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Sherrill Joseph Asks Cursive Writing, Yea or Nay?

Sherrill Joseph is the author of the Botanic Hill Detectives mystery series for children. You can find out more about her here, see her books here, and read her last post here.

“So, why are you torturing my son by teaching him cursive?”

That was the first question I, a staunch proponent of formal Zaner-Bloser cursive instruction, received from the frowning parent of one of my fifth graders at Back-to-School Night in September 2012.

Not exactly the auspicious start I hoped for that evening. But the question reveals the ongoing divide in America: Should students be taught cursive handwriting anymore?

After all, we do live in a predominantly digital age now. Keyboarding seems to reign supreme for composing, emailing, and texting. Some ask, “Who even picks up a pen or pencil anymore?” Some say, “Cursive writing is important and should be taught.” Others counter with, “Let it die.” Each side has its entrenched arguments.

Some Relevant Definitions

Handwriting is writing by hand, not by keyboarding or texting. Manuscript, also known as Printing, is the form of handwriting American children tend to learn first (Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 2) where upright letters are formed individually into words. Cursive is the form of handwriting children might learn next (Grades 2 or 3 through 5) where the letters connect in a nonstop, flowing manner to form words. Penmanship is the art or skill of good handwriting.

The Continuing Cursive Handwriting Debate

There are many Cursive Naysayers in this country. Two I found (nytimes.com) were Morgan Polikoff, USC assistant professor of education and a standards, assessment, and accountability researcher; and, Kate Gladstone, founder of Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works. Their combined statements:

  • Let It Die. Cursive should not be mandated. We can communicate effectively via keyboarding or printing.
  • Cursive is Not in State Standards. If cursive is not in the state standards, it should not be taught.
  • The Standards Do Not Need Skills Added. State standards are full of the essential skills students need to succeed in reading and writing. Mandating cursive instruction undermines the strength of the standards.
  • Cursive is Outmoded. It should go the way of the abacus and slide rule.
  • Kids Can Still Read Cursive. Kids can be taught to read cursive in thirty to sixty minutes without producing it.
  • Adults are Abandoning Cursive. Keyboarding and printing are favored nowadays.   
  • Signatures. In state and federal law, cursive signatures have no special legal validity over any other kind.

There are also many Cursive Yeasayers in the US. One Yeasayer (nytimes.com) was Suzanne Baruch Asherson, a California school occupational therapist and national presenter for Handwriting Without Tears (an early childhood education company); another (psychologytoday.com) was Christopher Bergland, a science writer and promotor of cerebellum optimization; and, writing professionals and researchers reporting at mycursive.com, mentalfloss.com, and scholastic.com. Their combined statements:

  • Senses and the Brain are Activated. Sight, touch, and sound senses are activated by putting a writing instrument to paper, opening the brain for learning. Handwriting in general stimulates the brain like nothing else.
  • Flow of Cursive Writing Stimulates the Brain. Brain synapses, synchronicity between the left and right cerebral hemispheres, hand-eye coordination, and sensory-motor integrations build neural pathways as those pathways mimic the flow of cursive letters’ connections, absent when printing or typing. Cursive works the entire brain.
  • Benefits of Forming and Connecting Cursive Letters. Students develop fine motor skills when using cursive, which leads to learning correct spacing of letters, transferring to words and sentences.
  • Flow Allows Shift to Content. The physical act of writing in cursive also increases the flow of thought, comprehension, and participation in learning since cursive’s speed and efficiency allow students to focus on their written content, not the writing.
  • Faster Writing, Plus. Students can take notes faster in cursive than when printing or keyboarding, which can result in greater retention of content and an increase in the brain’s muscle memory.
  • Reflection and Synthesis. Students who take notes in cursive tend to reflect on and synthesize ideas into their own words, i.e., develop higher-order thinking skills. Keyboarders tend to type what is said verbatim.
  • Self-Discipline. Cursive requires that a writing instrument be held a certain way, paper be slanted correctly, and students’ posture be upright, which can help develop self-discipline and body alignment.
  • Improved Reading. Cursive, but not printing or keyboarding, was found to activate a “reading circuit” for effective letter processing, helping reading proficiency.
  • Improved Language Arts. Research showed an increase in mental effectiveness in cursive users, leading to their learning and retaining correct grammar, spelling, reading, and writing.
  • Learning and Remembering. Data analyses show cursive handwriting primed the brain for learning by synchronizing brain waves, important for encoding new information and for remembering. Not learning cursive may hinder the brain’s optimal potential in these areas.
  • Universal Accessibility. Fast, legible handwriting is a technology universally accessible to all students, regardless of socioeconomic levels and/or ability to acquire and use computers and cellphones.
  • Self-Confidence. Students who master cursive penmanship improve their self-confidence to communicate freely.
  • Beyond the Classroom. Cursive is, therefore, vital for helping students master standards of written expression and critical thinking, life skills that move beyond testing into adulthood.   

