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Has cursive seen the writing on the wall?

Oct. 18, 2011 at 8:30 AM ET

If you were asked to quickly jot down a grocery list, would you type it into your smartphone? Or print it? Or use cursive writing?

Assuming you’re a fan of pen/paper, logic would dictate you’d use the fastest, easiest method possible. That’s cursive. It flows from letter to letter, it bounces from word to word, it dances from thought to thought.

So why do most of us end up printing (or using some form of barely legible block letters)?  Because we, my friends, have reached the beginning of the end of cursive handwriting.

Computers in the classroom have left little time for educators to teach print, cursive and typing. Something had to give. It certainly wasn't going to be math or science. Instead, it's cursive.  Today, 44 states no longer mandate teaching cursive in the classrooms. Of those 44, two of them--Indiana and Hawaii-- have taken it out of the curriculum completely. That means kids are still learning to print their letters as they always have, but the transition is slowly moving away from print-to-cursive to print-to-typing.

Can we blame the system? Don't we all remember painfully inching our way through the cursive alphabet day after day? Those capitol Q's and Z's and L's.....they were nearly impossible! And how many of us are using that darn floppy flow of our ABC's today?

But wait, maybe I'm remembering it all wrong. Maybe students today do like it more than I did. There was only one way to find out. 

We visited a 3rd grade class in Nashville, Tenn., to poll a group of young writers. We asked them which writing method they prefer: print or cursive. The entire class said print (mainly because cursive, at the 3rd grade level is as laborious as painting the Statue of Liberty with a toothbrush). We then asked if they'd prefer to print or type and nearly all said they'd rather type. 

So if teachers are shying away from cursive, and adults are shying away from cursive, and even kids are shying away from cursive, what's the problem? Why can't we just do away with it? Well without cursive, we couldn't sign a check, couldn't read the Declaration of Independence, and we definitely couldn't become big and famous because how would we sign our autograph? 

The other side of the argument is a little more practical. Cursive is supposed to make things easier for us. In an age where we're doing twice as much twice as fast, you'd think you'd want an easier way to write. The only problem is, people are doing less writing and more typing. Is there a lesson lost if we give up the loopy letters? Are we teaching our kids that if something is too difficult to learn, then they might as well not learn it?

Bottom line, computers are the wave of the future and will only be playing a bigger and bigger role in our classrooms. Will it come at the total expense of cursive? Only time will tell. 

What do you think? Would you want cursive phased out of your kids' curriculum?

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