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. Kay Lynch

    Big question, if children are not taught cursive – how are they going to sign their names? Being taught cursive is still a necessity for business, writing checks and buying a house. You need to know how to sign your name.

    July 11, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dave

    This is what happens when we "change" america needs to go back to the basics

    July 11, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sandy

      As a so-called Liberal, I believe we should be teaching our kids more, not less. My son will be learning cursive next year, even if I have to teach him myself. He will also be learning Hebrew. Sheesh, us Liberals!

      July 11, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. PotFace

    I learned cursive in the 4th grade. I learned how to type in the 10th grade. Why can't they do the same? Why does it have to be "one or the other"?

    The fact is, it doesn't. And if you're buying into this crap, maybe it's time for YOU to go back to school.

    July 11, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kim

      Why can't they do the same? Why does it have to be "one or the other"?

      Probably because the teachers have to teach the tests that the children are required to take.
      I teach both high school and at the university. I have to show left handed students how to hold the pen/pencil and write correctly because either their primary writing teacher was right handed, or they were never taught cursive writing. I am right handed, but all one needs must do is look up the correct technique for left-handed penmanship.

      July 11, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Totally_Disgusted

    and we wonder why this country is headed for the trash heap of history.

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

    The continuation of the dumbing down of America and managers wonder why they can't find educated people to do the job required.

    July 11, 2011 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. terhina

    This is are these kids going to sign their signature on basically everything in life when they become adults???

    July 11, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jackie

      Really? Does a name have to written in cursive to be considered a signature? I do not think so!

      July 11, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • mickey1313

      If the only thing that the abusrd amount of time we spend teaching cursive is only about signing ours names, then the country is plain stupid. Cursive is an anacronastic bygone that should have been removed the day we knew that computers were here to stay. And to the lyeing teachers in the article aledging "proof" of a link between cursive and fulid thinking, THEY ARE FLAT LYEING. They say that because the vast majority of teachers are english majors, and cant stand the acidemic snub that what they learned is irrelavant.

      July 11, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cantspellwithoutspellcheck

      In crayon, all CAPITAL L3TT3RS.
      Hey... I can write secret love messages to my wife and my teenager wont know what I said. Like a secret code, only written in plain English, because he is to damn stupid to read it.
      Welcome to the dumbing down of America, little by little, brick by brick, the foundation of our free country is sold wholesale by those in Washington poised to profit by our destruction. Stupid people are easier to rule, it is not a secret. Allot of money is also to be made on the road to ruin. The Nazi's could tell you that.

      July 11, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cantspellwithoutspellcheck

      mickey1313: They say that because the vast majority of teachers are english majors, and cant stand the acidemic snub that what they learned is irrelavant.

      Sounds like statement from a generally ignorant individual. ANY knowledge gained in life is not irrelevant. Please also do us a favor, if you are going to call English irrelevant, learn HOW TO SPELL IRRELEVANT. (spellcheck dude)
      Sir, you are the problem with this country, you embody it. I'm sure the same type of fallacious thinking demonstrated by your above mentioned comment allows you to think the same thing of higher math, chemistry and engineering. When was the last time you used Algebra? Geometry? Trig? Should we rid ourselves of these as well because your logical fallacy deemed it irrelevant??? Lucky for us, you hold no power. Unluckily for us, others like you do, like the Indiana Department of Education.
      Whilst I may not work for DuPont as a chemist, nor for NASA as a project engineer, the knowledge I gained by being exposed to these fields has helped me in many parts of my adult life.

      July 11, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • bosko

      Using cursive is like using a stylus and clay pad or chalk and slate - it's a waste of time. Why don't we teach all kids to ride horses.or winnow grain. Children need to learn useful contemporary skills, not outdated krap.

      July 11, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. notfromfla

    The loss of penmanship will stifle creativity and broaden illiteracy.

    July 11, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • mickey1313

      sorry no, kids can still write, and type. Do you know anyone (under the age of 50) that does personal notes, brainstorming ect, in cursive, i bet not. Doing something because it has always been done, is no reason to do something.

      July 11, 2011 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • indiana texter

      Oh, as if anyone can read another person's cursive writing scrawls!!

      July 11, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jake

    The reason for teaching typing early rather than cursive is to make up for the huge gap that the upper income kids have over the lower income kids. Middle class kids are coming into Kindergarten with excellent computer skills, they are very adept at technology. Certainly teachers are going to be focused on getting the kids from lower income families caught up to those skills. The longer they wait, the bigger the gap.

    My 4 & 5 year old kids can already type well. They can navigate the internet, they can send basic emails to their grandparents. They're not even in kindergarten yet. My son can search Youtube for his favorite videos. This is not unusual with kids who've grown up in front of a laptop or using Mom's iPad. Now compare that to the kids who've never seen a computer before going to school. They're at a huge disadvantage. There's only so much time in the day to teach- so what's more important- cursive or typing. What will get kids ahead faster? Being able to type well or sign your name?

