Curse(ive)s, Foiled Again!

Cursive Writing In Indiana Schools Makes Way For Typing

The continuation of the dumbing down of American students took another large step on July 8th, 2011: “Indiana will stop requiring students to learn how to write cursive beginning this fall under a multi-state initiative to raise standards in schools” called Common Core.  In understanding that we are going electronic in all things written, the Indiana “intellectuals of policy” (my sarcastic parenthesis) have determined that legible handwriting is passe already. Cursive writing is now an “elective.”

Yes, I DO see the double standards here. I am writing about this NOT with pen in hand but on the computer, stroke by stroke. I learned how to type in Junior High School (not Middle School) starting in the 7th grade. While I was not fond of my typing teacher, she did impart on me how to type, and how to type well. But…not once did my typing take away from my hand writing and performance in writing. I just had to know BOTH.
Wow. What a concept, Mr. & Mrs. Indiana School Knuckle Heads: yes, I agree…keep our students competitive in the growing global market they will eventually (hopefully) enter. I whole heart agree with this.  It does make sense. Yet, you are also teaching the kids how they don’t have to worry about spelling or grammar, as the word processor will USUALLY make the fixes for the kids unless they use a homonym and the computer doesn’t pick up that it’s the wrong word in use.
So…good going in dumbing down the kids further. Bravo. Instead of insisting on both, let them give up more of educational opportunities. Challenge them? Don’t you dare! We have to cram for the testing ALL YEAR LONG!

This isn’t art? This isn’t beauty?

So, no more handwriting.  When a legal document needs a SIGNATURE, will an X suffice again? What if they don’t even learn to hold a pen or pencil…or worse, Indiana, you are the beginning of the fall of Bic! More people out of work, since learning how to write…pfff…who needs it?

There is a beauty in good penmanship, an art in calligraphy, and it’s now being relegated to the trash bin. Read the link attached: one parent, named in the article, not here: she made a fool of herself enough in my eyes, by stating:

“I recently wrote a letter and it was tiring and cumbersome. It felt very quaint, as if I had a feather quill and an ink well.”

Yes, a parent. Dumbing down of America starts at the top. Way to go, Indiana education policy makers!!

I am wondering about one thing: the people who decided this, are their children in Private Schools where you know they would never stand for the elimination of things like this? Just wondering.

ABC News on The End of Cursive Writing

45 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Corinne Rodrigues
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 00:23:25

    Coming from a generation that didn’t have computers in school and then moving to using a computer all the time I know what I miss when I don’t use a pen. There’s just something about writing with a pen that makes you put in a lot more thought in to what you write. Like you said, spellings is another thing. The spellings I see on blogs out there is appalling – it’s obvious spell-check is not a dependable tool. This is like having kids do all their math on a calculator! I recall a great post I read recently on the subject of maths – thought you might enjoy it too –


  2. Mike
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 02:19:49

    Great post. All the more reason to home school kids because the public systems are a joke.


  3. Maureen Hunter
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 06:14:47

    Unbelievable! Hopefully the nonsense doesnt spread to Australia, though based on past experience probably will. It does indeed make you wonder! I can understand why so many parents these days are opting for home schooling.


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  5. Thom Brown
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 09:09:20

    If the rationale is to “raise standards,” it makes it sound like they can’t learn ‘rithmetic and ‘riting at the same time. I don’t suppose they replaced mandatory cursive with mandatory touch typing? You could make a weak case for that.

    Spelling checkers are helpful but as you note problematic. I have a target list of about a dozen homonyms when I grade. If they’re/there/their spelling checker doesn’t catch it, then it’s/its going to cost them a third of a letter grade (3 points) for each instance. At the college senior level, each instance costs them a letter grade. I give them the target list.


    • bornstoryteller
      Jul 09, 2011 @ 09:11:46

      Thom: what they are replacing it with is spelled (pun intended) out in the linked article. I’m just livid at this.


