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Is Cursive Dying?


picture of practice writing

I have noticed in recent years that fewer of my college students turn in work written in cursive. This past week I did an survey in my classes and discovered that only 15% of my students write mostly in cursive. In fact, one student said that the only thing she knows how to write in cursive is her signature.

At the time my wife and I were growing up in northwestern Ohio, we were taught the Zaner-Bloser method of writing cursive, beginning in second grade. I remember hardly being able to wait to learn it so that I could write like the older kids and grown ups.

Here's what the Zaner-Bloser letters and numbers that we were supposed to emulate looked like:

picture of Zaner-Bloser cursive

I worked hard to perfect that skill and have been told through the years that I had neat handwriting, for a guy. A few years ago some of my students were having a hard time reading what I'd written on the board and the overhead. I attributed it to my handwriting, rather than to the fact that I'd written in cursive. I think now, though, that it was actually the cursive that was throwing some of my students. Here's what my writing looks like — I'll let you decide whether it's legible.

picture of my handwriting

I do understand the frustration of some students, though. The semester I took Chinese, our teacher was out for part of the semester on maternity leave. The substitute teacher wrote on the board one day in Chinese cursive. I was having a hard enough time reading Chinese characters as it was, let alone throwing cursive into the mix!

Our children went to Bob Jones Elementary School where they were taught precursive then later cursive using the handwriting curriculum from the BJU Press.

Here's a sample of what PreCursive looks like:

picture of PreCursive

All three of our children have very nice handwriting as adults. Megan and Mark write mostly in cursive and both have beautiful handwriting. In fact, one of Mark's colleagues asked him to address all her wedding invitations for her! Nora's handwriting is her own style that is a sort of printing joined together like cursive, with a very distinctive and pleasing effect.

Since two of our children are elementary school teachers, I asked them what is done in their respective schools. Megan who taught in a Christian school for 7 years wrote:

Faith Christian School starts with printing (the "precursive" Bob Jones version), and they learn cursive in second grade. Handwriting is part of the curriculum. The teachers require the students to write in precursive until they learn cursive, and then they will mostly write in cursive. There are a few times when they can print, but most assignments are supposed to be written in cursive. Most of the teachers write on the board in whatever form they expect their students to write. I always printed on the board, but the upper elementary teachers wrote in cursive. I usually write in cursive myself.

Mark and his wife Katie both teach in the Greenville County School system. He wrote:

Handwriting is a part of the curriculum for the primary grades, and cursive is taught in third grade. Penmanship is graded all the way through fifth grade. Print/cursive is optional and is really left up to the individual teacher after third grade. Some people have even considered doing away with cursive since so much is printed from computers. So, I guess we'll have to watch the debate for the next few years and see how it goes.

I almost always write in cursive, and Katie writes in print in personal writing. Katie writes in print on the board, and I switch back and forth.

One of my cousins in France was a preschool teacher. As we talked one time, comparing schooling in our respective countries, she expressed shock that we start children out with block printing. She said that French children start with cursive in preschool since it is so natural and just flows. (I just knew I should have been born in France!!! I would not have had to wait until second grade!)

I'm not going to try to make a case one way or the other about cursive vs. printing. As I prepared for this post, I found lots of places on line where this has been debated at length, and there are very strong feelings on both sides of the issue. Some believe strongly that writing in cursive is an important developmental skill. Some believe that cursive is no longer necessary, though I would think that people will eventually not be able to read old documents written in cursive script.

I would mostly like to know what my readers use in their lives. If you comment to this post, please give your age, what you were taught in school, which style of writing you use, and if you were taught cursive at all. It will be interesting to see if there was an approximate time when most students stopped using cursive in favor of printing. Is cursive dying or is it being put to death?

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"Genesis is God-breathed, non-revisionist history." — Drew Conley

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Rob

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46 Comments on “Is Cursive Dying?”

  1. #1 Dolly
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 7:04 am

    Mr. Loach, I’ll be 35 in a couple days. We started out printing, but quickly learned cursive in the Philippines. I write in cursive now and have gotten so many compliments on my beautiful penmanship. I attribute this to my Filipino teachers who taught us to take pride in our penmanship and present ourselves well even on paper.