    July 11, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      Growing up, most kids are required to take computer classes. I think cursive is typically taught in an English class. They should have time to learn both, and those children deserve teachers that don't want to half-a$$ it. If they already know how to print letters, then comprehending the individual letter keys on a keyboard will be easier than recognizing cursive. What is so wrong with having the opportunity to learn both? Parents and students shouldn't have to choose.

      July 11, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • mickey1313

      sarah, do you know how many kids are in the average classroom? do you know the teachers average pay. They are not wizards, they need to pick and choose. Cursive is hard when the whole class has already mastered english. When 1/2 the class "no habla" then what are you to do. Ill tell you, spend more time on true english and less time on cligerfy (cursive)

      July 11, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • jack

      So upper income children don't write cursively?

      July 11, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Joyce McNamara

    The elimination of cursive writing will have detrimental effects throughout the curriculum. My 4 children, schooled in a very affluent, suburban school distritct were the first recipeints of this educational experiment. My daughter was already in middle school, unaffected by the change, however, my 3 sons were not given the opportunity to learn or practice cursive. I protested to the administration, principal and 3rd/4th grade teachers without success. To date, my sons have difficulty at the high school and college level with note taking, It is faster and more efficient to write in cursive than to attempt to take notes in a printing format. In addition, they can not read cursive. There also seems to be a connection when placing a pen in hand and writing......the ideas seem to flow better. This does not seem to happen with printing. My sons were denied a basic and fundamental component of education. The so called "educators" that decided this was in my childrens best interest.............well, they can write in cursive. My sons can not!

    July 11, 2011 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Leana

      Why would you place all the blame on the teachers, they are doing what they are told- their job... You seem to have not done your job, you are your children's first teacher (and should be primary teacher.) Here is a crazy idea- teach your OWN kids how to write in cursive if you think it is so important.

      July 11, 2011 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • mickey1313

      Then why didnt you do YOUR JOB as a parent, and teach your childeren the emportant things you believe they need. Be glad that your kids get free education in an afluent neiborhood.

      July 11, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sarah

    Why ban cursive if its not that hard to learn? All children should learn to write in as many ways possible, including different languages. Its easier for a child to learn different languages than it is for an adult. When someone writes something in cursive and those kids cannot understand it, I suppose they'll at least know who to blame.

    July 11, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • mickey1313

      Should? that is YOUR openion. If you want to have your kids learn all of that, then WHY CANT YOU TEACH THEM.

      July 11, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sonshi

    Wow, I'm pretty amazed at the defense of cursive. I hated it as a kid, and quickly turned to printing all caps [with larger print for 'capitalized' letters]. Everyone can read it. . .even when I write fast, the letters don't deliberately touch as they do with cursive. The computer even scans and recognizes it just fine.

    A lot of people harp on the whole importance of cursive only as it relates to a signature. Really? We need that many hours of instruction, teaching a specific way of writing. . .just so we can learn to sign our name? Even signing my name in all caps, I challenge anyone to duplicate it.
    Many cursive signatures I see nowadays are little more than a wavy line anyway.

    I'm also a little cursive-worn because I am a pharmacist. A certain percentage of our day is spent interpreting everyone's own interpretation of cursive, and there is definitely a health care cost associated with it. Time we spend on the phone, doctor's time clarifying, patients' time waiting. If 'teaching cursive' is an attempt to standardize the no-pen-lifting way of writing, the system has failed miserably. Everyone has their own version that they've developed over their lives, and the same process would happen if we just taught printing. But my own opinion is that the end result would be better overall.

    July 11, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • mickey1313

      I am a pharmacy tech, and I agree, the terible handwriting in the medical profession is a great reason to ban cursive, (and make nurses and doctors take classes that they must pass to be liscenced.

      July 11, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Lisa thompson

    Not a good idea. Almost 9 years ago when my son was in 6th grade his school did a laptop immersion; spelling words were practiced on the computers instead of written by hand. End of the year spelling scores on standardized tests plummeted; so the following year while using computers for some subjects, the students went back to doing spelling homework by hand and scores went back up. There must be a connection between spelling in the brain and the process of the hand movement to write the words,

    July 11, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  13. kh

    I have to disagree, based on gut feelings and my own experience. Cursive writing came about as a way to write faster when writing by hand was the only way. To me that doesn't suggest that it has any correlation to the ability to express oneself through writing. I think I'm at least an average writer and I've always had bad handwriting.

    July 11, 2011 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jack

    I don't understand what these digital skills are that need honing? If anything these children are already exposed excessively to a digital world. Learning to write cursively is learned quickly and doesn't need to be constantly reinforced. what do you do if you don't have a computer? Cursive writing is a quick and natural way to write. I would die if I had to write block letters for everything.

    July 11, 2011 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • mickey1313

      So, are you the only strait man in america with that openion, YES

      July 11, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jack

    When I was in school, I learned to type and write cursively. Wow, 2 different forms of writing. Am I a genius?

    July 11, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • mickey1313

      you probibly did that in a class that was all (or mostly) english speaking didnt you? Now adays, there are no classrooms where the studenta are all english natives, so more time is spent with the learning of language and not cursive. If you want your kids to learn it, then teach them. It is not the schools job to teach every single thing you think your kid might need to know.

      July 11, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
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