Just a few weeks ago, a bill was passed in the US state of Indiana declaring that all students in public schools must be taught to use cursive script. At almost exactly the same time, I finally felt defeated by cursive writing.
I have three children, a degree in maths, a postgraduate teaching qualification and am halfway through a theology degree. However, I can’t help my seven-year-old with his homework – it’s like a foreign language in a non-Roman alphabet.
Cursive script was installed as a whole-school policy around four years ago. I attended an information evening where the school called on research and the success of a nearby school with their handwriting. My eldest son, now heading off to high school, had to re-learn as they had a well-established writing policy which, helpfully, involved him writing in a way his parents could understand. I do hark back to those good old days.
It isn’t just as a parent that I get frustrated. Anyone who marks high-school maths papers and gets to “those ones who were taught in cursive” will share my dread. Algebra is so hard to mark when you can’t tell a “t” from an “f”. When you get the pupil to check, he ponders, waves his arms at the paper and proclaims, “I think it was a ‘j’, sir?” And I think to myself, “If you can’t read it, how can I?”
Google “cursive writing” and you see a significant number of resources, many with a cost attached. I even got an app for my iPad, but finding a “non-vertical asymptote” is much easier that following its instructions for a capital “H” (five steps, each with a different direction).
There is lots of enthusiasm for this and everyone states their findings with genuine integrity. Some truth clearly lies in its benefit for some children with specific learning difficulties, but that wouldn’t be cause for a whole-school implementation.
What of the point that cursive was the norm before printers needed plain print? Now they can cursive…