Charleston resident Kelli Davis was in for a surprise when her daughter brought home some routine paperwork at the start of school this fall. Davis signed the form and then handed it to her daughter for the eighth-grader’s signature.
“I just assumed she knew how to do it, but I have a piece of paper with her signature on it and it looks like a little kid’s signature,” Davis said.
Her daughter was apologetic, but explained that she hadn’t been required to make the graceful loops and joined letters of cursive writing in years.
The decline of cursive is happening as students are doing more and more work on computers, including writing. In 2011, the writing test of the National Assessment of Educational Progress will require 8th and 11th graders to compose on computers, with 4th graders following in 2019.
Students accustomed to using computers to write at home have a hard time seeing the relevance of hours of practicing cursive handwriting.
Text messaging, e-mail, and word processing have replaced handwriting outside the classroom, said Cheryl Jeffers, a professor at Marshall University’s College of Education and Human Services, and she worries they’ll replace it entirely before long.
“I am not sure students have a sense of any reason why they should vest their time and effort in writing a message out manually when it can be sent electronically in seconds.”
For Jeffers, cursive writing is a lifelong skill, one she fears could become lost to the culture, making many historic records hard to decipher (Gem–this made me sniggle for some reason visualizing people throwing their hands in the air “Bob, I just can’t read the damn thing!”) and robbing people of “a gift.”
But cursive is favored by fewer college-bound students. In 2005, the SAT began including a written essay portion, and a 2007 report by the College Board found that about 15 percent of test-takers chose to write in cursive, while the others wrote in print. That was probably smart, according to Vanderbilt University professor Steve Graham, who cites multiple studies showing that sloppy writing routinely leads to lower grades, even in papers with the same wording as those written in a neater hand. It’s common for adults to write in a cursive-print hybrid. (Gem–this is actually what I do for mundane stuff)
I remember learning to write cursive and how important it was in elementary school. It was like a rite of passage when you could write in cursive, so “grown up”. What are your memories of learning/using cursive? I have two types of cursive (besides the print-cursive hybrid). One is my scribbly cursive, which has no slant and looks pretty psycho due to my left-handedness. Then I bust out the fancy schmancy cursive when necessary, the kind that slants up to the left. My print handwriting however, could win awards. I am constantly getting compliments on my beautiful print handwriting, no joke. Crabby be hatin’ because his cursive looks like one of the forefathers on the Declaration of Independence and stuff, but ER’BODY AIN’T ABLE, YOU KNOW WHAT I’M SAYIN?