Whitefield Academy Blog
The Case for Cursive: Making It Great Again
I feel really badly for the person at our church who collects the sign-in booklets from each pew after the service. My five year old insists on being the one to sign it each Sunday: “Lila, Olive, Ma, Pa.” She doesn’t call us “Ma” and “Pa” in real life; I think she’s pretending to be Laura Ingalls Wilder. Most people don’t seem to notice the hearkening back to 1867, however. Instead, they notice, usually with alarm, that she’s writing these names in cursive.
Ye Olde Handwriting
To say that cursive handwriting is out of vogue is an understatement. Whether you blame the ballpoint pen, the Common Core Standards, or the computer, cursive has fallen so far out of style that many students can’t even read it. But who needs it? We aren’t bemoaning the loss of the Model T or outhouses. This is America! Onward and upward! Before we group cursive with hoop skirts and knickers, however, we should make sure that we aren’t losing something too valuable to replace.
The Case for Cursive
Much of the argument against cursive is that it takes too much time and is difficult. But actually, neither of those arguments hold much water. Cursive may take a little bit more time to learn than print, but once students learn it, they are actually able to write more quickly, each word requiring the pencil lifting only once or twice rather than multiple times for each letter as with print. For many students, cursive is actually easier to learn because the first shapes that children naturally draw are circles and circular squiggles. Cursive channels those squiggles into legible letters rather than forcing students into writing with rigid lines. Some studies have even shown that cursive engages more of the brain than print or typing and better develops fine motor skills.
When we decided to send our kindergartner to a classical school, we didn’t really care much about her learning cursive. We thought it would be cool, kind of like a little circus act. But we have been blown away by the benefits of learning cursive. Not only is her handwriting better than ours, but the process of pursuing mastery at a young age has helped her to learn how to make mistakes. Rather than giving her a trophy for completing an assignment, our daughter’s teachers point out to her which of her practice letters are “fridge-worthy” and which ones are not. She is encouraged to practice and improve the not so good ones, giving her a safe place to learn that success often requires hard work. Would you also believe that her kindergarten class sits still and practices their handwriting while listening to classical music, with smiles on their faces?
The Future of Handwriting
Even though cursive no longer stands in the lime light, many schools are seeing the benefits of cursive and are bringing it back across the United States. There has even been legislation requiring that certain states bring it back. So as you’re writing that grocery list tonight, dig back into the cobwebs and try to write it in cursive; you might be surprised how much you like it!