  2. #2 Danielle Long
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 8:19 am

    I’m 21 now and I, too, couldn’t wait to learn cursive! But my school didn’t teach that until THIRD grade! 🙂 I use a mixture of cursive and print in my handwritten class notes, assignments, etc. Sometimes I use all print and sometimes all cursive. My family has always said I have the neatest, prettiest handwriting in the family, especially when it’s a mixture of the two, which I always found interesting.

  3. #3 Dovey
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 8:29 am

    Hi Mr. Loach,

    Don’t know if you remember me or not, but I’m Dovey Steele. I found this interesting because I read the comment on your fb page where the woman was really upset about those who homeschool using Abeka.This subject is one that I debated over and over (I homeschool) and finally taught my oldest 2 print. The oldest has switched to cursive (no problem) and his sister will probably in the next 2 years. The interesting thing is my 3rd child. He likes to “write”. He’s only 4, but he always has a notebook and pens or pencils with him at all times. For his birthday, he received a package of little notebooks, gel pens and a pencil case, and he was thrilled!!! When he “writes”, it’s cursive-style, which is the argument that Abeka uses for teaching children cursive first — that it’s natural. I think that I’m going to try teaching him cursive first, starting with his name and see how it goes. I actually have read that it’s better from a developmental standpoint and since so many neurologic pathways aren’t being formed anymore, I’ll probably teach all of my children cursive. I’ve read that children aren’t memorizing phone numbers anymore, reading maps, etc., and that those are all affecting the brain. Interesting….

  4. #4 Melody
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 8:30 am

    I’m 24, was taught the BJUP “precursive” first, then cursive in 2nd grade. Now, I almost always print, except when using a fountain pen. It’s nearly impossible to print with a fountain pen, and I think that’s a big reason the French still use cursive. Even children use fountain pens in school, rarely pencils or ballpoint pens like Americans.

  5. #5 Nancy
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 8:38 am

    Although I use the computer for a high percentage of my correspondence/work related writing, I think a handwritten note, card, or letter carries a personal touch that can’t be replicated in a crisp, computerized font. I continue to write notes and letters in my version of cursive writing. I send my granddaughters postcards when I travel, and though neither can read yet, they recognize the handwritten “Ama.”

    A story: In my early years of teaching, a student faux paux became my word of choice. I had given them a chisel-tip marker that gave their letters thick-thin lines and encouraged a little more care to their penmanship. She commented that using the pen made her really enjoy “cursed writing.”

  6. #6 Elva Farrell
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 8:42 am

    I learned block letters first and then cursive in 3rd grade. Now I use a combination of both. Probably un-readable to most people (even to me at times :)). All three of our girls learned cursive first in the French schools and have very readable handwriting. (57 years old)

  7. #7 Vikki
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 9:28 am

    I didn’t learn cursive until 4th grade and learned the same style you did. We had to use squirrely looking pens which were suppose to force us to hold the pen properly. Once we learned it, we had to do everything in cursive through at least grade school and I think maybe Jr. High as I recall. I remember teachers harping on the new kids coming into the class because they would make their letters different and the teachers wanted everyone to use the same form. I changed school systems between 4th and 5th grade and had a teach all over me, in front of everyone, because I made my capital “F” wrong and asking me where in the world I ever learned write like that. I was totally confused because I only knew one way to write it and had no idea what she wanted it to look like!

    Our kids were taught a precursive form of printing that naturally flowed through to “cursive” in a few years. However, the form of cursive they learned was so close to printing that there was hardly any difference. Half the letters were exactly the same and some didn’t even connect to the next in the middle of words.

    I usually write in a mixture of both but use printing when I want to make sure someone can read it. I used to get good grades in school for my writing, but I think taking notes in college killed it. I traded form for speed and changed some of my letters so I could write quicker. As long as I could still read it, I was happy. I’ve talked to several people who said their penmanship went down the drain in college and/or grad school too. Maybe that’s why doctors are known to have such poor penmanship.

