After eight years of learning cursive, my writing still looks pretty terrible….
I remember being in eighth grade, where I was starting to move into higher level English classes and I FINALLY got out of spelling. However, the one thing that put me off was that I was still being forced to take cursive. What was the point besides writing my signature and writing that paragraph on the SAT?
Brooding teenage me was very unhappy for a while, but eventually got over it. But many parents, and adults, have asked the same question: What is the point of cursive? Should we even be teaching it in schools? To answer this, we must first look into the past.
The origins of cursive (like so many other things) began with the Romans. Around the 5th century A.D. is when the style really started to develop, and even after the empire fell, monks all over Europe used different types of handwriting.
The next big step in history was brought about by the cost of parchment in the Middle Ages. Writers wanted to save space, therefore money. Shortly after Johannes Gutenberg and his printing press appeared, a group of Italians invented a cursive version of Carolingian handwriting, which they called Italic.
After this, the style took off in Europe, then later the United States. There were professional “penmen” that copied documents in cursive and different styles of writing for men and women. In the 19th century, cursive became a major part of curriculum in schools, and flourished in education. However, its popularity started to decline with the invention of the typewriter, and soon, cursive began to fade into history (Cohen, 2012). Today, with computers and electronics, cursive is not taught in most schools in the USA, with a few states, such as California, being the exceptions (Heitin, 2016).
Is It Worthwhile?
Currently there are many arguments against leaving cursive out of schools. Part of the protests come from the fact that many children do not know how to sign their name in cursive. How would they sign for bank loans, credit card purchases, or anything involving a signature? Not only that, but if cursive continues to be left out, future generations will be unable to read previous documents in cursive, and will be not be aware of the emotional nuances of handwriting, such as pressure, splatters, etc. (Leclerc, 2013; Heitin, 2016).
Because I am specializing in communication, I can understand the importance of cursive. If documents are transcribed to print, and the originals are never seen, certain feelings and facts can be lost. One example are the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Each one had his own unique signature, and showed a small amount of personality through it. On the other hand, as technology moves forward, I can understand how cursive is not quite as important as it used to be. Different types of verification can be used besides a signature, and backstory can be provided for items written in cursive.
In summation, cursive has played an important part in writing, and it still has a place now. Whether that place is as important now versus the past is still up for debate. However, as with all history, it could be beneficial to all if we preserved it now and for future generations.
Cohen, J. (2012). A Brief History of Penmanship on National Handwriting Day. Retrieved from http://www.history.com/news/a-brief-history-of-penmanship-on-national-handwriting-day
Heitin, L. (2016). Why don’t the common-core standards include cursive writing?. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/scary-clown-rumors-serious-business-schools/
Leclerc, M. J. (2013). Killing Cursive is Killing History. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-j-leclerc/killing-cursive-is-killin_b_4261572.html