allowed to choose, namely its teacher and also the style of music it likes to play. In absence of alternatives, I could not choose my teacher and I was not able to pick my style. On the long run, both became a motivation killer and after 4,5 years I lost the last bit of my interest.

        Nevertheless even those imperfect condition I won't miss, as the instrument did change my abilities in a positive way. I still know how to play this instrument and get better quick with a little practice.

        The right music is a great teacher!
  • Nov 29 2012: Handwriting is very needed in yourworld cursive is just a fansier form of our basic alphabet. I feel that its up to the school boards to determine wether we need it or we don't need it in the schools.
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    Nov 29 2012: Handwriting is necessary. I don't think anyone is debating that.

    I think what we're debating here is whether our schools should teach two different scripts: block letters and cursive letters.

    You could argue that cursive writing is faster. But how often do people write by hand these days that the difference is significant? And when was the last time you read something in cursive writing?

    You could argue we need to learn cursive writing so you can develop your unique signature - but I don't buy that argument.

    So I would say cursive writing should not be required in schools.
  • Nov 28 2012: Cursive writing is a waste of time. Sure, it is faster than writing letters discretely, but few people use it later in life. Making it optional sounds perfect to me.

    I've always had very bad handwriting. So, a teacher at school tried to get me to fill up cursive writing workbooks even in grade 9, which I did. But I don't think it made any difference to me. Many decades later, the only think the only time I write these days is for signing my name. When I must write for myself, I still join my letters, but when I write for others, I write my letters separated.
  • Nov 28 2012: Duh Is it really that big a deal to learn cursive writing. Or to spell NLP teaches us how to spell I advocate to keep doing the basics,too. Maybe tghe educators have lost track. Teachers are not the group I would choose to decide what the future should be. Dig our an IBM 360 when you find my old slide rule. Computers and the future computer type devices will be simplier, more specific, and easier to use. We have time for kids to learn cursive. Who knows how many will write poorly and become physicists, chemists, medical doctors,etc. But they can still write.
    • Dec 3 2012: Re:
      "Or to spell NLP teaches us how to spell."

      I don't understand that sentence — and I'm a native speaker of English. Please translate or clarify that sentence.
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    Nov 27 2012: There are many many times in life when you absolutely need a signature. It is still the only way to make sure a signature is valid. Yes cursive should still be taught.
    • Nov 27 2012: Manual signatures are more of a tradition than an viable security mechanism., they can be forged very easily, which is one of the reasons transactions with cheques are a dumb idea and also why really important contracts and treaties are signed in public or in the presence of a notary.
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      Nov 27 2012: Linda, I agree. However if cursive goes away then retnia scan and hand print technoligies are available. For a long time there has been talk of inserting chips under the skin for locators and ID mechanisims The point is that if cursive goes away I am sure that there will be another ID method that is acceptable.

      I personally like cursive and it is much easier without the stone and chisel.

      Thanks for the reply. Bob.
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        Nov 27 2012: Oh I wasn't familiar, are you saying that they have some way of writing that does not require a chisel?
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          Nov 27 2012: Yeah, but it is for the younger set. Darn hippies.
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        Dec 2 2012: You know, retinal scans and hand print technology require both power and the technology. We all know what happens when power goes out as it did with Katrina and Sandy. You can loose and hack technology all too easily. I still think handwriting will not go away any time soon.

        I just can't see closing on a house with a retinal scan.
    • Nov 28 2012: You are incorrect, Ms. Taylor. Please see the last paragraph of my first letter, then the "signatures" question on the FAQ page of the handwriting information site .
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        Dec 2 2012: Well, I write like your citations state and my signature is a combination of block and cursive letters. But it is still my signature and I can recognize it even if it is a relatively good forgery (I do have kids and a working printer). But you cannot develop a signature without cursive no matter how hybridized your signature is in method. The shortcuts I take in hybrid handwriting are different than the shortcuts others take simply because our hands move differently. I also have different signatures. A legal signature and a working signature.

        Even an notarized signature. You have to write something down. You can't just put an X and have your witness put an X and your notary put an X with a seal. What would be the point?

        My handwriting is really bad, I mean really. It is almost like code that only I can read. But I also do calligraphy. So I know the skill of drawing letters. They are almost two different skills. I use the same skill in calligraphy as I do in sketching. It is connected to the art part of my brain. Handwriting is putting thoughts down. It is connected to the language/cognitive part of my brain. And my thoughts move way quicker than my hand.

        And yes, I even learned Gregg Shorthand. Sometimes I slip that into my handwriting too. Maybe we should move from letters to shorthand in school? But shorthand is more like drawing sound as opposed to writing. That is connected to the auditory part of my brain. I would have to train it to move into the cognitive.
        • Dec 2 2012: Re:
          "But you cannot develop a signature without cursive no matter how hybridized your signature is in method" —
          That's false, Linda — numerous easily distinguishable signatures (including my own) are of the hybridized type: some are even printed. (For legal info, see the "signatures" FAQ on the handwriting-info site — use the navigation-grid to get to the FAQ page, and search there for "signature")
          Questioned Document Examiners (these are specialists in the identification of signatures, then verification of documents, etc.) inform me that the least forgeable signatures are the plainest. Most cursive signatures are loose scrawls: the rest, if they follow the rules of cursive all, are fairly complicated: these make a forger's life easy.
          The individuality of non-cursive style writings is further shown by this: six months into the school year, any first-grade teacher can immediately and accurately identify (from the writing on an unsigned, print-written assignment) which of her 25 or 30 students wrote it.
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        Dec 2 2012: Let me know if I am wrong, but you are advocating an already hybridized way of handwriting? I just don't have the time at this second to really study the links. But I will.

