Simanaitis Says

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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 ( 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.

A cursive alphabet.

A cursive alphabet.

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).

To some,

To some, this Declaration of Independence would be as arcane as Sanskrit.

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.

Imagine that.

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.”


A handwriting sample of your author.

I’d guess she’d know.

By contrast, here’s an example of her handwriting.

A sample

A handwriting example of wife Dottie.

Rob Walker, rest his soul, was a Formula 1 privateer and R&T correspondent ( 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.

Rob Walker's printing.

An example of Rob Walker’s handwriting.

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,, 2013

3 comments on “IS CURSIVE DEAD YET?

  1. sabresoftware
    May 2, 2013

    I’m with you and Rob Walker when it comes to handwriting style. I have one fancy, cursive style letter which is an “s” when used in the middle of some words.

  2. Tom Tyson
    May 3, 2013

    My high school drafting classes (back when they used to teach how to design with pencil and paper instead of a computer mouse and screen) put an end to my use of cursive writing, save for my signature scrawl.

  3. Vinny Vidivicchi
    September 18, 2016

    Drafting title blocks taught me how to do neater work without resorting to script, and eventually it became rapid enough to keep up with my thinking.

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This entry was posted on May 2, 2013 by in I Usta be an Editor Y'Know and tagged , .
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