Cursive writing isn’t easy to teach. Not because it’s a difficult skill, but because there are so many arguing that it isn’t necessary to teach. My fourth and fifth grade students’ parents used to question why I required a weekly spelling assignment to be completed in cursive writing. Parents argued that cursive wasn’t easy for their children; why then did I make them struggle? They argued that everything was online nowadays anyway, in some digital format or another, so cursive writing was obsolete.
While I acknowledge that more and more of our daily life is online or digital, I do not think that means certain skills should fall by the way-side. Every student will someday grow into an adult who will need to learn how to sign their name — on a lease, a loan application, or a contract for work. Likewise, every student will grow into an adult who must know how to read others’ cursive writing — memos from the boss, a “back in ten minutes” sign on a storefront, or a love letter.
As a teacher, I saw cursive writing as a skill that didn’t require any fancy gadgets. It was easy to incorporate into daily lessons. Cursive writing was something that improved with practice. Therefore, students would spend time practicing, see progress, and thus increase their levels of self-esteem. It didn’t matter how much help a student got at home or whether or not a student had internet access at home; every child could learn to write in cursive.
Additionally, many tests require a written portion, and for many students, cursive writing is quicker than printing. However, if a test examiner cannot read the written words, the student’s response may be discounted. Legible cursive is essential.
Being able to write cursive, and thus read cursive, means my students could access a variety of primary source documents. Journals from early explorers are much more significant and meaningful when viewed in their original format rather than being converted to a typed font.
Cursive writing wasn’t easy to teach because there are so many exceptions. Adults tend to develop their own writing style, which may or may not match what they were taught in a classroom. I, for example, do not make my cursive upper-case “q” as a fancy 2, but instead as a “Q.” But that’s okay. I can still read when others do write in traditional cursive formats.
Lastly, cursive writing is a reflection of who we are. The way I sign my name is an extension of my personality. Consider the variations when you ask members of a family to sign their name. Each family member may sign their surname in a slightly different manner. A person’s signature, a person’s cursive is a distinguishing factor — one more aspect of a human being’s individuality.
And nothing quite compares to a hand-written thank you card or a love poem. The words may stay the same, but typed, those words would not have the same emotional impact that a hand-written version does.
Call me “old-school,” but I firmly believe cursive writing belongs in the classroom, regardless of the latest digital device a student has in his/her pocket.
Read more from Wendy at Wendy’s Weekly Words.