April 9, 2013

Of Cursive!

There is a new trend for writing cursive. I know what you're thinking, "Who the heck has the time?" Isn't tapping a keyboard much faster?

Well, yes. But if I had moaned about handwriting to Miss Louise Fitzgerald, my 3rd grade teacher (and, later, first writing mentor) at Jefferson School in Maplewood, New Jersey, she would have throttled me. It was in her class that I learned longhand penmanship. Bailing from sans serif to serif for this 9-year old was a thrill. I also had great envy for the inkwell and pen that she had on her desk. (I can still remember her blue-inked signature.)

To write by hand, you have to have something to write about. Try writing a love letter in cursive. Crank up a chain letter. How about a personalized thank you note? All three are fun to receive in the mail and will certainly be more tangible in the future than your email in- and sent box. When we are long gone, who is going to tell the next generations, "Oh, look in my email box." (Reminder: Don't forget to leave your passwords in your will.)

Generating mail is also one small gesture we can all take to help save our U.S. Postal Service. (Click here to order stamps online.)

Advice for the Day:  Take a seat and a sheet of paper or a notecard. Grab a pen or pencil. Ponder, and practice perfecting your penmanship.

Besides ... writing by hand is good for the soul. Of cursive, it is.


KateGladstone said...

Handwriting matters ... But does cursive matter?
Research shows: the fastest and most legible handwriters join only some letters, not all of them: making the easiest joins, skipping the rest, and using print-like shapes for those letters whose cursive and printed shapes disagree. (Citations appear below.)

Cursive programs and teachers strongly discourage such practices. Students learning cursive are required to join all letters, and to use different shapes for cursive versus printed letters.

When following the rules doesn't work as well as breaking them, it’s time to re-write and upgrade the rules. The discontinuance of cursive offers a great opportunity to teach some better-functioning form of handwriting that is actually closer to what the fastest, clearest handwriters do anyway. (There are indeed textbooks and curricula teaching handwriting this way. Cursive and printing are not the only choices.)

Reading cursive still matters — this takes just 30 to 60 minutes to learn, and can be taught to a five- or six-year-old if the child knows how to read. The value of reading cursive is therefore no justification for writing it.

(In other words, we could simply teach kids to _read_ old-fashioned handwriting and save the year-and-a-half that are expected to be enough for teaching them to _write_ that way too ... not to mention the actually longer time it takes to teach someone to perform such writing _well_.)

Remember, too: whatever your elementary school teacher may have been told by her elementary school teacher, cursive signatures have no special legal validity over signatures written in any other way. (Don't take my word for this: talk to any attorney.)


/1/ Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, and Naomi Weintraub.
1998: on-line at http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/27542168.pdf


/2/ Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, Naomi Weintraub, and William Schafer.
1998: on-line at http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/27542188.pdf

(NOTE: there are actually handwriting programs that teach this way.
Shouldn't there be more of them?)

Yours for better letters,

Kate Gladstone
Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works
and the World Handwriting Contest

Bonni Brodnick said...

Thanks so much, Kate, for your thoughtful comment. I was amongst the top 2 with the best cursive in Miss Fitzgerald's 3rd grade class at Jefferson School. I still relish it as I try to loop my G's and Y's to the letters proceeding. In my book, cursive counts.

Please do stay in touch.


Unknown said...

This one is great and is really a good post. I think it will help me a lot in the related stuff and is very much useful for me. Very well written I appreciate & must say good job.


handwriting solution

Bonni Brodnick said...

Isha, many thanks for taking a moment to write. Glad the post was helpful.

James Anthony said...

When starting to learn how to write in cursive, it is a good idea to start with the alphabet. Before the computer age, this style of writing was taught in schools.
James Anthony || mycursive.com

Bonni Brodnick said...

Excellent point, James. Thanks for writing.

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