      • Thom Brown
        Jul 09, 2011 @ 09:32:48

        Noted. And I see speed is the standard – rarely a good thing. I’d want to see true touch typing. Actually what i want to see is both touch typing and cursive, but my wife says I’m becoming a cranky old man.

        There really is something special and important about putting pen to paper, but then when I was a senior college administrator I insisted on using a fountain pen whenever my signature was required.

        What would be a reasonable accommodation to the standard for someone like me who can use only one hand? Half – one page in a sitting?

        We shall continue to dumb down American education until we are, at best, in last place among developed nations. Maybe lower if we continue to believe that knowledge is whatever we want it to be/say it is – as several of our political celebrities seem the think.

    • bornstoryteller
      Jul 09, 2011 @ 09:35:00

      Tell the Mrs. that sometimes the cranky old men are right. Not always, but, esp in this case.


      • Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A.
        Jul 09, 2011 @ 09:40:29

        Letting our brains atrophy so we can continue to vote for the dumbest candidate seems to be the goal here! Data proves that handwriting is a critical motor skill AND a critical brain management skill. So, why WOULD we teach it?
        The goal is to insure us dumb enough to believe the big lie always- and vote them in. (Want to balance the budget? Let’s spend nothing. Then, we don’t need any taxes….
        Oh, your road just collapsed and swallowed your car? Why didn’t YOU pay to repair it yourself?)

      • bornstoryteller
        Jul 09, 2011 @ 09:49:47

        Roy…could not agree with you more. Share share share.

  6. cathy jones tittle
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 09:44:54

    Interesting that people think cursive writing is defunct. I have to write summaries on the progress notes every week for up to 20+ clients in my program and guess what?…I write in cursive! Hours of it every week, so NO mom and dad, it isn’t obsolete, but may be with steps like that taken in schools.

    Thanks Stu…food for thought.


  7. Thomas Approbato
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 10:16:32

    As someone whose penmanship has not improved much since kindergarten, I was thrilled when computers became more accessible. Of course, I was out of High School by this point. I am a product of the New York City public education system. Teachers taught to the degree that children wanted to learn. If you were interested, you were encouraged to learn more and do more. Cursive writing was simply a part of your overall education. Knowing how to spell was also part of it. I love that spell check exists so when my fast (fat) fingers type away, it can be flagged for review. But there are many younger friends of mine are lazy and often misspell or use the wrong homonym (as someone else already pointed out) when writing. “Your looking nice today,” gives me hives! It is foolish to remove part of any educational curriculum because it is “challenging.” We are supposed to be challenged!

    As a poet, I do most of that writing by hand. It encourages my creative writing process. When I write stories, it is often on the computer. Encouraging the use of tools is good. However, we should not forsake some of the basics such as hand writing! Cursive writing is beautiful and should not be forsaken for


    • bornstoryteller
      Jul 09, 2011 @ 10:20:51

      Thomas, again…it’s this weakening of our educational system. If we went back to what learning used to be, things like this would not happen. Yes, we have entered into a new world of electronic info and communications.

      I wonder what will happen when someone suggests No Oral Presentations: the kids don’t speak, so let them just use the computer.


    • Thom Brown
      Jul 09, 2011 @ 10:24:18

      Typing on the computer is linear, essentially one dimensional, and creativity rarely is. At least using pen and paper allows one to move around the page(s) in two dimensions.


  8. Thomas Approbato
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 10:17:34

    the purposes of keeping young people unchallenged.


  9. Bridgette Booth
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 11:58:16

    I’m a homeschooler who taught handwriting to my children until the 7th grade. (Completely 18th century, I know.) However, we used a popular script program that is pretty to write and read, but my children DID have trouble learning to read the more traditional Palmer-styled cursive handwriting. In fact, I got to where I was teaching a mini-course each year with them on reading others’ writing.

    I wonder if Indiana schools will teach a course in reading cursive? Our experience taught me that it’s not as easy as we assume when you don’t learn the strokes yourself.


