Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cursive Creations

I can remember being in third grade and focusing hard to learn the capital and lower case letters in the new and exciting world of CURSIVE.  Then in fourth grade I was comfortable enough to decide to make my print more rounded and to heart my I's instead of dotting them.  In fifth, I chose to not do the capital Z, T and F the way they were supposed to be and just make up my own version of how I thought they looked better.  Overall, I found great comfort and freedom in cursive.  It was faster, prettier and I would practice it slowly till I liked how it looked.  I was proud of my finished work.  

As an adult I even practiced my new signature before getting married and decided that Flory looked weird with the traditional cursive F and so I changed it to a cursive L with a line through it.  I know.  You're jealous that I'm so cool! :)

My son in third grade comes home with stories everyday of cursive and which letters he's on, which are the easiest and hardest and proudly displays his final drafts in cursive on the fridge.  To a third grader, it's a step up in elementary culture to one of sophistication.  Which is why this article caught my eye as I scanned the online news in education.  Do any of you readers out there have a special connection to penmanship or cursive handwriting?  I know I can't be the only one out there that cares!

"There are no tests for cursive handwriting and today it is taught primarily only in the third grade. In many schools less than one hour a week is spent teaching handwriting. Young teachers graduating today may not know how to write in cursive. Is learning cursive handwriting which was once at the core of education curriculum no longer relevant to America’s students? Cursive handwriting is important because research shows that when children are taught how to do it, they are also being taught how to learn and how to express themselves. Is it a coincidence that as cursive handwriting has gone down illiteracy has gone up? 

Experts agree that handwriting instruction is at the core of excellence in education. “When we teach handwriting, we are sending a message to students that we value legibility, attention to detail, neatness, correctness and excellence,” says, Regie Routman, author of Literacy at the Crossroads: Crucial Talk about Reading, Writing, and Other Teaching Dilemmas. The skill of handwriting involves both mental and physical processes. Those who study handwriting contend that the handwriting process offers powerful advantages to children and that time spent on handwriting development improves student’s abilities across the curriculum. Ignoring handwriting has been shown to retard fine motor coordination and produce less detail-oriented students. Could the improvement in handwriting performance contribute in any way to improvement in the learning process itself?

Neuroscientists are now studying how striking a key and handwriting letters differ in their impact on the brain. Some children are being taught keyboarding as early as Kindergarten. Dr. Frank Wilson, a neuroscientist and author of the book The Hand, How its use shapes the brain, language, and human culture, has said that this is too early and we must be careful and wait for the research to tell us that this is the right course of action. In a lecture he presented at the Institute for Development of Educational Activities (IDEA) Los Angeles he asked a noteworthy question regarding computers and the internet in the education of children. “Are there risks we cannot see? Is it possible that we could for the first time in history produce a whole generation of kids who are-how to say this- perceptually recalibrated or imaginatively diverted in some unforeseen way?” 

We have developed faster ways to communicate and can now communicate quickly with people all over the world. We have also become more disconnected from real human contact. People enjoy receiving a handwritten letter or note because it is more personal. We sense that not only the words, but some intrinsic part of the person who wrote it is there on the paper."  

Article found HERE


  1. This is an interesting topic and I would love to see more research about the importance of handwriting. I teach a self-contained gifted 4th grade class and penmanship is a challenge for many of my students. It seems as if their brains move faster than their hands, which inhibits their ability to communicate in writing. However, when given the chance to type, their ability to express their thoughts improves. I am intrigued by the idea that by not focusing on cursive as much in school we are sending the message that attention to detail, neatness, etc. is being lost. I would hate to be doing a disservice to my students if research is proving that cursive is critical to children's development.

  2. Great article. My husband and I were just talking about this (because my first grader desperately wants to learn cursive and it's in her 2nd grade homework book). To top it all off she's left handed so it is so much harder for her. I am pro-cursive and my husband is not. I am going to make him read this article. Thanks!

  3. I also LOVED this article. I am fascinated from the Montessori standpoint. I am no scholar yet, but we did talk about this at the refresher course in Cali. Penmanship is no longer a subject taught in schools and I think our children are suffering for it. We also talked about the way that a pencil is held. Back to Montessori though, cursive is what is learned FIRST and most people think that is CRAZY! The reason is because cursive is more natural for the hand to write, no need for lifting off the paper, and also because children feel and learn that it is beautiful just like you said. :) I am one of those young teachers who has forgotten certain capital letters and I DO NOT write in cursive because mine is NOT beautiful. My 3 year olds can write them prettier than me. I have been told though, I will HAVE to at the training, so I have been practicing. Sorry for the long comment!