Some archivists believe that continuing to use cursive preserves a historical tradition and even history itself since handwritten documents cannot be easily deleted.

Graphologists (those who study and analyze handwriting) tend to ask for writing samples in cursive since the connections between cursive letters are rich sources for analyses not available from printing.

Is cursive making a comeback? Yes! As of 2020, twenty-one states in the US (up seven from 2019) require students to learn and use cursive handwriting. Does your state? Check HERE.

So, how did I respond to that parent’s question at Back-to-School Night? “Cursive makes kids smarter! Research shows it. And cursive is another tool on kids’ tool belts. More tools, more work accomplished efficiently well into adulthood. Care to see my research?”

Cursive instruction has existed in the US since the early 1850s. As I observe National Handwriting Day each year on January 23 (John Handcock’s birthday), my mantra is, “Cursive handwriting is on the wall—and must remain there.”

Sherrill Joseph

Sherrill Joseph is the award-winning author of the Botanic Hill Detectives series for middle graders. You can find out more about her on her website, sherrilljoseph.com, or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, Pinterest, or Instagram.

This Post Has 31 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Laurie Buchanan

    Sherrill — Whether taught at home, in school, or both, I’m a huge proponent of cursive writing!

  2. Tim
    Tim

    What an interesting post! I love all the info you’ve included. My cursive writing is illegible, so I usually print. I use cursive when I’m jotting down notes to myself. It’s like I’m writing in a secret code. ;^)

    1. Sherrill Joseph
      Sherrill Joseph

      P.S. Tim, if you click on the hyperlink in my post about which states mandate cursive instruction, then scroll down the page from mycursive.com, you’ll see a 52-page handbook to download for free for practicing. Also, further on in the article, there are techniques for anyone to use to improve their cursive.

  3. Sherrill Joseph
    Sherrill Joseph

    Wonderful, Laurie! Please spread the word about cursive’s many benefits when you can.

  4. Margaret Mizushima

    I love the information you’ve included in this post, Sherrill. We lived in Texas during my grade school years, and cursive was taught early. Each morning during our 7th and 8th grade years, we started with Penmanship, completing exercises that consisted of push and pulls and ovals, then practicing each capital and small letter of the alphabet, and then writing word lists and sentences that the teacher provided. It’s remarkable how my handwriting resembles my siblings and many of my classmates, since we were all taught to practice the same forms. As we’ve aged, our handwriting has gotten less precise for sure, although my sister’s remains pretty perfect. My right arm was broken and my right hand paralyzed for almost a year, so mine is pretty sloppy at this point, but if I really try, I can almost approximate what it used to be. I love all the data that supports cursive handwriting. Thanks for such an interesting post!

    1. Sheila Lowe
      Sheila Lowe

      Interestingly, Margaret, research shows that even in a case like yours, where you had to use your opposite writing hand, eventually, your personality traits show in your handwriting, just the same as in your natural hand.

