Educators warn of negative effects of not teaching cursive in schools
Lauren Sanchez teaches cursive writing to third graders at St. Francis Xavier Elementary School in Burbank, California.
July 8th, 2011
09:34 PM ET

Educators warn of negative effects of not teaching cursive in schools

Handwriting experts and educators worry that Indiana's choice to stop teaching cursive in schools could negatively affect a child's ability to learn.

The Indiana Department of Education joined 39 other states in adopting the Common Core curriculum, an initiative to phase out cursive writing in classrooms in favor of providing students more time to hone digital skills.

But some believe the move could adversely affect children.

"The fluidity of cursive allows, I think, for gains in spelling and a better tie to what they are reading and comprehending through stories and such and through literature," said Paul Sullivan, principal of St. Francis Xavier Elementary School in Burbank, California.

"I think there’s a firmer connection of wiring between the brain’s processes of learning these skills and the actual practice of writing."

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Filed under: Education • Indiana
soundoff (283 Responses)
  1. Garrett and Preston's dad in NPhx

    My two boys will know more than me- not less. My five year old will begin kindergarten in a few weeks with the ability to read and write. We have already taught him to print all letters with proper form so his cursive will be proliferated with greater ease. We do not waste time with mass media exposure to our family (no tv on purpose). It dummies up America. Looks like we will probably be looking to fire the lazy public educational system for the same reason.

    July 11, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bud Ebsen

    We see here the deliberate dumbing down of America in order to relegate it to a 3rd World country. Just another step, such as the elimination of industry and the out sourcing of jobs and the allowing of both illegals and immigrates who want the destruction of America as it is. Those against cursive are not our friends.

    July 11, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. win

    Cursive used to be taught before manuscript. You can learn manuscript much easier once you know cursive then the other way around (if you have an actual need to learn manuscript). In truth it would be better to drop manuscript and teach cursive rather then drop cursive.

    July 11, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Nicole Erin Robitaille

    Funny that Mickey spells every 3rd word wrong...

    July 11, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. eb63

    to mickey1313 –
    If you want to defend your opinions you should, at the very least, use correct spelling. Using correct punctuation can also lend to your credibility. For the record, the word is spelled "calligraphy" NOT "cligerfy".

    July 11, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Andrew

    I was taught cursive in third grade....the only thing I kept from that experience was how to write my name in cursive, the rest I forgot. I feel it was a pointless skill to learn. I could already write in print at the time so why do I have to learn another form of writing? Also I had difficulties with writing from the start....throwing cursive into the equation was like throwing gas onto the fire. I had such a difficult time just writing legibly in print; I have Aspergers syndrome and have problems with fine-motor skills. My writing has gotten better over time but sometimes even I have difficulties reading what I wrote sometimes. I am so glad computers were introduced when they were.

    Full-time College student
    Major: International Studies
    Emphasis: Public Diplomacy.
    Age: 22

    July 11, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sid

      Pointless skill – kind of like math, right? When adults – please sign your name here? Huh, can I text it to you. I can't write.... Will an "x" do?

      America getting dumber and dumber by the day and it started in of all places, Indiana.

      July 13, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • eva68

      I don't agree with Sid on the dumber part when it comes to this Things are changing and people can't take change. They refuse to accept that something new could be as good as the old. Not all new things are as good as the old I didn't say that, but if we kept ALL old things we would still be writing calligraphy style or in Hebrew. Would that make us smarter?
      . Why does a signature have to be a cursive? Why? I can write beautifully either way but there is not a point actually. Printing your name can still be your signature. Go ahead, say someone could forge my name but I got news for you mainly computers look at numbers now, they could care less about signatures. Most forged checks are not even a name just some sort of scribbles and it goes through fine. A crook doesn't even have to try to fool anybody, but I have another thought on this matter. Pretty soon all signatures will be electronic as with other information.
      Cursive or print is not a necessary distinction, it is the knowledge of language that matters.

      July 16, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. julie

    I think that by not teaching cursive they are leaving students partially illiterate. There is no excuse not to teach children how to write in cursive, I learned everything I needed to know to attend a good college and get a great job while still fitting in the ability to write in cursive. This is insane laziness on the part of educators. Some kids cursive isn't perfect but it's still something they should know. I'm not great at science but that doesn't mean I shouldnt have had the chance to learn.

    July 12, 2011 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
    • LilyHaze

      Good for you.
      Now, welcome to the technical era, where cursive is an outdated learning tool. Used in next to nothing, cursive is much less useful than digital know-how.

      July 12, 2011 at 4:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Luke

      Cursive is fine to learn if there is enough time to do so. But with the advent of digital technology cursive is a luxury. Imagine you are given the choice between learning typing and cursive. Think of how often you need to write in cursive (which in my case, is never except signing my name) and then think of how often you type (in both of our cases, we did it at least once today in order to leave our comments). Now think of how poor our country is currently in math and science... two subjects that are necessary to get to, and to graduate from college. Now think of how fat our country is becoming. How important is cursive now.

