TED Conversations

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 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."

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