Cursive; More Questions Than Answers

The other day while cleaning out Emmett’s backpack, (our 2nd grader), my mouth dropped. I was unexpectedly holding a worksheet for students to trace and then write a letter “B” in cursive!! This was too good to be true. I know the Minneapolis Public Schools system no longer teaches cursive, choosing instead to spend time studying for standardized tests among other reasons, so I was (pleasantly) surprised by the find. After asking Emmett and his teacher, Mr. Janssen, why Emmett had been practicing cursive, I learned it was an extra bit of work the students could select during their free time. Although his teacher feels strongly about the importance of handwriting, he must use his class time for other school district requirements.


I was taught cursive in 3rd grade soon after D’Nealian was introduced in 2nd grade. Through the years my handwriting took the form of half-cursive, half-block writing. Surprisingly, the cursive has returned. Although I can’t say the same for my two closest friends from grade school. Both Kari and Theresa were taught cursive in the same fashion but have printed for as long as I can remember (and adoringly, their writing has barely changed!).

I generally like the look of my writing and it’s become clear over the years that my cursive is here to stay. Not only does it hold a unique form but it’s by far faster to use cursive versus block writing especially when it comes to writing page after page while journaling.

Awhile ago I caught a great story on the Today Show (patience with the 30 sec add, it’s worth the wait!) asking the question; are computers really fazing out penmanship? There are two clear sides to the battle; those who believe learning cursive takes time away from other subjects pitted against others who look at the values it brings to a student. Today in 44 states teaching cursive is optional, and in Hawaii and Indiana cursive is no longer in the curriculum. Which means as a school and a teacher and a parent we need to fight the good cursive fight.


The Oxford Dictionary’s definition of cursive is “any style of handwriting that is designed for writing notes and letters quickly by hand” and “many or all letters in a word are connected.” There you have it – Cursive is meant to save us time. I should share this with Emmett. He’s all about how fast can he get through his work! Maybe cursive is his answer. Stay tuned this summer as I remind you all of the benefits of handwriting, both print and cursive.

P.S. I’m headed to the National Stationery Show tomorrow to find more paper goods for the shop! Be sure to follow my adventures on Instagram – Lots to discover at the Javits Cetner.

2 thoughts on “ Cursive; More Questions Than Answers

  1. Alecia Stevens

    Oh, this is so sad. Sunday morning, New York Times time, sitting with Lee, my Waldorf teacher husband, my attention falls from the Times to your blog and now a conversation with Lee about your post. With grown children, all who certainly learned cursive at Waldorf, I am going into mourning over this. Wearing black all day! (Oh, I guess I wear black every day!) Seriously, if anyone has ever seen the beauty of a Waldorf Main Lesson book, it would be unthinkable to NOT teach cursive writing. The children use these as the primary learning tool from 1st through 8th grade, learning to write in beautiful straight lines on an unlined page (NEVER lined paper!) and illustrate their writing, moving to computers ONLY in high school. Even if your child isn’t going to a Waldorf school, who didn’t love the doodles of looking at your own hand on paper? Practicing how to write your name, the name of your beloved? Another nail in the coffin of American education! Here’s a link to what a Waldorf student does everyday. Do you think they will give up cursive anytime soon?

  2. Wendy

    Fabulous comment, Alecia! And thank you for the link. The other day I was with high school girlfriends and one of them pulled out a box from our days at Southwest High, including a handwritten note from me in 9th grade. We were in tears as I read the hysterical, full page note out loud and it brought us back to that time in our lives in a moment. I sadly doubt freshmen these days are printing emails or saving texts to find later in years to come. Very sad.


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