      Cursive takes too long to teach. If you want to teach your children cursive yourself, please go right ahead and do so. But I don't think it is a responsible allocation of resources to spend that much time on a skill that no one even uses.

      July 12, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Angie

    This is clearly an editorial piece. Where is the interview from someone on the Indiana Board of Education? Where is the interview with a 4th or 5th grade public school teacher? The fact is most schools teach modified print now which allows most children to transition to cursive easily in 3rd grade. And the professor from Vanderbilt who he quotes freely acknowledges that typing improves kids writing and has promoted a balanced teaching approach to writing. This writer is either promoting his own opinion by sharing only one side of the story, or he isn't a very good journalist.

    July 12, 2011 at 4:02 am | Report abuse |
  9. Walter Ian Kaye

    Crazy. What's next on the chopping block, long division?

    July 12, 2011 at 6:22 am | Report abuse |
  10. Chelley

    Here's a thought for those of you calling it laziness on the part of the educators: why don't parents take some initiative and teach it to their children themselves? Perhaps it's laziness on the part of the parents. Do you have any clue as to what teachers are responsible for as it is?

    July 12, 2011 at 7:28 am | Report abuse |
  11. altheajj

    Although a school district might teach cursive in the 3rd grade, most kids, after 'learning' it, are never required to use it again in the course of their education. So unless they use it, there is no sense in teaching it as by 5th grade the kids have forgotten it.

    July 12, 2011 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  12. bezerkur

    why not just make it a choice on a individual basis like a elective. reseach the origins of cursive and u'll find it was first introduced by aristocrats to define their so called superior intellect in their 'superior' private schools for the wealthy. society is completly different now with the digital era. soon we wont b using signitures anyway. the way big brother is progressing we'll soon b using thumb prints or a d.n.a scanner. in 100 years or so we'll all b like some kind of cyborgs if things dont change.

    July 12, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  13. Tammy

    Instead of ditching cursive it should be taught first. Studies show that those who learn print first have a hard time reading cursive and italic writing but those who learn cursive have no trouble reading print. Cursive was always taught first until they started introducing whole word language and going away from teaching a phonics based lanuage with phonics (go figure). Since then reading and spelling have sunk to huge lows. True phonics AND Cursive force you into a left to right pattern, it actually ELIMINATES Dyslexia. Cursive is more natural and easier for young children to learn as well. If you'll notice, children begin drawing in swirls and cirlcels, not straight lines and boxes. In addition, teaching print first and then transitioning in the elementary grades causes problems as well. Children and teachers now have to stop the learning of other topics in order to relearn a new way to write. Something not needed if cursive is taught first...printing actually follows much easier and frees up the brain for higher learning. Eliminate Cursive? Absolutely not, teach it first and along with true phonics and almost all learning disabilities will disappear. Unfortunately there are too many "jobs" that hang in the balance if we solve or cure learning disabilities. All this will do is create more people who cannot communicate effectively.

    July 12, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elaine AHERN

      Cursive does not eliminate dyslexia. Cursive has never been taught first. Have you ever seen a 5 or 6 year old write in cursive?

      July 12, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kate Gladstone

      If cursive eliminates dyslexia, why am I hearing from so many parents of dyslexic kids and teens in "cursive-first" home schools and private schools? (I'm a handwriting instruction specialist.) Dyslexia runs in my family, and my father and grandma (who went to cursive-first schools) still had what we now call dyslexia (it just didn't have a name then, but they had it all their lives, as severely as anyone in the younger generations).

      July 13, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mayflower

      Tammy, I agree with you completely on teaching phonics over whole word learning. It's a joke to teach kids a word if they don't know how the rules to read that word work first. I disagree about teaching cursive first, however. Teaching cursive in 2nd and 3rd makes sense because they are truly learning to integrate what they are reading, and the slow, focused pace of learning cursive should help integrate what they read at the level a little better.

      July 14, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  14. Malcolm Matthews

    Let's be careful. We tend to think, "I learned cursive, and now I'm happy and successful." But correlation doesn't imply causation. Being taught cursive writing doesn't hurt, but it doesn't really help either. And that makes it expendable. Arguments in favor of cursive writing tend to be based more on nostalgia than on science or practicality. Any minor/subtle benefits teaching and learning cursive writing may have are certainly trumped by the much more immediate benefits of teaching and learning more relevant computer skills, for example. Yes – it wouldn't hurt for my kids to learn how to write in cursive, change a typewriter ribbon, or use a slide-rule, but I'm sure there are much more productive ways for them to spend their time in school.

    July 12, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. lisa

    Cursive expands the mind and developes areas of thought which is not cultivated with block letters. What a waste to not teach our kids all they can learn! It's a crying shame!

    July 12, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Luke

      If a parent thinks cursive is so important to the mind of their children, then they can teach them cursive after school

      July 12, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kate Gladstone

      Are you asserting that cursive makes you smarter? Offer some proof, please. (By the way, you misspell "develop.")

      July 13, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
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