    2. Sherrill Joseph
      Sherrill Joseph

      Thanks, Margaret! I wonder if you reverted to practicing those push, pulls, and ovals if that would help you polish your cursive.

  5. Jacqueline Vick
    Jacqueline Vick

    You have hit on one of my sore spots. Learning handwriting is so necessary, and you’ve hit on all the reasons. And how will these children read documents, such as the Constitution? It’s such a disservice to take it out of school. As for the parent? I go to the butterfly analogy. If you help a butterfly out of the cocoon, it will die. The struggle and “torture” is natures way of toughening us up.

    1. Sherrill Joseph
      Sherrill Joseph

      Great butterfly analogy, Jacqueline. Love it. Yes, most of the best learning comes about through toil/”torture”! At least that’s true for me. And educational pedagogy would back that up.

  6. Avatar
    saralynrichard

    What an interesting topic, and I’m glad you sided with the cursive proponents. Dropping the teaching of cursive because of computers is analogous to dropping the study of math because of calculators. If the trend continues, the only ones doing any thinking will be the machines.

    1. Sherrill M Joseph
      Sherrill M Joseph

      Agreed, Like HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and we know what happened because a machine went berserk.

  7. Sheila Lowe
    Sheila Lowe

    January 23 was National Handwriting Day.
    As president of the American Handwriting Analysis Foundation, when I learned that the Common Core Curriculum had removed the requirement to teach cursive writing, and most states had stopped teaching it, I formed the Campaign for Cursive committee. That committee has worked nonstop with legislators, educators, and parents in many states. I’m happy to say that as of an informal survey last year, 25 states have now returned the requirement to teach cursive handwriting to the curriculum, and 6 more have legislation pending. Only 10 states have no requirement at all. We need to all work together to keep publicizing the importance of maintaining this lifelong skill in a digital age. For anyone who would like to see some of the peer-reviewed research to support this position, AHAF has a white paper (in 7 languages) that was recently dated. It can be downloaded free: http://www.ahafahandwriting.org

    1. Sherrill Joseph
      Sherrill Joseph

      Brava, Sheila! I know the twenty-one states than mandate cursive as of 2020 (hyperlink in my blog post). Would love to know the newest four to join. And what are the six more with legislation pending? I couldn’t find the answers online. Thanks!

  8. Avatar
    Avanti Centrae

    Interesting info. I find that physically writing gets the creative juices flowing. I hope it continues to be taught.

  9. Anne Louise Bannon

    I find that cursive notes stick with me, which is why I’m not surprised by the research. One of the reasons my desk is continually littered with small bits of paper. The interesting thing is that I’m starting to write digitally on an iPad with the Apple pencil/stylus. It’s my cursive, but it’s retained as a digital file than a bit of paper. So far, best of both worlds. But I still love my fountain pens.

  10. Christine DeSmet
    Christine DeSmet

    Great post. I always found cursive writing fun. In college all the notes I did were made via cursive writing and recently in cleaning out a closet of notebooks it was interesting for me to look at how tiny and economical my handwriting was when writing fast during lectures, and how perfect it seemed back then. I don’t know how I did it. Cursive has so much to do with learning and retention that it’s silly for states not to mandate learning it. Wisconsin is one that I don’t see on your list, sadly.

    1. Sherrill Joseph
      Sherrill Joseph

      See Sheila’s note, above. Maybe it’s one of the four latest states to get on board, or one of the six pending. I hope California rejoins the cursive mandate.

  11. Avatar
    Anastasia Abboud

    What a fascinating post! Thank you!

    I’m sort of in the middle as to whether or not it should be mandated. I agree that it would be very sad to lose cursive, but I don’t think we will. As your article suggests, It will be forever in important and revered historical documents. Also, it will always be held as an art form. Considering that, to at least be familiar with it I
    would certainly be a boon to our young. I hope my grandchildren learn it. They should, as I checked the link you provide and Texas is one of the states on the list.

