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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cursive writing going the way of the dinosaur?

I enjoy looking at medieval manuscripts.  Odd hobbies, I know I have a lot of them.  They are beautiful, and once you understand the hand, or calligraphy, they are fairly easy to read.  This made me think about a trend of recent blog posts I read.  They all concern the lack of teaching cursive writing in schools and if in the next century we will need to teach researchers how to read what was written by…us. 

File:Cursive.svgMost recently James Tanner wrote at Genealogy’s Star about this subject as well.  While his post covered several subjects pertinent to the education of future researchers, his comment about his grandson not being able to read cursive struck home.  Just a few months ago I taught my middle school son how to sign his name.  He didn’t know how.  I know that they started to teach cursive in 2nd grade at his school, but it seems that it is not a requirement to actually do it anymore.  All of his work is printed or typed, no cursive to be seen.

If you had asked me a year ago if thought this could happen in our future I think I would have been hard pressed not to laugh.  Cursive, go out of favor, are you kidding me?  However, as I have read article, after article, after article addressing this concern, I started to look around me.  Even my home state isn’t requiring teaching of cursive writing anymore!

I think I am the only one in my house who still writes in cursive.  My boys both print, and so does my husband when he isn’t typing.  However, in his defense, he is a lefty with atrocious handwriting; I may be the only one on the planet that read it.  Most of my friends print, even my sons teachers for the most print all their notes home when they aren’t typed. 

What are your thoughts?  Is this a dying art from like gothic lettering?  Do see a college class for historians in 50 years on reading cursive handwriting?  Or… am I overreacting? 

*Image from wikipedia


  1. If people don't know how to write cursive than how do they sign their names? If they can only print than their names are easier to forge there fore making identity theft so much easier. Not only that printing seems so impersonal.

  2. You are correct, people will for the foreseeable future need to sign their names with signatures. However, as digital signatures become more and more common due to online forms and services I can see that there will be an increase in their use until written signatures are no longer used. I have a digital signature for PDF’s and online forms already. Perhaps my grandkids will have one issued to them at birth. Who knows!

    On the other hand I can’t believe that people will completely stop writing notes a will go completely to typing. I have an app on my iPad so that I can take handwritten notes. Yes, saves on paper, but I love writing things out. I remember it so much better if I write versus typing.

    But, I still love writing handwritten letters too. Maybe I am just old fashioned deep down inside.

  3. I'm afraid this is a dying art. One of my students at the nearby literacy center, where I volunteer tutor, wanted me to teach her cursive writing so that she could sign her name. She was fascinated. I like the look of it -- and I remember those long practice sessions in grammar school -- but in actual use, no one can really read signatures in cursive. Many applications say "please print." I'm afraid printing is the future.

  4. No one can read my signature. It has degraded over the years to a couple legible letters and a squiggle. My grandmothers had beautiful signatures. All loopy and perfectly written. My mother, the doctor, even has a legible signature. I blame it on having to sign so many papers when I was working in a lab. By the 10th time in a row of signing a report your signature degrades a bit.

    My oldest has been practicing his signature. He thinks it is cool, but will never give up printing is assignments. Which, as a lefty, may be a good thing in the long run.