Should cursive still be taught/required at school?

Last night, “The Simpsons” mocked cursive not being taught at schools anymore. Lisa snuck off and Bart wanted to know why.  Principal Skinner, Bart, Bus driver Otto and a group of other students followed her to discover her secret. It turns out a former principal was teaching her cursive.

Otto asked don’t they teach that at school?  To which Principal Skinner explained that cursive was “outmoded, no room in the budget and all the teachers forgot how to make a Capital Q.”

When I grew up in Gwinnett, I can remember learning cursive from Mrs. Reddick, my third-grade teacher. I loved all the flowing, fancy letters. It made me feel like a grown up and much like Ramona Quimby of the Beverly Cleary books I liked to write my name on every scrap of paper I could find.

Rose was taught cursive it in second grade and then they used some in third grade. When we were still in Georgia, there was a test in fifth grade I believe you had to write in cursive. But I think maybe that stopped being a requirement. (Teachers is it still a requirement? Is it still taught at all?)

In Arizona, they did the cursive practice book in third grade but I don’t think it required or graded beyond that. In fact, his teacher this year encourages types whenever possible.

Does your school teach cursive? If so, what grade? Is there any requirement to use it in class or on state tests?  Should it be taught? Is it outmoded?

103 comments Add your comment

Shannon W

November 12th, 2012
1:47 am

My daughter is learning cursive as a 3rd grader at a Catholic school in Pittsburgh. She enjoys learning it. I think it should still be required.

MattSpeaks

November 12th, 2012
6:33 am

Ive gat a kalqlater 2 do mi math an a computor 4 readin an writin so Y shuld i half to learning to writ in cursaf? thats jus stupid. we dont needin that we jus shuld learning to speek chinaese.

cursaf wuz 2 hard.

Teacher

November 12th, 2012
7:33 am

As a fifth grade teacher, I can state, emphatically, that cursive instruction is no longer needed in the classroom. The time spent teaching cursive would be much better spent teaching keyboarding. When discussing this topic with others, I tend to see more of an emotional response to the demise of cursive instruction verses the practicality of continuing this instruction. Classroom instructional time is already jam packed with core concepts that need to be covered. Cursive writing is simply not on that priority list nor is it useful in today’s technological age. I do, however, write in cursive so that my students can read it. We have a generation of cursive writers that still utilize it. I want my students to be able to read a birthday greeting or letter from their grandparents.

homeschooler

November 12th, 2012
7:43 am

@ Teacher, that was going to be my main point. I worry about kids not being able to read cursive. My teenage niece and my best friend’s teens can not read cursive. I also think kids need to be able to sign their name in cursive. I wonder if today’s kids are all going to print their names on documents? My son spent about two years practicing cursive (home schooled). He was very good at it but never chose to switch his writing on papers etc.. to cursive. He can read it and he signs his name. My daughter is learning it now and I think she will eventually switch and write in cursive. Home schooled girls I know tend to do that more than boys.
I get the emotional response. I hate to see it become a “lost art”. I really think it should be part of every educated person’s life but I do understand that times are changing.

catlady

November 12th, 2012
7:49 am

Theresa, I have never been aware that there was any requirement to write in cursive on any test. I would be thrilled if lower grade teachers would just teach correct printing! We have second, third, and fourth graders whose printing looks like pre-school!

Scrolling back awhile, my mom had elegant cursive handwriting, from both hands! She was a lefty, but was made to write right-handed until my grandmother explained to the teacher that God made her left-handed, not the devil!

Sage

November 12th, 2012
8:01 am

Here’s a thought…..a lot of these children will grow up without having developed a personal signature!

Global Nomad

November 12th, 2012
8:15 am

Our son and daughter, now 18 and 19, never learned cursive. but instead were introduced right to keyboarding in second grade. Today, when their high school teachers and college professors write comments in cursive on their papers, the kids come to us to translate the handwriting! Same with hand-written letters and notes from Grandma and relatives. They might as well be written in Russian as far as our kids are concerned. Also, they never developed the hand muscles needed to write for extended periods of time. Unfortunately, most high school and college exams are not yet computerized, nor is the writing portion of the SAT, which means keyboard kids are currently at a disadvantage compared to their counterparts who learned to write fluently (and legibly) back in elementary school. Although our kids are masters at keyboarding, they are lost with a pen or pencil in hand. Their brains just aren’t wired for it.