    But when will they use it in school or even in most jobs? Surely even typed, say, book reports (for example) are preferable and more efficient to pages of cursive?

    Still, good penmanship is a skill worth having. I don’t doubt that your students will be smarter for it. They are fortunate to have a teacher like you.

    All the best!

  12. Sherrill Joseph
    Sherrill Joseph

    Thanks for your comments, Anastasia. Taking notes from a class discussion or while doing research are good times to use cursive, the benefits being many as shared in my blog. Doing handwritten rough drafts could also help the creative process. And, as you pointed out, “good penmanship is a skill worth having.” In as little as fifteen minutes a day, most people, child or adult, can improve their penmanship and gain satisfaction from their efforts as well.

  13. Tracey Phillips
    Tracey Phillips

    Thanks so much Sherrill for bring home all the great reasons to keep handwriting in school. I use it for all my note taking (5-10 conferences per year) and it helps me retain the info.
    On a side note, I recently learned that doing things with your less dominant hand stimulates the brain in unimaginable ways. For aging folks, it can help you retain memory and even restore memories long forgotten. I point this out because as a piano teacher, I always say, if you can do it with your right hand, then you should be able to do it with your left. Unlike other instruments, we practice exercises to improve agility and strength in both the left and right hands.
    My Grandmother, who was also a great piano player and teacher, knew this to be true as well. She even took the lesson to the next level and taught herself how to write with her less dominant (left) hand. This proved to be worthwhile in her late years because she developed a palsy in her right hand and couldn’t even hold a pen, let alone write. Learning to write with my left hand is on my bucket list!
    T

    1. Sherrill Joseph
      Sherrill Joseph

      That’s fascinating, Tracey, and great advice! I should have thought of that, being a piano player years ago, plus my dad played classical piano every day. He always started with an hour of Czerny’s finger exercises before opening his sheet music. An exercise I do many times a day is “piano hands” where I imitate playing the piano (arpeggios and crossovers) with both hands outstretched in front of me. I’m going to try practicing cursive with my nondominant hand.

    1. Sherrill Joseph
      Sherrill Joseph

      Will do! Thanks, Tracey.

  14. joyribar
    joyribar

    Sherrill: I’m so happy you wrote about cursive writing and its importance. As a high school and college English educator, I’ve advocated for continuing to teach kids cursive writing. It’s such an important hand to brain connector and builds those critical pathways in the brain for knowledge and creativity. I was part of our technology steering committee at my school for years and constantly touted the benefits of children continuing to learn cursive. I read brain studies for fun, so I used to bring them to these meetings. I’m sure some of the techies were eye rolling silently in my direction.

  15. Sherrill M Joseph
    Sherrill M Joseph

    Thanks, Joy. And thanks for all you did to support cursive. It used to be mandated instruction here in CA, but that was dropped about ten years ago when the Common Core Standards descended upon us. I still taught it, but it’s a hard sell these days, sadly. I sincerely hope CA and many other states return cursive to the curriculum.

  16. Sharon Lynn
    Sharon Lynn

    I love this, Sherrill! My daughter, 25, never learned cursive in school but she adores my mom, her grandmother’s handwritten notes. My mom taught 3rd grade for 21 years and has picture perfect cursive so my daughter wanted to learn. We started doing our grocery lists in cursive. She started with just letters, but now she can link them altogether and her writing is beautiful. The fun part for me is bringing back that rote memory of how to do. I have to admit to needing to look up capital Qs and Zs online. Not only does it spur creativity, it’s helping to tie 3 generations together.

