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This is an op-ed piece my daughter Molly wrote for her college newspaper back in 2016, which she has given me permission to reprint here.

I can still vividly remember learning to write cursive in fourth grade. You probably learned it too, if you were in elementary school 8 to 10 years ago. It was hard at first to get all the loops and swirls just right, but very satisfying when I finally mastered it. My teacher gave me a “binder paper license” when I became good at cursive writing, which meant that I did not have to use the scratchy brown paper that kids who had messy writing had to use. However, most schools are no longer teaching cursive. Does it matter?

This is an op-ed piece my daughter Molly wrote for her college newspaper back in 2016.

It may be less important to know cursive now because of computers allowing you to type almost everything instead of writing it, but it is still a necessary skill. Signing your name on a receipt, on checks, and to get your driver’s license are all times when cursive is essential. One student I interviewed at Whittier found it necessary to relearn cursive because her teachers could not read her print handwriting. Learning to write in cursive helps develop fine motor skills in children. According to a piece on CNN by Katia Hetter called Nation of Adults who will Write like children? “Technology has pushed cursive writing off the agenda of many school systems across the country. As a result, [there is] more sloppy handwriting in schools today.” Writing quickly, such as for taking notes in class, is easier to do neatly in cursive than in printing, because you don’t need to pick the pen up off the page between letters but only between words.

Old letters and documents are written in cursive, so if you can not read it, then you will lose the opportunity to learn about the past from the source. Important documents like the Declaration of Independence or the US Constitution look much more dramatic when you see the handwritten versions than when you just read a typed text. On a more personal level, what if you got a handwritten note from your grandmother which says she will give you a wonderful surprise if you show up at her house at a certain time, but you can not read the cursive, so you never go and you do not get the surprise.

In conclusion, I think cursive is a form of writing that should be recognized as something to be passed on to each generation so that this art form never dies and is thought of as something special.

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Characterizations: right on!

Comments

  1. Hi Molly!
    Good to hear from the younger generation, thanx for letting your mom share you with us!

  2. How wonderful to get Molly’s perspective, Suzy! And, she’s a good writer just like her mother. I have to smile at her coming up with the idea of using a grandmother’s note written in cursive as an example…it’s a charming reminder that that this was written by a young person, echoing what we learned in the first paragraph about her age. Thanks to Molly for permitting you to include it for us!

  3. John Shutkin says:

    Terrific to get Molly’s perspective on this — thanks to both Molly and her mother. And a really well-written and thoughtful piece. Of course, I particularly like that she came out pro-cursive. That said, if I ever have grandkids, I will never depend on my lousy handwriting to send them an important message.

  4. Laurie Levy says:

    Loved hearing this from your point of view, Molly. So glad you recognize the importance of reading old documents, hand writing notes, and having your own distinctive signature. Brava!

  5. Hiya, Molly! Great essay and very persuasive. I tend to think it’s a good idea to learn skills like cursive writing because, even if you don’t ever use them again, skills tend to be stored in a useful memory bank that never quite goes away. We don’t forget how to ride a bike, do we? And, although we never ride a bike again, the body memory of balance and forward motion serves us for a life time. I learned cursive writing 108 or 110 years ago, as contrasted to 8 or 10 years ago, but I still value it. And yeah, sometimes I even use it.

  6. Betsy Pfau says:

    Molly, thanks for letting your mother share this with us. I, like all my peers, totally agree with (and love) your reasoning here. I was struck by your comment that once you got your “binder paper license”, you could use nice paper, not the scratchy brown stuff. I thought that was an interesting distinction and rite of passage.

    Your arguments for continuing to learn cursive are well-thought out (yes, we still sign our signatures on important documents), and, as Laurie pointed out, she wants her grandchildren to be able to read the letters left behind by her own parents. I mused that historians won’t have documents to help them with historical records (Orange Monster’s Twitter feed? Spare me.) But you look back and worry that the next generation won’t be able to read important original historical documents, a different, but equally as important concern.

    Thanks for sharing this with us.

  7. Joe Lowry says:

    I like that you described cursive writing as an art form. Nice

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