  8. #8 Doodie Hutchison
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 9:37 am

    I’ve been teaching for 30 years now, and I usually write in cursive; however, most of my students print. I don’t mind which method is used as long as it it legible–which most of the time it is not! The biggest trouble is that the students do not space between words or use indentions and margins properly. (I teach juniors and seniors!)

  9. #9 Amanda
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 9:43 am

    I’ve actually debated this subject with my boyfriend before. Although he learned cursive, he finds print letters at least as easy to write and easier to read. I don’t know that I have any particularly grand argument for liking cursive, but I do like the way cursive looks better.

    I’m 21 and when I was in kindergarten and 1st grade I went to a Christian school that used A Beka books. I think I learned cursive in 1st grade, but I don’t remember all that clearly now (probably due to my advanced age :nods:). I write it both cursive and print, but I tend to take notes in print and write any handwritten homework assignments in print. If I send a handwritten note to someone, I’ll write it in cursive. It seems more formal.

    I’ll probably end up writing everything in cursive today now. Cursive shall not die as long as I draw breath!

  10. #10 Greg
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 10:06 am

    I grew up using cursive, and prefer it, but since I’m a “lefty” I print most of the time since it is easier for others to understand as my handwriting is not the neatest. Many times when I need to jot a quick note to myself I will use cursive though, just because it is quicker than printing.

  11. #11 Michael
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 10:07 am

    I am 34 years old and was taught the pre-cursive then the cursive system at Bob Jones Elementary School. I used cursive pretty much exclusively through graduate school. Now I print often unless I’m in a hurry. Then, I switch over to cursive since I don’t have to think about it as much. My handwriting was very nice in elementary school, after all you got graded for it and I wanted an A+! My handwriting stayed all right until college. Having to take notes so quickly during many of the lectures I attended caused my writing to degenerate rapidly something that my mother still rues to this day. Anyway, I believe I was one of the few to keep cursive through all those years. Many of my friends switched from cursive to printing in junior high. They weren’t required to write in cursive in any longer so they didn’t. I found cursive to still be easier so I kept doing it. Today I print since it’s more legible than my cursive. Also, like you said we type so much today. I rarely write anything of great length by hand. As a high school teacher I have noticed that, for the most part, kids who print are neater than kids who write in cursive and girls are neater than boys. In fact whenever I have my students do a paper, I make them print rather than do it in cursive.

  12. #12 Melissa Endres
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 10:18 am

    I couldn’t wait to learn cursive in 2nd grade, because I wanted to have “grown-up” handwriting like my mom. At my school in junior high (Hampton Park Christian), my English and history teachers required us to take all our notes and do all of our homework assignments in cursive. They said it would help us to take notes more quickly and efficiently when we got better at it. I would say that my cursive speed is about twice as fast as my printing speed, and it looks a lot neater. Plus, cursive seems to be a more natural way to write. Don’t toddlers start out drawing circles and swirly lines?? :o)

  13. #13 Skip Hughes
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 10:27 am

    I learned cursive somewhere in early grade school (the 1940’s), and used it right up until I started my nearly 50-year career in law enforcement. From then on, and even into retirement, it was either block printing or typing. Believe me, you don’t want to review hundreds or thousands of police reports written in cursive, especially if the officer was in a hurry with a long report, witness statements, etc. The more they wrote the worse it got.

    After a few days some writers couldn’t decipher their own handwriting. Couple that with poor compositional skills, misuse of similar sounding words and incomplete reports, you have a real problem! Block printing was an improvement, but sometimes not much!

  14. #14 Angela Valle
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Thanks for posting this. I taught 5th grade for the past two years in San Francisco and noticed that the only place cursive was being taught was at Christian school. Any students who transferred from Catholic or public school were usually unable to write in cursive consistently.

    I was strictly enforcing cursive only in the classroom and it made mr question my standpoint. At the same time I started noticing some students who grew up in Christian school who didn’t know how to print anymore. So I changed my stance and had them print certain things and write in cursive for nice projects.

