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. k

    mom...what's a pencil?

    First art, then sports, now we're cutting out handwriting?...what's next math?...I mean really who needs arithmetic when we all have pocket computers. After all it's so much better to spend that time learning to be politically correct.

    July 11, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Brenda

    Something has to give and given the obsolescence of cursive writing, it seems to me that this is a good decision. Our systems are maxed out and we need to start making good (time value of money) decisions that ease up on already maxed out teachers. Let private schools teach cursive and fencing. We just need to focus on the basics and not spend hours and hours on cursive. Seriously.

    July 11, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. D

    I learned cursive in 4th grade and have yet to use it. Anything that you can write in cursive can also be written in print. Every job I've ever had has revolved around computer skills. Not my ability to hand write. :O Even if you do have to hand write something NO employer would EVER want this in cursive. Nor would college teachers. 😛 There is no reason to write in cursive other than its "Pretty".

    July 11, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jesse

    Cursive is completely useless... I mean I was tought it in school but never actually use it. Just a waste of time that they can be teaching useful knowledge.

    July 11, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Deb

    OH COME ON!!! Digital, schmigital! We didn't have a computer until I was 12 and cell phones were still a big blob in the middle of a car console. I'm quite literate in both. I learned how to write in cursive in the THIRD GRADE. Bad excuse, and DUMB idea, Indiana. So what happens in the future when there is no electricity due to a natural disaster or terrorist attack? Bunch of dummies running around without their gadgets, totally dependant upon the few at the top who can still communicate without them.

    July 11, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • jimmy d.

      natural disaster or terrorist attack? yes, but what about the "zombie apocalypse"??? just in case, i have two slide rule calculators and have taught myself how to use them......

      July 11, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • yannaes

      born 1943..didn't know one thing about a computer..have a computer, cell phone, Ipod, Ipad, in fact did not have a t.v. until I was 12 years an adult taught for 34 years.
      Found that most of the students did not know how to think outside of the box and be creative and use imagination. I would listen to the radio and picture I was there, used a slide-rule for calculus, learned and studied Latin, and wrote in cursive. Spent hours practicing my cursive and did not have a calculator and got through calculus.
      Bottom line for is great all these tools are

      July 11, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • JCampb

      @ yannaes: If you have no computer or cell phone how are you posting in this thread.

      July 11, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • joe

      i can't tell if you are being sarcastic. what happens if they cannot use their gadgets? Well, I suppose they'd have to resort to writing on paper (in normal letters, not cursive). Your point?

      July 11, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Another John

    Artists would suffer greatly if cursive were not taught to students. The need to learn to use curves in writing and drawing as well as to manually express oneself that way when writing a poem, letter or song lyrics develops manual dexterity skills that can't be had by a printing only sort of written experience. I would imagine that cursive writing had something to do with the founding of our country, USA) but today, fontology seems to be the trend.
    In terms of opinions given above though, I agree that adaptive learning and technology has a long way to go before humans are basically replaced by machines to the extent that anything that we do as people could be done cheaper, faster and easier by a machine. I, Robot by Issac Asimov is a very disorienting and a somewhat depressing novel, as well as an entertaining, though cryptic sort of new type of techno "film-noir".

    July 11, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. rowan

    bush would be proud!! the next step in the dumbing down of america. teacher lay offs pay freezes. closing schools. and the patriot act takes more and more freedoms of this nations people. when you have people with no rights and are not educated what do you call them? slaves.

    July 11, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Captain Underpants

      The irony of your post made my day.

      July 11, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • JCampb


      July 11, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Brian

    Cursive is outdated anyways. But the real problem, is if you want to teach them cursive you have to have these kids continue to use it even past elementary school.
    I was taught cursive in the 3rd grade and used it all the way to the 6th grade. As soon as I entered middle school, never used it again. And as of now, can't even remember how to use it again.

    July 11, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      cursive is outdated? How is it outdated at all? I use it every day at work, and almost every day at home. And I'm 26, so it's not just a relic from the past. It lets you write faster and more legibly, and gives a greater connection between what you write and what your brain remembers. getting rid of cursive is just going to make already bad American schools even worse.