    • bornstoryteller
      Jul 09, 2011 @ 18:32:56

      Hi Bridgette:
      according to the article, cursive writing will ONLY be taught as an elective. No mention reading. Yeah..original source material written in cursive lettering will eventually be unreadable to future generations. Thanks for stopping by.


  10. Joy Page Manuel
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 21:20:42

    This is infuriating!! I can’t seem to run out of expletives in my head right now. This is just plain crazy. I’m still hoping none of this is final and that this won’t spread to other states. This just doesn’t make sense!


  11. Jennifer Perry
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 04:45:40

    Sad, but not surprising, story. “Tiring and cumbersome?” Yeah, a real think tank exists in Indiana.
    Great title.


  12. Alejandro
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 09:17:24

    I for one don’t write with pen anymore as I can’t read what I wrote.. saying that I am glad I know how to write, so those reading have no clue what I wrote. lol

    What a load of croc in Indiana.. Where are the Jone’s Boys?



    • bornstoryteller
      Jul 10, 2011 @ 09:23:44

      It’s like anything: if we don’t practice it often, we lose it.

      I just feel it should be both, and that it should start out young with WRITING and then advance to computer. Again, that’s my opinion.


  13. MuMuGB
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 11:05:24

    Sad but with computers I think it was just unavoidable. My daughters will be delighted. I am not. Maybe a generation thing.


  14. Victoria Hart
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 13:18:25

    As a former elementary teacher and principal, I believe cursive or D’nealian should be taught to transition students from block lettering (manuscript) to script. It may not need to be emphasized as much in the future as it has been in the past but it still needs to be taught because there are times when people do not have access to a computer or a keyboard and need to be able to read and write in cursive.

    Children need practice in eye hand coordination and fine motor skills as well as tracing, copying, and imitating. Learning cursive provides students with practice in letter identification and letter combinations they are likely to see and use in words. Some teachers use cursive writing to reinforce letter sounds. Children need to learn how to read text presented in cursive.

    I think teaching handwriting is more than a penmanship exercise. It helps children organize and format their work on a page or piece of paper. Legibility should be encouraged prior to speed. In some ways, learning to write in cursive is a “rite of passage” for children.

    Yes, children need to learn keyboarding skills as well. I think it is important for children to be able to identify letters and words as they appear when using different types of fonts. With the advances in speech recognition technology, how much longer will we be using keyboards?

    Cursive writing is generally introduced in 3rd grade. Is that the appropriate age and grade to teach keyboarding skills to children?

    Rather than continue to substitute one curriculum area for another in an effort to deal with time constraints of the school day and year, why not extend the amount of actual instructional time to introduce new curricula and to encourage mastery of skills and concepts.

    Is the demise of cursive writing a harbinger of doom for pencils, pens, and paper? Will our digital society eventually revert to using scribes and calligraphers?


  15. Tori Mize
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 09:01:54

    I have to respectfully disagree.
    I have thought about the best way to go about it- because honestly, this is an issue that I can see that people are passionate about. The thing is- this is where you find the difference between a leader and an activist. An activist may be a leader, yes and a leader may be an activist- but unless you are both, the leader you follow needs to be wise, needs to be able to balance and above all: needs to understand compromise.

    Our school systems face serious budget issues. I like many others am extremely disgusted with the short end of the stick that education gets. This seems to grow more and more all the time: but as much as I would love to say: NO COMPROMISE! This is unfortunately, not how a bureaucracy works. There are some who are called to fight the system: That is wonderful. I always encourage that and am often active within those circles. However, in the meantime- all our hardline stances on either side do is injure the children. It harms their education, and while we may have the best of intentions: this is neither efficient nor particularly effective use of our resources and time.

    The problem I have, here, though and what keeps me at odds is- it seems as though every time teachers and those who value education are willing to compromise: they get crapped on in return. So, there is clearly no easy answer here.