    I had to reteach my own mind to be able to write in print for my students because I use Zaner-bloser and my students learned the bob jones cursive.

  15. #15 Betty-Ann
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 10:53 am

    We began learning cursive with the Palmer Method. I don’t remember when we started learning cursive, but our 6th grade teacher was adamant that we practice all the O’s and slant lines perfectly.

    When I was teaching we taught cursive as part of our English course and graded it during that part of the course. By 6th grade, students seemed to have their own style of writing, but we only corrected wrong letters. or if it was illegible.

    My writing definitely lost legibility while I was teaching. So much hurried grading. I am 69 and feel that we should continue to teach cursive even if we don’t insist that the student use it all the time. ‘How will they read the US Constitution?’ ; )

  16. #16 Sarah G.
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 10:58 am

    I suppose I’m like your daughter Nora – I write in a mix of print and cursive. I don’t like the look of plain printing, but when I look at my own writing it’s not really cursive either. 🙂 I’m 24 and used the BJUP curriculum that taught cursive, as well as calligraphy being a part of the handwriting course in grade 6, I believe.

  17. #17 Kristin
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Another great post! I’m 31 and was taught the same as you – printing first, then Zaner-Bloser cursive starting in around the third grade. I couldn’t wait to learn cursive either, and have written mostly in cursive ever since. Even when I “print”, it’s more of a print-cursive blend such as you described with Nora.

    Now I’m a homeschooling mom to two little girls and I see a lot of the same debate. Some homeschoolers think that there’s no need to teach handwriting at all since “you can type everything now.” What about tests? Job applications? Plain old manners? I want for my girls to be able to write nice, legible thank you notes and not just type an email…

    Interested to see how everyone else responds!

  18. #18 Meribeth
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 11:30 am

    My mom, who taught 5th grade for years, says she now knows how it came to be that no one could read hieroglyphics–the same way that, soon, no one will be able to read cursive. Like you, I have pretty legible handwriting, but I have students all the time telling me they can’t read it. It’s not my handwriting–they just can’t read the cursive!

    I think it’s interesting that people would think there is no need for cursive because of all the printing we do. For years, books, magazines, and newspapers were printed in print, but people still wrote in cursive. So, no, I don’t think it’s obsolete. It actually makes a lot more sense to write in cursive.

  19. #19 Andrea
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Elementary Education teachers still have to learn the Zaner – Blosner handwriting for both cursive and print. I’ve got a workbook for it right now. Trying to copy the print letters takes much more effort than the cursive, but the book says that print does not require as refined motor skills as cursive.

    When I write, I mostly use print but I connect the letters. My writing is very legible, but not always pretty. I had to learn cursive in second grade, and I hated it because it took me so long to think about how each letter had to be shaped. Some of the letter forms look completely different. As soon as I could I went back to print, but I borrowed the original idea behind the cursive of connecting the letters to save the effort of lifting the pencil.

  20. #20 Sarah
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    I’m 28, and learned cursive as part of my homeschool program. I so hated it that Mom discontinued it fairly early on. Now I print (messily, unfortunately — I’m usually in too much of a hurrry to print neatly!), and the cursive only survives as the capital ‘S’ in my signatures.

    I don’t know if cursive writing is dying, but I think it should be put to death!

  21. #21 Shannah
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    I learned block letters first, then cursive… I don’t remember what grade I was in when we learned cursive. Now, I tend to use them both, but consistently in different contexts. In something brief, such as on the chalkboard or a to-do list, I consistently use printing (but of a sort that tends to join together at certain points). In something extended, such as a journal entry or a letter, I use cursive. I sometimes find that in note-taking I will suddenly switch from printing to cursive when it becomes a more extended passage… which drives me nearly as crazy as when I have to change pen colors (or, I will admit it… even switching pens of the same color) in the middle of something. (Of course, I also use particular kinds of pens in particular contexts, and will search through the house for the right kind, even if there is a working pen of a different sort right in front of me.)

