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KateGladstone

Handwriting matters — does cursive? Research shows that legible cursive writing averages no faster than printed handwriting of equal or greater legibility. (Sources for all research are available on request.) The highest speed and highest legibility in handwriting are attained by those who join only some letters, not all: joining only the most easily joined letter-combinations, leaving the rest unjoined, and using print-like shapes for letters whose printed and cursive shapes disagree.

Reading cursive matters — but is much easier and quicker to master than writing the same way too. Reading cursive, simply reading it, can be taught in just 30 to 60 minutes — even to five- or six-year-olds (including those with dyslexia) once they read ordinary print.

Educated adults increasingly quit cursive. In 2012, handwriting teachers across North America were surveyed at a conference hosted by Zaner-Bloser, a publisher of cursive textbooks. Only 37% wrote in cursive; another 8% printed. The majority — 55% — wrote with some elements resembling print-writing, others resembling cursive.



When even most handwriting teachers do not themselves use cursive, why glorify it?

Cursive’s cheerleaders (with whom I’ve had some stormy debates) sometimes allege that cursive has benefits which justify absolutely anything said or done to promote that form of handwriting. The cheerleaders for cursive repeatedly state (sometimes in sworn testimony before school boards and state legislatures) that cursive cures dyslexia or prevents it, that it makes you pleasant and graceful and intelligent, that it adds brain cells, that it instills proper etiquette and patriotism, or that it confers numerous other blessings which are no more prevalent among cursive users than among the rest of the human race. Some claim research support — citing studies that invariably prove to have been misquoted or otherwise misrepresented by the claimant.

When a devotee of cursive claims the support of research, one or more of the following things becomes evident as soon as others examine the claim:

/1/ either the claim provides no source,

or

/2/ the source turns out to have been misquoted or incorrectly paraphrased by the person citing it, 

or

/3/ the claimant correctly quotes/cites a source which itself indulges in either /1/ or /2/.



Those who actually think about the research (as they should) owe it to themselves — and future generations — to learn from a researcher at the University of Calgary: Hetty Roessingh, who notes that the benefits of handwriting (in any form) are best provided in the “italic” handwriting systems — in other words, the systems where cursive doesn’t depend on joining every letter because it begins with a stage of fluent printing and retains those print-like forms when joining is introduced in just the most practical places and NOT otherwise: see video and story at https://globalnews.ca/video/5847024/the-lost-art-of-handwriting-why-a-calgary-professor-believes-its-so-important and https://www.680news.com/2019/09/04/children-education-handwriting/

By now, you’re probably wondering: “What about cursive and signatures? Will we still have legally valid signatures if we stop signing our names in cursive?” Brace yourself: in law, cursive signatures have no special legal validity over any other kind. (Hard to believe? Ask any attorney!)

 Questioned document examiners (these are specialists in the identification of signatures, the verification of documents, etc.) inform me that the least forgeable signatures are the plainest. Most cursive signatures are loose scrawls: the rest, if they follow the rules of cursive at all, are fairly complicated: these make a forger’s life easy.

All handwriting, not just cursive, is individual — just as all handwriting involves fine motor skills. That is why any first-grade teacher can immediately identify (from the print-writing on unsigned work) which of 25 or 30 students produced it.

Mandating cursive to preserve handwriting resembles mandating stovepipe hats and crinolines to preserve the art of tailoring.

Kate Gladstone

DIRECTOR, the World Handwriting Contest

CEO, Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works

http://www.HandwritingThatWorks.com

handwritingrepair@gmail.com

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