  17. Sherrill Joseph
    Sherrill Joseph

    That’s a fabulous success story, Sharon! I’m so happy that your daughter learned cursive. I wonder how many kids today might have similar stories in the future. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Avatar
    Noah C. Johnson

    Cursive does not belong in the classroom. the reason for this is the simple fact that when you put something in the elementary schools, you are in fact using the government to mandate that everyone do it, regardless of if they can, or if it has any actuall benefits for them. this fact can single handedly trigger changes in my opinions on things; and it should in yours. given the above, an exceptional amount of justification is needed to mandate things, not everything that is good meets that criteria. let me explain why

    cursive is no more relevant then Latin (and much less interesting too), and it amounts to the inflection of severe pain on many people. I have had an actual root canal, and it hurt significantly less then writing cursive. any perceived attack on cursive is meant to hurt mandatory cursive, not cursive per say.

    CURSIVE SHOULD BE AN ELECTIVE ONLY. there are just not enough good reasons for it to be compulsory, but there more then enough for it to be offered, on the understanding and acceptance of the fact that many people will say no, but the interested will say yes. of course, I am a believer in the principle of a society that values freedom, so my default position on everything is that people are allowed to do something if they want to, but under no circumstance should they be mandated to do it; I require significant evidence to sway from that position, indeed if that is not how you are, there is no place for you in a society that values freedom. but anyway, Cursive has no role in modern life, and by the time anyone who is in school now is old enough to be employed, it will have even less of one

    my arguments against cursive include:

    I. cursive takes forever to master, and some never will no matter hard they try

    II. cursive is impossible to write good enough (and I define something as being written ‘good enough’ when it has been written correctly point where the letters are recognizable, though written imperfectly), cursive has to be perfected before it can be written legibly even to those who can read it, bad cursive may as well be doodles, and many people will never get good at cursive

    III. some cursive letters look so different from what people see in books, on the internet, or in handwritten print; that I think that Greek or Cyrillic (Russian) alphabet letters are more obviously some type of letter then cursive is; this is true of even well written cursive; poorly written cursive (I. E. what most people who learn cursive because of education mandates wind up with) is indistinguishable from scribbles

    IV. to many people; myself included, even attempting cursive amounts to the gratuitous inflection of severe physical pain; I have experienced an actual root canal, and it hurt a lot less then trying to write cursive; I am 100% serious when I say that I would rather be waterboarded then write cursive. the possibility of inflicting serious physical pain would be not much of a problem if it was only done voluntarily, but when something is mandated in the education system, you have people who do not want to do it being forced to.

    V. too many cursive letters look like each other, making them hard to distinguish; which is of course harmful to anyone trying to read anything. this is the case even when written “correctly”. what does it say of a writting style when the letter combinations “be” and “li” look almost identical and require several minutes of staring to make out. this is when they are written as they are supposed to be, when written improperly, they are even worse

    VI. cursive only has advantages if your preferred writing instrument is a feather dipped in ink. I doubt the biggest cursive proponent has ever written with a feather and ink, and certainly does not do so regularly. not lifting the pen may be an advantage with feather and ink because those are hard to lift, can break easily, and can splatter ink all over; but no modern writing instrument has those properties. not lifting the pen slows you down because of the friction from the paper, and also having to go the same distances, and sometimes trace it. cursive became obsolete when the ballpoint pen was invented, that was in the late 1880s if you are wondering. you wanna talk about outdated?

    VI. cursive makes it so that you get tiered so much quicker

    VII. even most people who learn cursive abandon it the second it stops being required; which suggests there are a lot of better uses for everyone’s time

    VIX. cursive makes dyslexia far far worse, in part because you can no longer make out the distinct letters. I think cursive set me back months in literacy.

    X. cursive is slower, harder and less legible then print. print letter shapes are undeniably simpler, which makes them faster, easier and more legible, as well as requiring fewer strokes to write.