        I think it would be very interesting but let me give you an example. I never use a cursive 's' either capital or small. The reversal of direction in the cursive drives me nuts and slows down my script. My husband on the other hand, always uses a cursive 's' unless he is using deliberate block letters for documentation clarity and in that case he is drawing letters. His script tends to be smaller and more condensed than my script which is more open and fluid. Each option works the best in our handwriting styles.

        So I have a preference and he has a preference but we each choose the preference for our own hands.

        I agree that first-grade teachers can accurately identify her students script. But they probably can also identify the coloring and the scissor work and the gluing skills of the students. Not sure of the research here. Most of us have lived through the question "Did you do this all by yourself?"

        So if we put everyone into one single writing style because the drawing of letters for documentation purposes is no longer necessary, how can we be sure we are giving enough options for all handwriting types?
  • Nov 27 2012: "Should cursive writing be required in schools"

    Yes, writing by hand will always be necessary in people's lives and since it's very hard and time consuming to draw letters the way they appear on a keyboard, cursive writing will always be necessary.
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    Nov 27 2012: Robert,It would not hurt to teach kids to write in cursive. Personally, I feel that it takes less effort to write in cursive because you lift the pen/pencil off the paper less frequently...and it looks more elegant.
    My 5 year old son prints the alphabets. Both myself and my husband write in cursive, so we are teaching him to write in cursive at home. I do hope that handwriting does not become a lost art.
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      Nov 27 2012: Madhavi, As a Pharmacist you could attest to cursive becoming a lost art every time you try to decipher a Doctors penmanship.

      The next time you go to the school look at the displays of student work on the walls and you can tell that cursive is in real trouble.

      When I went to school my cave master spent a lot of time to ensure that we chisled each letter correctly. A stone with errors would get a reduced grade and all of the other hunter gathers would make fun of you.

      Thanks for the reply. All the best. Bob.
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        Nov 28 2012: Bob, I had a similar cave master in India who made me chisel stones as well. I wonder if the cave masters have become extinct :-)
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          Nov 28 2012: Yes. Think about this. If you raised you children the same as you were raised you would go to jail. My teachers were task masters and very strict. They also taught my parents and when the parents were called in the teacher would admonish them and then I would catch holy Ned when they got home. If I got swats at school I got more when I got home.

          Dr Spock and other "do gooders" changed all of that. To bad. We had a better grip on world events and core subjects than we do now.

          Thanks for the reply. Bob.
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      Dec 1 2012: 'I do hope that handwriting does not become a lost art.'

      Your reference of handwriting being ART is not just beautiful, it actually explains the decline of cursive writing in industrialized countries.

      The first time I came to learn 'block letters' officially was in technical drawing class. The whole set of letters was even normed, as well as spacing, line distance, stroke width, etc.

      Each standardisation sacrifices individuality, each norm sacrifices expression.

      At some train stations in Europe, if one is lucky, you can still find the most beautifully crafted and designed cast iron columns from the turn of the century, which only technical purpose is to hold the platform canopy.

      Compared to what we build today, it becomes quite obvious that we impoverished or form of expression in less than a hundred years:

      The Art of Writing seems to face the same impoverishment in our everyday lives ...
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        Dec 2 2012: Thanks Lejan. You make a good point!
      • Dec 3 2012: I don't understand why anyone would want a column like THAT to hold up a canopy.
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    Gail .

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    Nov 27 2012: My mother (born in 1926 in Holland) was never taught cursive in school. When she came to America (1946), she quickly learned how to sign her name to a check. It is so much easier to forge printing than it is to forge a signature or any cursive writing. So until we have a better way to verify authenticity, it should be taught. Perhaps future fingerprint reading machines could replace the need for a signature, as people use a thumb print to validate a check, voter eligibility, or other legal document.
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    Nov 27 2012: To be honest I believe teaching handwriting should be part of the curriculum in schools I believe it helps in teaching people proper spelling and grammar as for cursive that's up for argument my cursive looks like a spider on crack but then again they never picked up that I was left handed so I was taught to write right handed I still write backwards.
    But as far as teaching spelling and grammar I think it should still be taught learn the basics first and then go on to keyboard skills.
    Due to social networking the English language ( and I am sure other languages) have deteriorated badly due to the shortening of words for use in things such as texting and TWIT ter . I know mine has since having to use computers on such a regular basis.
    The art of writing has changed, the art of imagination has changed , but the basics remain.
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    Nov 26 2012: I think at this point printing should be an acceptable substitute, though I could be talked into the other view.

    I don't think not being able to write in cursive makes any difference in either a professional or personal setting, but not being able to read cursive is a small handicap, for example, if you need your mom to read you the letter grandpa wrote you.
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      Nov 27 2012: Fritzie, I could also live with only printing .... but in due time that would go away to the typed word. The one thing I would discuss would be the requirement for a legal signature for documents. Perhaps by then we would all have inserted chips and that would be the certification of identity.

      Like you I only see a inconvience and that would go away after a couple of generations.

      Thanks for the reply. All the best. Bob.
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        Nov 27 2012: I thought of signatures, but a kid could learn to sign a signature without knowing cursive more generally.

        I love to write by hand, actually, which I do in a combination of cursive and printing. And I type with two fingers.
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          Nov 27 2012: Yeah, I came to the same conclusion ... rote memory ... just let s/he copy it a few dozen times and whalla a signature master. Every signature would look just like the teacher writes. But after a few generations that too would go away.

          My conclusion is that if it starts to go away a alternate for legal purposes will be put into place and it will all go begining with a k class and good-bye cursive. Perhaps a eye or hand print identifier as those are already here.

          As ever, Bob.