Why do they bother to teach us cursive in school?
Although it’s nice to be able to write fluidly, it’s too bad the cursive they teach in (American) elementary schools is so clunky. A chancery-style italic is more similar to basic printing and more legible than the weirdly Victorian Palmer method besides. Ugh, those majuscules! Hear, hear. That’s pretty much the style I learned, and I still can do cursive only by more or less drawing the letters. Even my signature is a bit clunky. I’m not sure when I learned to print… certainly before entering kindergarten. Then, four or so years later, in US third grade, I was taught this ugly, clunky, inefficient writing style, and took every future opportunity not to use it. In my opinion, anyone who is subjected to such a method and later develops a smooth, efficient script learns the sort of writing they actually use outside of school. When I took the SAT in my junior year of high school, the hardest part of the test for me was… writing out the honor pledge thing in cursive. I couldn’t do it i
Well, that’s part of the reason they teach you cursive: if you have good penmanship, your cursive is legible to people who have also learned cursive, and it is much faster to write. Ok, given – there IS a reason for teaching cursive. I would still argue that the time would be better spent teaching us math and reading. I don’t remember it taking that much time to learn– a few classes in third grade. I recall it taking a lot longer than that – usually some amount of time every day, over the course of a year or two. There was also homework, if I recall.
In the days when most written communication was by pen, and given that cursive is supposedly designed to be faster/more efficient to write, then the justification for teaching cursive is that children should have a skill in the most efficient and standardized form of written communication. Secondarily, or stealthily primarily, it’s just another of the many socially stratifying tasks of education and is about status. As the rationale for cursive becomes more and more tenuous, the primary justification becomes much weaker and the true fucntion is nothing more than a social signifier. I mean, I have a very, very “classic” liberal arts education. In my school’s context, there’s a lot of effort spent in validating the education in terms of objective value. The critics, however, see it is mostly a snobbish cultural elitism. The reality, of course, is somewhere between the two viewpoints. There can be good, practical reasons for teaching something initially that later becomes anachronistic an
My mother, a former elementary school teacher, always told me that penmanship was taught for the same reason grammar and spelling are taught. Standardized communication creates efficiencies for readers. In general, most readers find it easier to read standardized writing, grammar and spelling. Teachers, being people, also find this easier. When they find it easier to read something, they are more inclined to give it good marks or at least spend time providing helpful comments. Thus, by learning proper penmanship, you are setting yourself on the course to go to university. My mom said that, in university, she actually read some studies that showed students with better handwriting got better marks. She said that neatness and orderly presentation were the keys to getting good marks. For example, when I wanted to go to the science fair, she suggested I glue my note cards on coloured construction paper and that I use felt pens that matched that paper. She suggested I use rulers to make sure
The hardest part of the SAT, for me, was the cursive part that went something to the effect of “I did not cheat on this stupid test” and you had to remember all those cursive letters you haven’t used since second grade. Yes, cursive is a vestigial organ of the American school system. It’s purpose is now irrelevant as we no longer correspond by hand, everything is electronic. Yes a lot of people still hand write but walk into any office in the US and basic word processing skills are required. The serious problem is for those who the system forgot or let slid through and now can’t complete basic tasks, a burden to our economy. I believe most school systems are deemphasizing cursive and allocating more time to learn computing basics. The fact that the majority of people do not use cursive testifies to the uselessness of this means of writing. Besides cursive can be more easily learned by an adult with fine motor skills if they need to learn it. In my experience picking up cursive is much