An art, that I fear is being lost and dumped into the educational file thirteen, is that of cursive writing.



I know …I know…I’m going to go on-and-on about when I was in school.

Well, I am!

We spent a great deal of time copying and practicing on those newsprint tablets. We were even graded on it; it was part of our grammar school GPA, for heaven sakes. It was called, penmanship… the art, skill, or technique of writing by hand. Remember that?

There is nothing more beautiful, in my mind, than the fluid flourish and sweep of the hand, writing a cursive signature. It can also resemble chicken scratches…but…a beautiful handwritten anything, is to be treasured.

We’ve all gone through the stages of deciding what our signature was going to look like. Long ago and far away, I practiced on the front of my notebooks, stationary, napkins, yearbooks, and of course those cute autograph books that had the nifty key attached… so no one would sneak a peek at our most private hand written exchanges.


Can you imagine, the Declaration of Independence signed in a printed hand or worse yet—computer fonts?

What about those precious letters from the past, we’ve discovered in the attic?


 Ugh…it gives me chills to think of it!

I am pleased that some schools are reintroducing this, soon to be, lost form of writing.  My grandchildren’s school offers cursive writing, and they love it.

Mother, Corn Rose, had beautiful penmanship. I loved to watch her write letters. She would often draw little illustrations in the margins of her letters to explain something she couldn’t find the words for. It seemed effortless for her and I tried to emulate her style, but it was a futile.

Down deep, I think she felt my southpaw affliction put me at a disadvantage.

What will become of the cursive signature that we are asked to provide on a myriad of documents? Where it says, “Please print your name on this line and your signature on the other,” will we simply print both—will they do away with it altogether—maybe use a stamp with our name on it?

I know… you’re probably thinking some should stop trying to sign their names. It’s like trying to read hieroglyphics… you know who they are. They were white coats.


Anyway, I think cursive is worth saving. It’s teaches a grace and beauty that can adorn so many things in our lives that is uniquely our own.




images from the internet 2013

3 thoughts on “Cursive

  1. I love writing by hand when I have time and pride myself on my penmanship because you can read it! When I was a bank teller my customers were amazed at my writing speed and the fact that you could read every letter and number. I was appalled at some of the signatures that looked like nothing readable at all and the way some people wrote out a check! That made me very aware of how it is very important to write checks legibly. Of course, people probably won’t have to write many checks in the future. I also loved practicing my writing on those yellow tablets!


  2. Handwriting matters — but does cursive matter? The fastest, clearest handwriters join only some letters: making the easiest joins, skipping others, using print-like forms of letters whose cursive and printed forms disagree. (Sources below.)

    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 — .) 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 most handwriting teachers quit cursive, why exalt it?

    What about signatures? In state and federal 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, then 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 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, six months into the school year, any first-grade teacher can immediately identify (from print-writing on unsigned work) which student 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/ 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

    /2/ 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

    Zaner-Bloser handwriting survey: Results on-line at

    Background on our handwriting, past and present:
    3 videos, by a colleague, show why cursive is NOT a sacrament:



    (shows how fine motor skills are developed in handwriting WITHOUT cursive) —

    [AUTHOR BIO: Kate Gladstone is the founder of Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works and the director of the World Handwriting Contest]

    Yours for better letters,

    Kate Gladstone
    Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works
    and the World Handwriting Contest


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