    XI. handwriting is less necessary in the modern age in general, though to be honest I find this less compelling the above arguments, but why are we teaching 2 forms of something when it is debatable if we even need one? though I would say that if you want to save handwriting you should insist it become all print, but if you want to kill handwriting you should push cursive.

    these are just some of the reasons cursive sucks. cursive proponents have no real arguments, but what passes for the most common ones can be refuted as follows:

    1. the general benefits argument: its benefits are wholly unproven, no study has even proven benefits of cursive specifically, the closest is demonstrating that handwriting generally has some benefits, but no distinction between cursive and print; I have read dozens of studies about the issue, and none back up cursive when you read what they actually say. most people who claim “brain benefits” will not articulate what they even think those benefits are, and usually will not dive into the question of if any verifiable facts support those benefits. every study cursive proponents quote turns out to be either misquoted, taken out of context, overtly lied about, or cites a source that engages in this behavior. often they do not cite the anything at all. rarely do they articulate what benefits they think cursive has. Ipse dixit statements just don’t work for convincing me of the benefits of something.

    2. the speed argument: this one is based on a flat out distortion of fact if not full blown lies, and it doesn’t pass the smell test of truth either; I have found even illegible cursive to be incredibly slow, much more so then print. you want me to believe that adding a bunch of pretentious, ornate, intricate, and gratuitous loops, curls, tails, flourishes and curlicues to letterforms speeds up writing? how could anyone have so little common sense so as to think that? this one is exceptionally stupid, but to be sure, I checked the research, and there are studies that show that cursive can, for some people, but not others, be faster only if legibility is not a concern at all, but those same studies find that legible cursive is significantly slower then legible print, which shouldn’t be a surprise given all those ornate loops and curls cursive letterforms have; cursive is much slower compared to print of equal legibility. also I happen to find illegible cursive to be significantly slower then legible print, or even illegible print. did I mention that cursive cannot be written “close enough” (or good enough that you can read the letterforms though they are imperfect), whereas print can, cursive has to be perfected before it can be used

    3. the historical documents argument: this one is especially ridiculous when you think about it, and let me explain why:

    A. it is possible to know how to read something without being able to write it yourself (for example I can read blackletter and Gaelic Script [which is not even typically used for writing English, though it can be used for that, outside of rare decorative inscriptions in Ireland, and a single house decoration my grandma owned; it never is, and never was; Irish Gaelic, by some accounts an endangered language is what is typically written in Gaelic script], but I will never be able to write either of them myself, in both cases my ability to read them is in fact better than I can read cursive; which I was years ago forced to waste excessive amounts of time learning to write, but no one ever bothered teaching us how to read); indeed many courses in dead languages like Latin focus on being able to understand what is already written in the language, not on being able to speak it or write it yourself

    B. there are thousands of places you can find print versions of America’s founding documents, both hard copy and digital; some of the hard copies are from that era, those versions actually being what most people read, not the “originals”; and changing the font in which words are written does not change the meaning of them; if anyone asks I can show you some of those locations

    C. the cursive versions of those documents are not in ‘modern’ (palmer style) cursive; but instead an older form known as “copperplate”, which is very different; also, the spelling is not the same as is typical today (for instance the constitution contains the words “chuse”, “Pensylvania”, “controul” and “defence” [that is how the document actually spells them]; among others); and they documents use the long s (an archaic form of a letter that cursive classes never mention even exists); add to that the fact that I have seen the originals of them for myself, and the writing is faded to the point of being barely legible; I could also add that the original version of the constitution capitalizes the first letters of common nouns, something that has vanished from English today, but should seem familiar if you have learned German as a foreign language like I have, but I think the point is clear even without that

    D. reading the originals requires a trip to a specific room in Washington DC, which only a few people are able to do. and also, even if you can read cursive, you cannot read them in whole, as the displays they are on are permanently exposed to the first page only; so good luck with your impression of Nicholas Cage in the movie “National Treasure”; as that is the only way you will have the chance to read more than the 1st page of the originals; which you will be able to enjoy your new knowledge of them from prison, as stealing the original copies of the constitution or the declaration of independence is one of the most serious forms of theft from the US government possible, so expect to be on the FBI wanted list, for life, even if you somehow avoid jail; anyone dedicated enough to do all that will have certainly studied reading cursive enough to read it even if cursive is not taught in schools

