Without cursive, who will read our old documents?

alisandeSeptember 6, 2013

This morning my cousin Roderick in England sent me a PDF image of the London marriage certificate of my great-grandparents. In addition to listing the bride and groom, it gives the names of their fathers and the fathers' profesions.

As I looked at the certificate, carefully handwritten in beautiful script, I wondered who will be able to read it, and other handwritten documents, in the future. I don't know why schools have stopped teaching cursive writing, but I think it's going to have serious repercussions.

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Not all schools have stopped teaching cursive! Why do you think that they have?

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 11:29AM
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ravencajun Zone 8b TX

I agree 100% that was one of the dumbest things they have ever done.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 11:29AM
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ravencajun Zone 8b TX

I saw it on the news, many have stopped. I applaud any that have not but it is most definitely on the decline among the young people. I have run in to several that could not read it at all.

Is cursive's day in classroom done?

Cursive handwriting disappearing from public schools - Washington Post

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 11:42AM
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No, not all schools. Not yet. But it appears to be coming. Here's an article from the Washington Post. Google stopped teaching cursive, and you'll find lots more from many sources.

Several years ago a friend of mine who teaches college English told me his incoming students were increasingly unable to read cursive. Much worse now.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 11:43AM
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ravencajun Zone 8b TX

It is not part of the "common core" teaching standards.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 11:48AM
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This has been one of my biggest peeves for a long time. My youngest son had a serious arm injury, I immediately took him to therapy so he could learn to use his left hand. When we met with the school in the fall, they said, oh he won't need that. He can just do everything on the keyboard. I was stunned. So much family history is going to be lost.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 11:54AM
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I first learned of this when a friend of mine told me about a year ago that she'd given her 12 yr old grandson a grocery list of things to get. He could only read a very little bit of it, so she then had to print the list. It's sad.


    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 12:00PM
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I think it's good brain exercise for kids to learn it. Although both my sons were taught cursive, they have always chosen to print anyway. Our school district taught D'Nealian printing. Many letters have little "tails" which is supposed to make learning cursive easier.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 12:05PM
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We have the same problem in our area (Ontario).
Our local paper ran an article where a young boy needed a passport because of his church, and he had no idea how to sign his name. The same with another gentleman, whose 14-yr-old grandson had no idea how to write a signature. Signing legal documents, cheques, all things come into play if penmanship isn't taught in schools.

Here is a link that might be useful: Why Johnny can't sign his name

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 12:06PM
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I guess you have to go to college to learn how nowadays. I have never seen such stupidity in all my days as the things that are happening NOW! I think devolution has taken it's tole!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 12:09PM
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I agree 100% I've been saying this for over a year now. Fortunately, the school district my DGS's go to still teach it. I would be teaching one of them if they didn't because he WANTS to learn it. He says printing is too slow!


    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 12:17PM
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We just moved to a new school system. We will see here. My kids have been taught it a bit. It is probably going to become like knowing a language. Only the "educated" will be able able to read it.

I went to parent teacher night last night. Kids aren't being taught spelling like has been done in the past. The school will instead emphasize groups of words like those with the "er" ending and what that means. They won't have spelling tests, but will focus on content. I don't like it, but the other kids are learning the same thing. I guess their generation will adapt for better or worse.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 12:42PM
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I think it's a normal part of the educational evolution. We abandoned calligraphy, feather pens with ink and slide rules a long time ago because these methods became outdated. I see cursive as the same thing.

I was taught in elementary school in the 90's but I don't write in cursive. I probably could if I had to but I don't remember the proper shapes of all of it because I don't use it. It's difficult to retain skills taught 20 years ago if you don't use them, and modern life does not require usage of cursive in day-to-day activities. I imagine any cursive taught in schools will promptly be forgotten. I would bet that people who write in cursive today have just memorized and integrated it from years and years of usage.

The main problem I see is that there are so many other things that need to be taught now that didn't exist 50 years ago, like computer and software skills. I think it's much more important that a child learn to operate a computer and use different programs than to learn cursive. If there's enough time after teaching the relevant skills, I am all for cursive being taught as I do think it's a link to our past, but I also see it as somewhat elective and not mandatory. I would MUCH rather my kids knew how to operate a computer and develop technological skills over learning cursive.

It is important to sign your name but I have seen very few signatures look like cursive. I know mine has evolved into a scribble and they require a printed name most of the time as well.

That being said, although I do understand why it's not taught, I still think it's valuable and if my child's school didn't teach it, I would teach them on my own, even if they forget it. I enjoy reading my grandma's handwritten notes in my birthday cards.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 1:03PM
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jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois

Just because one is at University level education, doesn't mean that communicating is at a higher level. For the past several years, I had almost daily contact with those students. Print everything, text everything, or email everything. The idea of putting pen/pencil to paper and writing was foreign.

What will my granddaughters do? I really don't want to be around when they are college age!


    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 1:06PM
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ravencajun Zone 8b TX

I was never thrilled about our grandchildren being home schooled, however with the downward turn the schools have taken I am actually glad. I think in the very near future the home schooled kids are going to be far ahead of the curve. Every one of our grandchildren can sign their names and write letters to us in cursive. They may not have the most beautiful handwriting but they can improve, at least they the ability. If I had children today that were not being taught things I feel are important and essential I would feel responsible to deliver the information to them myself. Which would be very difficult for parents that have full time jobs plus are maintaining a household.
One place that should never be compromised is the education of our children who will be our future.

I have a great friend that has been a school teacher for many years, he quit this past year. He was so disgusted and disappointed with what was happening. He is now a private tutor and very happy.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 1:15PM
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......and yet.....