    The biggest issue I take with the arts being lost- and yes, I’ll lump cursive in with that, is that they are being lost out to sports programs more often than not. Sadly, the bureaucratic stance on this is actually valid: sporting events do in fact generate more revenue for the schools. I don’t feel that this is a significant reason to promote sports over the arts- at all. What I think is that the budget cuts we see need to stop- however, these things take time. They take time and effort- but it is a worthwhile time and effort.


    • bornstoryteller
      Jul 11, 2011 @ 19:59:12

      Thank you Tori. Compromise is a key component. That is why I feel BOTH need to be taught, and I still feel that what harms this is that so much is done to prep them for a test, not to learn.

      My biggest “fear”… 100yrs, from now, who will be able to read or appreciate the source material? What if we DO lose all our electrical systems due to an energy crisis? The retraining, if even possible, has to start all over again.


  16. charlie nitric
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 12:02:18

    Hey Stuart –

    OMG let’s start giving out legislative grades for stupidity. Unbelievable!!!


  17. Penelope J.
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 13:49:17

    First Indiana, then where next? No doubt this will spread to other states. Anyway, it’s already happening. Kids barely know how to hand write these days, let alone cursive, which affects every other aspect of their writing. That’s why grammar and spelling is so atrocious. They depend on the computer to correct their primitive language skills, and the computer doesn’t know the difference between “it’s” (noun and verb) and the possessive “its” (without apostrophe) and in fact, even mis -corrects the latter. I was taught to write with a fountain pen and an inkwell – old-fashioned style – but some of the greatest literature of all times was penned like this or with a feather quill. When I have a particularly demanding scene or description, I write it by hand and cursive, even a scrawl, makes it easier. Recently, I watched a video of Steve Jobs addressing a university graduating class. One of the things he said was that he went to a university that specialized in the almost lost art of calligraphy, and that was where he got his first ideas about font design, etc.


  18. Anna
    Jul 12, 2011 @ 10:53:29

    Wow! I think the Indiana School system has lost sight of what it means to become technically savvy to sustain a competitive advantage. What they don’t realize is that when you write in cursive, and especially for children, you are using a specific part of your brain that is necessary for synthesis. Cursive writing allows children to develop their fine motor skills, improve their eye-and-hand coordination, and d evelop their cognitive abilities at a faster rate.

    I remember reading about Johns Hopkins University, which published a study in Science Magazine that showed that their subject’s brains actually changed in reaction to physical instruction such as cursive handwriting lessons. They also demonstrated that these changes resulted in an “almost immediate improvement in fluency,” which led to later development of neural pathways. The researchers found that as a result of practicing motor skills, knowledge becomes more stable. Children who learned cursive were more likely to be successful academically.

    If you look at history, humans were always compelled to “write”/”draw” on caves, on pottery, and on everything that could be chiseled or carved. There’s a basic human need to write and I think there is empirical data supporting the need to keep cursive in the mainstream.

    Our handwriting is as unique as our fingerprints – it defines us in a way that reveals our personality. That’s why we have handwriting analysts. Think about it: if we’re all taught cursive in the same way, why does everyone end up with different handwriting, which changes and evolves as we age?

    I am just so very grateful that my son’s private school teaches and enforces cursive writing, which must be learned fully and completely by the end of the second grade.


    • bornstoryteller
      Jul 12, 2011 @ 18:11:33

      Anna: thank you. Yes, they, and many other USA states, have lost sight of what will be necessary for the future. This is all short sighted planning. Um…planning. Not sure if that’s the right thing to say.


  19. Home School Coach
    Jul 12, 2011 @ 22:17:18

    I am appalled and astonished. Of course writing can be tiring and so can reading and doing math, problem solving and cleaning house, gardening, nurturing children and the list goes on. However, knowing how to do these things is wise! How can we raise a wise generation that doesn’t know how to sign their name or take pen to paper. I am just in unbelief!!!!!!!


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