Martha

November 12th, 2012
8:25 am

Yes, kids today need to be taught cursive. Are they going to print their names on legal documents? Someone has already touched on a couple of problems–1. the students’ printing is nearly illegible and 2. the need for keyboarding. If teachers/school systems would quit shoving all these “wonderful” software programs down the students’ throats, perhaps the students would not have such horrible habits before keyboarding is taught. Teach keyboarding, yes! But teach it to an age that can master keyboarding, not just pick and peck around. Count the keyboarding grade, just as Language Arts and Math grades are counted. Why have a teacher teach and a child sit in a classroom trying to learn keyboarding and then not count the grade? Why would 99% of the kids try to correctly learn this valuable skill? They don’t. If it “doesn’t count,” the kids and the parents do not see the importance.

27 year MS teacher

November 12th, 2012
8:32 am

Cursive instruction should have never been removed from the curriculum. Not only is there a disconnect in the ability to read and write in cursive, but the increasing fascination with typing, texting, and spell check to save time has also created a generation of learners unable to spell and create coherent sentences.

Parent

November 12th, 2012
8:33 am

I think that students should at least know how to make their signature in cursive. Writig it? No, I think it is outmoded and a waste of time. READING it is another story. There are numerous historical and court documents that are written in cursive and are not “translated”. Even though I was taught writing cursive, reading some of these old documents is a strain. And what about different styles of cursive? How about the ones where an S looks like a F that extends below the line?

malleesmom

November 12th, 2012
8:36 am

I agree w/ Martha’s comment. Cursive still has value. Keyboarding can come later. Didn’t we cover this topic a year or two ago?

Football Widow

November 12th, 2012
8:41 am

Handwriting practice books are sold at Sams, Walmart, and countless other stores. What’s wrong with teaching your child at home? I do not rely on the school system to teach my child everything, like etiquette, proper posture, or nutrition. If you sit down with your child for 30 minutes a day and teach them handwriting, they’ll get it in less than a year.

Zinna

November 12th, 2012
8:56 am

@MattSpeaks

HILARIOUS!

Frederick Douglass

November 12th, 2012
8:57 am

My brother wrote a kid a check for cutting the church’s grass back in the summer, the young man asked him to void the check because it was written in cursive, and he couldn’t read it.

Zinna

November 12th, 2012
8:58 am

Football Widow
Guess what? You better not rely on the school to teach your child a WHOLE LOT MORE than etiquette and nutrition, etc. Sadly, schools only supplement teaching at home.

Voice of Reason

November 12th, 2012
9:05 am

Does anyone remember D’Nealian? I remember learning D’Nealian in Cobb County as it was supposed to help with the transition to writing in cursive. Had to have special paper to write in D’Nealian.

Seriously though, other than signing your name, why would one need to hand write anything anymore? Cursive was designed to help you write faster, you can’t get much faster than typing on a keyboard.

/Outlived its usefulness, Cursive has. Yes.

Old School

November 12th, 2012
9:10 am

Kids definitely should be taught cursive writing. Right after abacus and slide rule instruction. They’ll need it at the buggy whip factory.

Chaos

November 12th, 2012
9:12 am

I’m still pissed they don’t teach Latin anymore. Et tu, cursive, et tu?

I also remember when they told me I couldn’t use a calculator to do math in the real world….LIES! ALL LIES!!!!!

DONNAN OF A NEW ERA

November 12th, 2012
9:17 am

Public education is a total joke. Most kids, nationally, can’t even read and write yet alone do cursive.

DONNAN OF A NEW ERA

November 12th, 2012
9:18 am

“Even though I was taught writing cursive, reading some of these old documents is a strain.”

If you can’t read cursive writing then you have bigger problems.

motherjanegoose

November 12th, 2012
9:19 am

@ Zinna…since teachers now have to teach teeth brushing, hand washing, covering your mouth when you sneeze, shoe tying ( velcro is so much easier for parents), respect, situational awareness, nutrition, manners etc. they are running out of hours in the day. I have heard this called a CONSTIPATED CURRICULUM: more tasks go in and none are eliminated. Parents should be their child’s first teacher but many are not up to the task. If parents taught their children the things I mentioned above, the teachers could do so much more.

