On Cursive Writing
by ROBERT MIRANDA
While many may have written in cursive in the past, the new, digitally-dominated era we are living in has clearly changed the way we write, leading to the saddening decline of a treasured skill.
Many people can remember cursive writing from elementary school—practicing loops and curls over and over again, perfecting the skill. However, some believe that cursive handwriting may be “dying out.” It is no question that computers—a valuable tool in the workplace and in daily life—have precipitated the slow decline in the use of cursive writing over the last several decades. We no longer require cursive, shorthand or any other method to write quickly, because it is easier to communicate via electronic means, such as through texting. Even when writing by hand, people are more likely to develop their own style, which sometimes looks nothing at all like cursive. As people grow more accustomed to and practice their unique writing style, they slowly lose their ability to write cursive.
Many students still have some recollection of writing in cursive, often recalling their elementary school experiences. This is because California is one of the few states to still require cursive writing. According to usatoday.com, as of November 2014, California is one of seven states that have voted to add a cursive-writing standard to its version of the nationwide Common Core State Standards, which does not include a requirement to teach the skill. However, according to nytimes.com, as education has shifted towards standardized testing, “extra” skills and lessons—such as those that teach cursive writing—have been ignored or taught only briefly. According to prweb.com, in 2013, only 59 percent of elementary school teachers surveyed taught cursive writing in the classroom.
To best understand the importance and the significance of cursive writing, it should be viewed as a skill. Cursive writing is an adapted form of the alphabet that provides ease and speed in writing. When taking exams or writing essays, writing quickly and legibly is a clear advantage over printing slowly and methodically. According to nytimes.com, cursive writing is faster than other handwriting: there are virtually no spaces or breaks between letters in a word, and the strokes used in writing allow for easier transitions between words.
Perhaps the most important fear surrounding the decline of cursive is the fact that future generations will not be able to read it, including older documents written in script, such as the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. In many cases, the letters used in cursive writing are very different from those used in printing. As a result, it is easy to forget the flourishes and strokes that make up certain letters—and even easier to forget how to read the style completely. Not being able to read cursive would be a great loss to posterity, considering how many crucial documents, including simple letters from older relatives, are written in the style.
Cursive has evolved in many ways over the centuries. From the graceful strokes of the Spencerian method—the script that the Coca-Cola logo is written in—to the more traditional curves of the Palmer method, to the even simpler D’Nealian method that most students today were taught to use, cursive will always look impressive. It is unfortunate that many teachers and students have chosen not to teach or use a skill that brings convenience and a type of elegance to an everyday task most would not otherwise consider elegant.