      July 11, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dan B

    As I recall, my teachers in second and third grade devoted a lot of class time to teaching us cursive, and we were expected to write only in cursive for the rest of elementary school. After that, teachers just asked us to write in whatever way was most legible. I was among those who reverted back to print. Perhaps if I had stuck with script, I might have gotten one more question right on the english portion of the SATs, but only the one. Even after all those years of printing, I managed to get all the others correct.

    I'm willing to believe that there may be some developmental benefit to cursive, but the question remains whether that benefit is really enough to justify spending all that class time just to teach kids a skill that nobody has any use for these days. By all means, teach kids writing, spelling, and grammar, teach them math and science, teach them art. What I can't see the sense in is teaching them cursive, on the assumption that it helps to develop the same skills they'd build while learning those subjects. Teaching cursive doesn't produce solid writing abilities, teaching writing does.

    July 11, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rev. Mike

    To write cursive one must know hoe to read! Since most of are students can't! What's the need to learn it? Best to teach then Chinese so they can talk to their soon to be masters!

    July 11, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • JCampb


      July 11, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • AllAboutThe80's

      I agree with you Rev. Mike. They wouldn't know what to use cursive for anyway....Other than writing LOL or LMAO etc do kids write otherwise? We have generations of kids with no creativity due to the instant gratification of electronic media. They are obsessed with mindless chatter on social networks and are busy texting away but say absolutely nothing at the end of the day. Ending cursive writing in schools is not even the tip of the iceburg. Children don't know where to go for information other than the internet and as convenient as it is to have it at your fingertips they lose their ability to research anything. Take their phones and computers away and they haven't a clue where to start. I firmly believe in being well-rounded and the focus today is 100% on technology. Where did the creativity go?

      July 11, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Quit The Hate

      hoe to read? You REALLY should check your spelling when you are making snarky comments about someone not knowing how to read, then misspell half the words. And BTW, if greedy US companies didn't move all our jobs to China and create this unemployment fiasco then we wouldn't be in this mess. Our companies just wanted to get even richer, they could care less that they are destroying our economy. Don't blame China for being successful. We handed it to them on a silver plate.

      July 11, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • momof2

      your post would be a lot more persuasive if you knew the difference between are and our. That's 3rd or 4th grade level English.

      July 11, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Heather

    People complained that no child could be considered educated without learning Latin not so very long ago. Same for learning to use a slide rule. And how on earth have we progressed technologically without training in calligraphy?! Most people do have a hard time letting go of old ways even when they are obsolete.

    I saw the death of cursive coming years ago. It will eventually be one of those quaint old arts that some people pick up as a hobby.

    July 11, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • JCampb

      I was forced to learn how to use a slide rule in the 9th grade. I'm now 46 and haven't touched a slide rule since I was subjected to it that year.. Cursive is an outdated idea, I don't use cursive nor do I care if anyone else does. Printing is much more legible overall. I have never been in a situation as an adult in which my knowledge of how to make a cursive "z" was integral.

      July 11, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • gotacomment

      Thanks to three years of high school Latin and a teacher who thought etymology was as much a part of learning the language as grammar and vocabulary, I aced the verbals on the SATs. Today I'm the editor of a weekly newspaper and thanks to the Latin teacher I never use a word that doesn't say exactly what I mean. (Latin grammar is also a good guide to constructing coherent sentences in English.) Latin also makes the study of the romance languages easier. There's every good reason for keeping it in a curriculum and no sensible reason for throwing it out. We also did our homework and took our tests in cursive. Cursive creates a relationship between hand and brain that facilitates intellectual development. I also would consider it the height of rudeness to send a thank-you or condolence note by e-mail. If my handwriting was too poor to make writing possible, i would practice until I could produce a suitable. legible specimen. Learning something will never hurt you.

      July 11, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dana

    How will people write love letters? How will they sign a marriage license? How will they sign their name?
    Big writing is such an art...even signing our names is an expression of who we are.

    July 11, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Curs...ive

    "I need you to sign this form."

    "Im sorry, I can only print my name."


    July 11, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • AllAboutThe80's


      July 11, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JCampb

    Just because you don't learn cursive doesn't mean you won't be able to sign your name. How many legible signatures do you see?

    July 11, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. cooper49

    Parents better start teaching at home. Todays teens can't read, spell, don't have any grammer skills and can't make change. Now they won't be able to write. What are they teaching in school?

    July 11, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
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