I never cared for D’Nelian. I am old school Zane Bloser. I agree that LOTS of time is wasted on cursive instruction but also wonder how children will read documents that are written in cursive and how will you develop your own signature? Will a printed signature count? I have asked a lot of teachers about this and still have no answer.

motherjanegoose

November 12th, 2012
9:24 am

@ Chaos…they teach Latin here in Gwinnett County GA. Both of mine found it useful on the SAT test and they both also took Spanish. Where are you?

@ Donnan…not all cursive looks the same…some handwriting I cannot read and I am a teacher. That word is ILLEGIBLE: not clear enough to be read. Some people have a loopy and twirly hand and some is just sloppy.

Zinna

November 12th, 2012
9:26 am

@Donnan ~Most kids, nationally, can’t even read and write yet alone do cursive.

Or, evidently, use punctuation.

Chaos

November 12th, 2012
9:28 am

Latin is considered extra-curricular. A dead language. You can take it as your language of choice in high school, but unless you plan on going into the medical field, or be a chemist, the interest is relatively low.

guest

November 12th, 2012
9:34 am

Here’s an idea. Why don’t we go ahead and remove the requirement to learn math, spelling, etc while we’re at it. Let’s continue to dumb down the kids. And we wonder why our society continues to get dumber and dumber. Good grief.

jarvis

November 12th, 2012
9:36 am

@TWG, Mrs. Reddick was also my 3rd Grade teacher. I ran into her at Northside Hospital about 8 years when my first child was being born.

She remembered me without me introducing myself…..she looked exactly the same. It was crazy. She still looked 30.

DONNAN OF A NEW ERA

November 12th, 2012
9:42 am

“not all cursive looks the same

Never said it did.

jarvis

November 12th, 2012
9:42 am

@guest, cursive makes you smart? I’ve known many dumb people that could write. I wasn’t aware it was an intelligence differentiator.

For the record, I think teaching it is OK, but I remember it taking up a huge chunk of time in primary school. It does seem like other things probably need to take priority. 2nd grade seemed pretty fluffly….maybe that would be a better grade for it than third.

DONNAN OF A NEW ERA

November 12th, 2012
9:43 am

“Or, evidently, use punctuation.”

Then again, this is a blog.

DONNAN OF A NEW ERA

November 12th, 2012
9:46 am

“Why don’t we go ahead and remove the requirement to learn math, spelling, etc while we’re at it.”

That’s already happening. I went to a retail store a few weeks ago. An employee entered my purchase and when I handed her a 20% off coupon, it wouldn’t scan. Instead of using common sense to take the 20% off the purchase, she had to call up her manager to explain how to take 20% off the purchase.

DONNAN OF A NEW ERA

November 12th, 2012
9:47 am

“Sadly, schools only supplement teaching at home.”

Not meant to be a factual statement.

Zinna

November 12th, 2012
9:50 am

“Sadly, schools only supplement teaching at home.”

Meant as a factual statement.

jarvis

November 12th, 2012
9:51 am

As an FYI, the national literacy rate is 99%.

Chaos

November 12th, 2012
9:52 am

20% is easy, 15% is a pain in the arse.

motherjanegoose

November 12th, 2012
9:56 am

@ DONNAN…my point was that fonts are somewhat consistent. If you cannot read someone’s handwriting ( to me) this does not mean you have bigger problems but perhaps their handwriting is illegible. This is similar to being able to understand people who are supposedly speaking English. I cannot understand some lyrics on the radio or CD of those who are parked next to me at the intersection with their speakers blaring. Perhaps I am the only one.

I do agree with the math skills at the check out. Try handing a clerk $20.06 if the purchase is $16.46. MOST have no idea what to do. Long hand and long math skills are almost gone!

@ jarvis…I recently ran into a Kinder teacher whom I had ( as a student) in Kinder. I recognized her and it took me a minute to remember her name but I did. Too funny. It was so nice to see her! She did not recognize me at first, since I was in one of my costumes and not my $800 suit and $200 shoes.