    E. even if this is a skill that is taught, it is so niche that it should be AN ELECTIVE ONLY, some will choose to take it, some will not; if there are still historians, archeologists, and linguistics scholars who can read Hieroglyphics, Ancient Greek, Latin, Old English, Sanskrit, and Cuneiform, we can be sure a few will take that class

    in short, cursive is both not needed, and not enough to read those documents in the original; and should be consigned to an elective like Latin. there is a distinction between skills vital enough that everyone should have them, and those that a few specialists need (and can learn without forcing the rest of us to spend hours learning it)

    4. the what if digital devices are unavailable/ fail argument: if that happens, we can use print handwriting, which is easier to read, easier to write, faster to write period in my opinion, and undeniably faster to write legibly, looks like what we see in books and on those digital devices; and which no one is seriously proposing getting rid of; many proponents of cursive seem to be conflating handwriting with cursive, when cursive is a single exceptionally difficult and pompous looking variety of handwriting; don’t confuse a single exceptionally ornate and outdated form of a concept with the whole of the concept. indeed if we just need handwriting and any handwriting will do, in the absence of a particular reason otherwise, it makes sense to use the easiest form of handwriting

    5. the dyslexia argument: this one is simply false, I am mildly dyslexic myself, and cursive didn’t help me at all with spelling or writing, and in some ways made it worse. Cursive has more letters that look like each other then print does.

    6. the signature argument: legally signatures do not have to be in cursive; they don’t even have to resemble your name. signatures can be printed, x marks, black letter, letters of the Russian alphabet, Chinese characters, a stick figure drawing of a cartoon character, a form of cursive other then palmer method (such as copperplate, Spenserian or Getty-Dubay) random squiggles, or something else; all that matters is that it is distinctive. most cursive signatures degenerate into squiggles anyway.

    7. the letters from grandma argument: honestly, I find it unrealistic in several ways; for one I have never seen my grandparents write in cursive, ever. also, someone else can transliterate them. as mentioned previously, learning to read something does not absolutely require being able to write it yourself. also, I think grandma has a problem if she is sending people letters in a form of handwriting they cannot read, surely the burden should be on the person sending the letters to make them legible to the recipient. If they are addressed to someone else, then maybe its not our business to read them

    8. the beauty argument is ridiculous for several reasons. For one, there is much better out there, if you want beautiful looking letters, try Bengali as a foreign language. The letters of Bengali (especially, but not limited to “kô” the first letter in their equivalent of alphabetical order) blow even the best looking written English out of the water. if you have seen what Bengali looks like, you can’t possibly tell me that ‘b’s that look like ‘l’s, ‘n’s that sometimes look like ‘m’s, ‘q’s that look like 2s or z’s that look like a cut open human heart (or at least that is the closest describable thing they look like to me), or similar forms are better looking than Bengali kô, and you don’t have to be able to read or speak Bengali to think those letters are good looking. if we want everyone’s writing to look pretty, we should learn Bengali, not cursive; but off that tangent. Two, most people’s cursive is truly ugly and awful, only a few people can write cursive in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Three, beauty is a subjective opinion, and mandates that apply to all should not be based on subjective opinions unique to some; I find the form of cursive taught in schools to be very ugly with the sole exception of the letters s and c (the former only when lowercase). Four, there is pretty looking print as well, for instance try Gaelic Type, I find it much prettier and more legible then cursive. Five, aesthetic concerns are not a good reason to mandate that all people put a lot of hard work into something. It would be different if only people who voluntarily chose too put the work in though, but cursive as an elective would meet that criteria, mandatory cursive does not.

    9. the “creativity” argument: this one is absurd; you want me to believe a highly regimented and standardized process that is extremely difficult improves creativity? creativity is doing things in you own way, not conforming to a standardized model.

