Cursive – Becoming a Lost Art?

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​I took my daughter to the bank last Saturday to open a checking account and get a debit card. Opening an account at the bank is not a speedy process and requires a lot of verifying information on the banker’s keypad. After providing her birth certificate, her social security card, and selecting a debit card design, the banker asked my daughter for her signature on his keypad. He asked her, “Can you sign your name?” She and I looked at him cockeyed as she complied. He viewed her signature and said, “Wow, you have nice handwriting and I can actually read it. Probably eighty percent of young people opening accounts can’t sign their name.” Sensing my confusion he explained, “You would be surprised at how many people can’t write in cursive and have no signature. Last week one kid drew an emoji for his signature.”
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I’m solidly in the “keep teaching cursive in our schools” camp. Do you remember your grandmother’s handwriting? I do. My grandmother’s cursive was perfect. Both my parents had distinctive signatures and lovely handwriting. While I think my handwriting pales in comparison, my daughters think I have a beautiful handwriting. I feel fortunate that they went to an elementary school where cursive was taught and expected.

Almost all communication today is typed (often using the hunt and peck method) via a computer, tablet, or smart phone. Convenient? Yes. But do we want to live in a world where the only alternative to typing is writing in rudimentary print?

I appreciate receiving a handwritten note and I’m not alone. Recently six colleagues from other cities spent a week in Orlando assisting my office. All of them travel on a regular basis. I sent each a handwritten thank you note and without exception, each commented with genuine appreciation (and surprise).

Besides having an actual signature and the ability to write in cursive, children should be able to read cursive. It’s frightening to think about a generation of young adults unable to read documents like the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution, or sentimental heirlooms like their grandmother’s handwritten recipe cards. Like recess (another post for another time) penmanship has an important place in education. Learning cursive fosters fine motor skills and is a civilized skill that should not be lost in the education shuffle.

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Do you think cursive should be required? If not, will you teach your child how to sign their name in cursive?

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