DONNAN OF A NEW ERA

November 12th, 2012
9:56 am

“Meant as a factual statement.”

Try again, ma’am.

DONNAN OF A NEW ERA

November 12th, 2012
9:57 am

motherjanegoose

Ok.

jarvis

November 12th, 2012
9:59 am

Haha….MJG. Godo for you. I’m sure your student appreciated that.
It meant a lot to me that she remembered my name. At that time, it had been 20 years since 3rd grade.

homeschooler

November 12th, 2012
10:00 am

Montessori schools teach cursive first. I always loved this idea. Developmentally it is easier and more natural for kids to write in curves than straight lines.

jarvis

November 12th, 2012
10:01 am

good not godo….

motherjanegoose

November 12th, 2012
10:05 am

I was wondering what godo meant…thought I might need to add it to the ever growing list of things I DO NOT KNOW. HAHA! Off to the kids…have a nice day all!

guest

November 12th, 2012
10:13 am

Jarvis,

It starts with removing “small” things like cursive and escalates to more important things later.

OK, who forgot...

November 12th, 2012
10:13 am

…to set the blog’s clock forward last week? Probably some techie who cannot do cursive writing…

OK, who forgot...

November 12th, 2012
10:14 am

oops – “clock back” – see, I cannot do cursive , either…

malleesmom

November 12th, 2012
10:19 am

@MJG – you hit the nail on the head; long-hand and long math skills are sadly gone. People need basic skills for when technology fails. I love watching people struggle to make change when their precious keyboarding skills fail. Ever watch people come apart when they have to hand-write a receipt or other documentation. Say what you want about education, basic skills still matter. Teach them at home, at school, doesn’t matter as long as they’re taught.

jarvis

November 12th, 2012
10:26 am

@guest, would you not agree that more important things have arisen than when we were children? For instance, don’t you think that it is more important for a child to practice computer literacy than cursive?

I remember “diagramming sentences” (is that the right term?) in 7th grade for hours on end. This was a total waste of time in my opinion. Learning the parts of speech is important, but I remember getting marked off because I drew a diagonal line in the wrong direction when separating a linking verb from the subject. Apparently it needed to go the other way because it was a standard line. I’m sure at some point that sort of thing seemed important, but over time it gave way to new world skills.

I agree that you don’t want to lose all of the culture of the past (which is what cursive really is), but it has to be put into perspective with how much time it takes, and what the trade off is for classroom time.

Voice of Reason

November 12th, 2012
10:37 am

@Guest

It’s called innovation. It’s how you compete. It’s getting rid of old, obsolete ideas and traditions and replacing them with fresh ideas that focus on speed and accuracy.

If you want to continue to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results, that would be the definition of insanity.

PhotoMomof4

November 12th, 2012
10:40 am

Even though some of my children were taught cursive in school, since it wasn’t required past a certain point, it really just didn’t stick. So, when the 16 year old went to get his driver’s license, we realized he needed to learn to actually ’sign’ his name. We just hadn’t thought about it. We won’t make that mistake with the others. However, all of them can read cursive if written legibly. I know I don’t use it anymore unless I am signing my name.

PhotoMomof4

November 12th, 2012
10:42 am

@Jarvis – I remember diagramming sentences and thinking it was the biggest waste of time. Even today, kids are still doing this and I don’t know why.

Techmom

November 12th, 2012
10:46 am

I think it should be taught but not at length. It is still useful though certainly not to the degree that it was prior to the “information age”. My son is senior and rarely hand writes anything. Much like me, he tends to have a bit of a mixture between print and cursive (seriously, who remembers how to write a cursive capital Q and there are way too many humps in a cursive m). As a lefty, he has always struggled with cursive handwriting and therefore tends to use print much more often so that his teachers can read what he has written. Most of his papers have to be turned in typed though so it’s almost irrelevant at this point.
My biggest beef with education is not cursive but rather not teaching word problems in math and embracing them more fully. Too many kids never do word problems and then freak out when they are given one or two to solve. The whole point of word problems is to show application to real-world situations. A lot of students complain about doing algebra or geometry because they’ll “never use it” but the reality is, if they are given word problems, the application to the real world is intrinsic to the problem.