    10. the “individuality” argument: this is the last argument, just phrased in an even more absurd manner. Individuality comes from doing things your own way, as you see fit, without regard to how others do them. A highly regimented and standardized modal that everyone has to conform to (and make no mistake, that is how cursive is taught), is the opposite of that. To argue otherwise is to define the meaning out of the English language and say “up is down”, “large is small”, “black is white”, “life is death”, and “hot is cold”. Individuality can also never be forced, forcing someone to be an individual with mandates is a logical contradiction in terms. Mandates and requirements can only destroy individuality, never create it.

    11. the “not hard argument”: this one is flat out false, at least for some of us; cursive in fact often takes a long time, some people may get it immediately, but others make take over a year of tedious practice for several hours a day, and still never get the hang of it. Cursive is in fact very hard, and takes forever to master. Print letter shapes are simpler, more constantly reinforced by seeing them in books, etc; and can be written “close enough”. Additionally even 15 minutes a day every weekday adds up to a lot of time, over the course of a month it already amounts to 5 hours.

    12. the “knowledge” argument: this one could be used to justify a lot of things it is not used for. The language of Irish Gaelic is “knowledge”, should we mandate everyone in America learn that? Not bad mouthing Gaelic, I am doing a self-paced online course for learning it right now, and enjoying it; but that does not mean I think all the schools in America should require everyone to learn it. Reading hieroglyphs is also “knowledge”. So is knowing how to use an abacus, or shoe a horse. This has other applications, for instance it is in fact knowledge to know how to burp exceptionally loudly. All the above forms of knowledge should be available for those who want them to obtain, but we should not spend 5 minutes a century requiring every single person to master them, which is what cursive in the elementary school classroom does. In fact there are so many forms of knowledge that if we required everyone to learn absolutely everything, no one would ever graduate, and the schools would last several times the human life span at least, and there would be no freedom anywhere. You don’t want that do you? When it comes to the knowledge we require everyone to have, we must be choosy. In my view only the essential stuff should be mandatory, the burden must be on proponents of something to prove why it is essential. Cursive supporters have not done that.

    if you have any that are not subsets of those, tell me so I can knock it down.

    I will concede that cursive does have the “advantage” of looking more pompous.

    on the other hand, the case against cursive included among other things, the freedom argument (that the default position is you are not required to, but can if you want to), but also the fact that we cannot teach everything to everyone, so the things we mandate everyone learn should be limited to things with clear benefits. additionally, there are hundred of more relevant things that time could be used for. also, for many people (including myself, but others to an even greater degree) cursive is awful, they just cannot write it, and even trying causes significant pain. to people who struggle with long handwriting anyway, cursive is pure torture. It is an open question whether I would rather be water boarded or write cursive, I would have to think hard. and I know of people who have worse experiences with cursive then I did! I would prioritize peoples freedom from serious physical pain over what nostalgic luddites who don’t know what century they live in think looks good, at least when it comes to what people are required to do, even if you think it looks nice, it is grossly selfish not to in that situation. I am not necessarily calling for an end to cursive, I am calling for an end to compulsory cursive.

    there are things that are and should be desire dependent, those who want them should have them, but no other people should. to disagree with that is to accept the principle underlying totalitarianism. all the actual facts in the modern era place cursive in that category. Cursive should be TAUGHT AS AN ELECTIVE ONLY. it is no more essential then Latin, and in my subjective opinion, less interesting. I am very confident that a substantial minority would take the elective. the people who are specifically interested, and no one else, should learn cursive. LET CURSIVE SURVIVE AS AN ELECTIVE!!!!!

    *Ipse dixit is a phrase that refers to something that is asserted without any proof, or reason the thing is the case, or explanation of how the thing is the case. a statement of that type is dogmatically Asserted and then one tries to opt out of logical argument all together. the term from a Latin phrase that translates as “he said it himself”, Cicero used the phrase to describe things simply dogmatically asserted; which is generally what cursive proponents are doing about why it should be taught. please note that most of these individual paragraphs contain far more detailed reasons as to why my opinion is the case then cursive mandate proponents have offered

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