    Incidentally, neither my printing nor my cursive look very much like the “model” from which I was taught, but my cursive looks very much like my mom’s (who uses cursive almost exclusively), and to my great horror, my printing looks just like my dad’s…. which raises an interesting question of nature/nurture. (And also the question of whether or not we both should have been doctors.)

  22. #22 AJ
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    As other users have said, I too now write with a combination. I noticed this the most while I was taking Greek in undergrad, because the sigma changes style when it’s at the end of a word as opposed to the beginning or middle. I then looked at my own writing and saw that the “s” “w” “r” specifically changed when they were placed differently in words (also, the connection between letters changes when they are quicker to do so)…perhaps someday students will have to study the different rules of writing the way I do (I take pity on them if that’s the case) 🙂

  23. #23 Valerie
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    I am almost 29 and went to Bob Jones schools. By Jr. High we were not required to use cursive any more. I remember being excited to learn it in second grade, but by 6th grade I completely hated it. My main beef with it is the letters that look different, like f, r, s, z, and, I’m sure, others. My “neat” handwriting is print, and when I’m in a hurry some letters end up linked together in a cursive-esque manner, but I wouldn’t really call it cursive. When I learned Calligraphy at BJU, that was in print too.

    I had a teacher at BJU (who I will not name, but if you had him, you know) who preferred if we wrote in block caps. He had a thing about legibility, and felt that lower case letters were too often written poorly. His favorites to mark off were i’s dotted off-center and t’s crossed too low. Yes, I said “mark off.” He would take tenths of points off on tests for “illegibility.” It never made sense to me, because obviously it’s a “t” even if I did cross it below halfway. However, I quickly learned that writing in block caps, though tedious, kept me from losing points on handwriting.

    Rob adds: OH MY! :-/

  24. #24 Pamela
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Cursive writing is oh-so-much more elegant when using a fountain pen! I discovered this when in fifth grade. My cursive was not to great using regular ball-point pens that skip and blob up so I found a Parker fountain pen at the local drug store (way back in the 1960’s) and henceforth my writing has improved every year as the pen glides effortlessly over the page. Try it out, you’ll love it!

    Rob adds: I agree, Pam. I’ve bought several “student” (read: cheaper) Waterman fountain pens in France and LOVE using them. It makes one’s writing look so cool. My students would often fall in love with fountain pens in France and buy one to bring home. Your comment has reminded me that I should dig my favorite one out, clean it up, and use it. It does involve a bit more messing around than a ballpoint pen does, but it is definitely a nice writing experience … especially since I write mostly in cursive.

  25. #25 Hannah Joy
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    I’m 28, and I was home-schooled most of my pre-college years, with mainly the BJ curriculum. I did learn cursive, but I replaced the “BJU” H with my mom’s version because it’s prettier (I tried to replace G, but it’s not a letter I write as much, so it never caught on). I use it now when I want my writing to look nice, or I have a line to keep it even, but my handwriting’s never been very good. My hand’s just not steady enough, so if I want to be sure it’s legible I print.

    I always hated verse tests in college, because I could never write fast enough for them and my hand would get cramped!

  26. #26 Caroline
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    i thought this post was so interesting! it’s something i’ve thought about off and on, so it was fun to read what other people thought! i’m 22 and i was taught BJUP precursive in kindergarten. i really can’t remember exactly, but at some point after 1st grade i learned both Zaner-Bloser and D’Nealian cursive. because i grew up in Grenada, i also picked up the print and cursive handwriting they teach here. the only time i use cursive now is for my signature or if i write with my left hand. (completely random, i know…) my letters are a mixture of precursive, manuscript, Zaner-Bloser cursive, D’Nealian cursive, and whatever they teach in Grenada. i kind of pick and choose the letters that are easiest for me to form and go with that. i know it sounds like a mess, but i really do have very neat handwriting. 🙂

  27. #27 Heather
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    I’m 27 and I use both cursive and print. My handwriting was quite nice until I went to graduate school–my cursive looked like Arabic and my print looked like Sanskrit. :/ But my typing improved drastically!