This post was edited by jasdip on Fri, Sep 6, 13 at 14:14

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 2:13PM
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They'll probably make an app for that.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 6:54PM
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Jasdip, LOL

Maire_Cate, I laughed at your post, too, but you're probably right!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2013 at 7:09PM
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An article on this subject from NBC News today.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 10:04PM
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don't care... I write on all but the youngest dgk's cards ALL the time...my little 6 yo dgd actually is the best at making them out...her older cousins can't sigh...I also started teaching (but she lives too far away) the easier print letters to cursive..denelian (sp) printing...they were teaching it in santee ca school dist, in the 80's....

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 1:02PM
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Yes, D'Nealian writing was popular when I was homeschooling in the 80's.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 1:16PM
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Dad went to business college for a time, and his writing was rounded and beautiful - once I saw a letter from him a number of feet away in the post office and knew that it was his writing.

My writing wasn't too legible, in recent years ... and now that my fingers tend to quiver when I want them to behave themselves, things aren't improving.

ole joyful ... who agrees with your distress at the disappearance of cursive (which is faster)

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 7:19PM
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I asked daughter Amber, if they still taught it at the school where in a few years Alyssa will go. She is 2 1/2 right now. She did not know but said if they don't, she will teach it to her at home. I think it is a shame if they don't teach it any more.

Sue who likes to write but likes to type better in my older age.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 8:00PM
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I just have to add a note to this thread. Yesterday, I was jotting down a shopping list and my 54 year old son said "you know.... I can't read cursive writing anymore" after which we had a short discussion about it. He learned to read and write it in school.... but it has been so long, and I am the only one he knows that writes 'cursive'. Isn't that surprising? He has lived here for a year now...I've been writing lists all along, and he finally admits why he never takes them. Yes, I am just not prepared for 'that'.

BTW... I never really learned to print, and my printing is a mix of capital letters and small letters.... sometimes, I really do try, like when writing to the grand kids. I'm hopelessly inept! LOL

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 6:24PM
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That is surprising, Nanny. I would think it would ingrained in someone his age.

My printing is a little erratic, too, unless I pay attention to what I'm doing.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 7:45PM
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In the defense of my son, he is a writer, publisher, former successful book store owner, reads Latin and Aramic (sp?) Graduated from a Theology Seminary and reads and retains stuff amazingly well. He is a facinating man who really has added a stimulating addition to our lives, even tho he "works" and reads on his computer constantly. He currently is starting up another business (other than being our full time caregiver, which is really nice); publishing and writing, and spear-heading a global warming grass roots effort here in Oregon.. I don't think he realized that he had 'forgotten' how to read cursive until recently.... and was somewhat surprised himself. I guess "If you don't use it, you lose it" is true!

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 3:44AM
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I thought about this thread yesterday, when I wrote out a check and again when I signed for a 'cash card' purchase. I seldom write checks, as I pay most bills online, but I do pay for most of my in-person purchases with a card that pulls funds direct from my checking account. In both cases, I added my signature in cursive. Do people, who don't know how to write cursive, sign such things by printing their name? Is that considered a valid, legally binding signature? If not, why do so many forms and documents ask that you 'sign' your name, and also print it (for added legibility, I've always thought)?

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 6:39AM
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It will go the way of Shakespeare's Old English and German Gothic script. Language is a living thing unless it's Latin and it changes as people and culture change. Those who want to read old documents will learn it I guess. There is no way to stop things changing as much as we wish it.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 7:02AM
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I agree with Chi83, Ghoghunter, and Jasdip (except that I use algebra all the time!). Cursive writing is a lovely old thing, and I'm glad that my niece learned it, but unimportant in today's world.

Bemoaning the death of cursive writing reminds me of when I was in high school and had a calculator, but my father bemoaned the loss of the slide rule. He taught me to use one himself, as he thought it was important, but I promptly forgot it because I never had the need to use it.

As for a signature, cursive writing has never been required. An "X" will suffice. Your signature is whatever you want it to be, and many, if not most, are illegible anyway.

As for historical documents, I write cursive all the time, yet I have a tough time reading handwritten historical documents that are much more than 100 years old.

As an aside, I was bemoaning the fact that my niece is almost 12 and hasn't been taught to use a keyboard properly (not that *I* was taught before that age, but it's more important now). I was going on about how she needed to be able to use a keyboard when all of a sudden I thought of all the speech-to-text apps that are available now. Already, I dictate nearly all of my client notes. How much better will the software be by the time she's older? Maybe she won't need to use a keyboard.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 7:47AM
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I can't remember the last time I used my cursive writing skills! Kids can always learn cursive by using the script font. I had classic "teacher's handwriting" so I've been told. Skills needed are changing rapidly and I think the schools are wise to respond. I HAD to have Latin to enter a nursing program. What I actually used, could have been learned in 30 minutes maximum instead of the five years I had to take at the time. You lose what you don't use. Maybe tomorrows kids will use something akin to a graffiti symbol as their signature. Apple just released a phone yesterday that opens with a thumb print as the password. Can't be faked as a signature can. Hard to predict where technology will take us. Can see a day where we all have an implant in our brain and our thoughts are transmitted automatically without even speaking. HORRORS...I would need a self correct option certainly!

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 9:09AM
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Hopefully someone will add an addendum to the Rosetta Stone.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 12:51PM
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I think you all are right. And, as I have thought about my 'discovery', I realized that all the letters we have exchanged since he left school have been type written or computer printed, except for short notes on greeting cards. Also, the 'keyboards' on cell phones don't require 'keyboarding'.... and I am surprised at how fast I can 'keyboard" with a stylus and my I-Pad and phone. "Times: they really are a-changing".

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 1:40PM
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