A recent state law in Indiana was passed a few weeks ago to allow cursive handwriting to be taught in schools. Although not a mandatory subject, the law codified cursive handwriting as an “optional” subject.
Many educators and professionals think that reading and writing in cursive no longer has real merit or relevance. In an age of ever-changing technology with smartphones, tablets, and laptops, why would we need to learn and practice cursive handwriting? Even our signatures are electronic-based nowadays, with computerized chips and fingerprints.
Benefits of Cursive Handwriting
While a lot of people won’t care and will happily say sayonara to cursive handwriting, there are a few benefits to cursive handwriting that should be weighed first.
Writing in Cursive Is Faster
The truth is: writing in cursive is faster to execute. Once you learn how to write in cursive and practice it regularly, it’s a lot faster than writing in print because you don’t have to lift your hand from the page for each letter you write. And it puts less strain on your wrists and hands.
Cursive Handwriting Helps with Dyslexia and Hand-Eye Coordination
Evidence suggests that writing in cursive can help those who suffer from dyslexia. People with dyslexia have difficulty reading and writing because their brains associate sounds and letter combinations inefficiently. But writing in cursive can help them with the decoding process involved in reading and writing because it integrates hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and other brain and memory functions.
It’s also no secret that staring at a computer screen all day can lead to eye strain, headaches, irregular sleep patterns, and more. But it can also lead to deteriorating hand-eye coordination. And writing in cursive more often can help you get back your sensory-motor coordination, even if you don’t suffer from dyslexia.
Cursive Handwriting Enhances Reading Comprehension and Spelling Abilities
According to research highlighted in The New York Times, writing in cursive has been shown to improve brain development in areas of thinking, language, and working memory. Students who wrote in cursive on the essay portion of the SAT exam received higher scores because the speed and efficiency required when writing in cursive allowed the students to focus on the content of their essays. So, if you are reading an important document for work, you might want to consider writing notes about it in cursive to fully comprehend its content.
Additionally, because writing in cursive speeds up your writing process and doesn’t allow you to erase single letters from words as you write, you’re less likely to misspell words over time. So, if you want to perfect your spelling abilities, start writing in cursive more often.
Understanding Cursive Handwriting Allows You to Read Historical Documents
“If you don’t use it, you lose it,” is a very true statement to utter regarding one’s ability to read and write in cursive. If you don’t read and write in cursive often, then over time your aptitude to read and write in cursive will wane. And then it will become much harder to read original versions of historical documents like the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. And while this may not be important to a lot of people right now, imagine if only a handful of people in the world could read these important documents or were able to interpret their contents. And if you don’t think that that could happen, consider what happened to a lot of important original documents (legal and religious) that were written in Latin (the supposedly “dead language”), Old English, or hieroglyphs.
Problems with Cursive Handwriting
While there are many benefits to reading and writing in cursive, there are still some problems with it in the modern age.
Cursive Handwriting Has Limited Application on Electronic Devices
Truth is, content that’s “written” nowadays is not written in the literal sense of the word but is typed. Legal documents, articles, emails, memos, treatises, text books, etc. are all typed out in word processors. Therefore, it seems that cursive handwriting is already obsolete, as it doesn’t seem to have a real place or application in the real world. Who cares if you regularly read or write in cursive if you aren’t going to use it? There was, after all, a point in history when we stopped using wax seals for letters and documents, and a time when we stopped speaking and writing in Old English and using archaic or superfluous punctuation. Language and how it’s represented will always and should always be evolving with the times we live in, right? So, where does cursive handwriting fit in during this new technological era?
Cursive Handwriting Can Be Rigidly and Blindly Used and Taught in Schools
Another issue people have with cursive handwriting is that it is too rigidly enforced in schools’ curriculums for no real practical reason. Some people believe that, “The grip that cursive has on teaching [and its everyday application] is sustained by folklore and prejudice.” Ultimately, some people believe that there is no real reason for it to be taught in schools or used, and that it basically doesn’t offer the benefits listed above. Read this piece, Cursive Handwriting and Other Education Myths, to gain more perspective on this argument.
What do you think? Will or should cursive writing become obsolete? Have you experienced any real benefits to reading or writing in cursive? Share with us in the comments below.