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THERE’S GOOD controversy going on about cursive handwriting, also known as script, the kind in which letters of each word flow one to another. Is it of any use today? Should kids be taught it? Is it already a goner?
Recent articles in The New York Times (http://goo.gl/Y9chx) discussed aspects of this. In fact, if you Google “cursive dead yet?,” you’ll see the breadth of opinions on the matter. Leave off the “?,” and you get a somewhat different sampling. Here, I summarize what I’ve gleaned and offer examples of my handwriting, wife Dottie’s and the late Rob Walker’s.
The Common Core State Standards, a set of national recommendations for American schools, do not require cursive instruction. Some states, Indiana among them, have already taken it off the elementary curriculum.
Yet, on April 25, 2013, the North Carolina Senate passed a bill, 38-7, requiring cursive to be taught. The bill also requires memorization of multiplication tables. (Hurrah!) The North Carolina House of Representatives passed an identical bill unanimously. The two require only legislative reconciliation before being sent to the governor for his signature.
The arguments for knowing cursive vary from heritage (how else to read our Declaration of Independence or Auntie Maud’s letters?) to child psychology (developing fine motor skills and an aesthetic sense).
On a practical note, some say cursive is not as easy to forge as printing. Others argue that kids adopt and retain recognizable characteristics in writing either form.
Arguments against cursive tend toward 21st Century logic: Why waste time teaching an archaic art form? Kids need to know how to use keypads, keyboards and the like. There are even chary types who claim pro-cursives are being pushed by publishers of cursive curricula.
Add to this discussion the multiplicity of typefaces available with any word processor software.
It turns out I’ve been writing what’s called “hybrid cursive” all my life. As shown below, this is characterized by connecting some letter combinations while printing the others. Years ago, when wife Dottie first saw my handwriting, she advised me that its style was “the sign of a deranged mind.”
I’d guess she’d know.
By contrast, here’s an example of her handwriting.
Rob Walker, rest his soul, was a Formula 1 privateer and R&T correspondent (www.wp.me/p2ETap-jU). He once told me that he resisted all attempts to teach him cursive—and this was back when English education stressed penmanship of classic script. Rob could read cursive, but he never used it himself.
Nor did Rob ever type his F1 reports. In fact, I don’t recall ever receiving anything from him that wasn’t in his precise printing.
Rob would be amused by these 21st Century debates. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2013