Handwriting matters — but does cursive matter? The research is surprising. For instance, it has been documented that legible cursive writing
averages no faster than printed handwriting of equal or greater legibility. (Sources for all research are listed below.)
Further research demonstrates that the fastest, clearest handwriters are neither the print-writers nor the cursive writers. The highest speed and
highest legibility in handwriting are attained by those who join only some letters, not all of them – making only the simplest of joins, omitting
the rest, and using print-like shapes for letters whose printed and cursive shapes disagree.
Reading cursive matters, but even children can be taught to read writing that they are not taught to produce. Reading cursive can be taught in just 30
to 60 minutes — even to five- or six-year-olds, once they read ordinary print. (In fact, now there's even an iPad app to teach how: named "Read
Cursive," of course — appstore.com...
.) So why not simply teach children to read cursive — along with teaching other vital
skills, including some handwriting style that's actually typical of effective handwriters?
Educated adults increasingly quit cursive. In 2012, handwriting teachers were surveyed at a conference hosted by Zaner-Bloser, a publisher of cursive
textbooks. Only 37 percent wrote in cursive; another 8 percent printed. The majority — 55 percent — wrote a hybrid: some elements resembling
print-writing, others resembling cursive. When even most handwriting teachers do not themselves use cursive, why mandate it?
Cursive's cheerleaders sometimes allege that cursive makes you smarter, makes you stunningly graceful, adds brain cells, instills proper etiquette and
patriotism, or confers other blessings no more prevalent among cursive users than elsewhere. Some claim research support, citing studies that
consistently prove to have been misquoted or otherwise misrepresented by the claimant.
So far, whenever a devotee of cursive claims the support of research, one or more of the following things has become evident when others examine the
/1/ either the claim provides no traceable source,
/2/ if a source is cited, it is misquoted or is incorrectly described (e.g., an Indiana University research study comparing print-writing with
keyboarding is perennially misrepresented by cursive's defenders as a study "comparing print-writing with cursive"),
/3/ the claimant _correctly_ quotes/cites a source which itself indulges in either /1/ or /2/.
What about signatures? In state and federal law, cursive signatures have no special legal validity over any other kind. (Hard to believe? Ask any
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 writing, not just cursive, is individual — just as all writing 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.
Handwriting research on speed and legibility:
/1/ Arthur Dale Jackson. “A Comparison of Speed and Legibility of Manuscript and Cursive Handwriting of Intermediate Grade Pupils.”
Ed. D. Dissertation, University of Arizona, 1970: on-line at www.eric.ed.gov...
/2/ Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, and Naomi Weintraub. “The Relation between Handwriting Style and Speed and Legibility.” JOURNAL OF
EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH, Vol. 91, No. 5 (May - June, 1998), pp. 290-296: on-line at www.jstor.org...
/3 Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, Naomi Weintraub, and William Schafer. “Development of Handwriting Speed and Legibility in Grades 1-9.”
JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH, Vol. 92, No. 1 (September - October, 1998), pp. 42-52: on-line at www.jstor.org...
Zaner-Bloser handwriting survey: Results on-line at www.hw21summit.com...
Background on our handwriting, past and present:
3 videos, by a colleague, show why cursive is NOT a sacrament:
A BRIEF HISTORY OF CURSIVE —
TIPS TO FIX HANDWRITING —
HANDWRITING AND MOTOR MEMORY
(shows how to develop fine motor skills WITHOUT cursive) —
Yours for better letters,
Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works
edit on 5/19/2014 by 12m8keall2c because: personal contact info and website link removed]