    My personal opinion is that children ought to learn cursive because it is a part of a good education. Is it strictly necessary? Not really. But then art, music, foreign languages, advanced mathematics, philosophy, history, literature, or any of the sciences aren’t strictly necessary, either. But an educated person has studied them nevertheless.

  28. #28 20
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Currently I use (my version of) cursive whenever I take class notes or write letters and journal entries. But I still use print to scribble myself notes or write the first drafts of assignments.

    Except for when I first learned cursive, I don’t remember being required to use either style.

  29. #29 Chris Collins Jr
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    I was taught cursive at Bob Jones Elementary school, but I remember looking forward to being able to write only in print. I think I stopped writing in cursive mostly by 7th grade, but definitely by High School, and now at 21 years all I can write in cursive is my name =)

  30. #30 Dan
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    I learned cursive as a kid growing up (I’m 25 now) and I used it for everything until I got to college. Writing notes took far too much time in cursive and I was missing things that were said so I switched to printing and now I’m used to that. I can still read and write cursive, but I usually don’t. I plan on teaching my kids, Lord willing, the art of cursive though.

  31. #31 Kathleen
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    I learned Italic printing and cursive. I usually use printing, but sometimes I will use cursive. All six of us have gone through (or are going through) the same method, and it’s interesting to see the different handwriting styles we all have. Jamie’s writing almost looks like cursive that isn’t joined together. Allison usually prints. Of all of us, Allison and I have the most similar writing, but her letters tend to be rounder. The boys have the messiest writing (don’t tell them I said that!) 🙂 Emilie is still doing the course, but she uses cursive.

    For us lefties, writing is a little harder. You’re pushing the pen/pencil along, instead of drawing it, so it digs into the paper some. That’s why so many lefties write with a “hook”, so that they draw the pencil. That was something I had to really work to change. My hand position isn’t the best, but at least I don’t write with a hook! Lefties tend to either have really messy or really neat handwriting, if you work to overcome the natural lefty tendencies, then you do get rewarded.

  32. #32 Marilyn
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    I’m 62 (attended a small rural school) and was taught Zaner-Bloser in second and third grades and Palmer the next year. Later that year (4th) the school inspector came in while we were having our handwriting lesson and chewed the teacher out. She demonstrated the old-fashioned Spencer script on the board. Within a few weeks we got new books and were learning that. But before the year was out the local district superintendent and our principal came in our classroom, observed and talked. Then a decree went out that all penmanship at our school would be Zaner-Bloser! This post has reminded me of the political side of penmanship.

  33. #33 Susan
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    First couple of years in school we printed. Then we learned script … mine was never a pretty writing. Now I scratch whatever, I can usually read it. If I am writing a note, I take my time, use my best writing and it looks nice. I am 63.

    On a different note: My boss had a stroke in his 50’s and could not use his dominant hand, so each night after rehab his mother watched and encouraged him in his “writing”. So maybe writing is not just for reading but for whole brain developement.

    My children in their 30’s have poor handwriting and no desire to spiff it up….

  34. #34 Carrie
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    Wow–lots of comments on this post! I’m 39 and learned print, then D’Nealian (sp?), but I don’t remember what grade. As and Elementary Education major at BJU I had to learn their cursive, and stuck with that very strictly when I was a teacher. I figured that if I expected my students to be neat, I’d better be too. I use print in my planner, but cursive most everywhere else.

    My homeschooled children are very excited about learning cursive. I think Samuel’s may be neater than his printing.

  35. #35 Beth
    on Jan 31st, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    Hi,

    I’m 24 almost 25. I was homeschooled since first grade, and I remember begging my mom to have her write things down for me to copy. I learned to write my name with the Zaner-Bloser “B”. I’m not sure when she had me learn cursive, but we mostly used the A Beka handwriting guide, for slant and shape. I never really took handwriting. I changed back and forth a lot through grade school and high school trying to find a comfortable writing style. Often a mixture of A Beka cursive, and my own print. While in college at BJU, I had to practice and perfect the BJU precursive, and cursive style. So in the middle of my college years, my writing morphed back to a cursive focus. I’ve had many comments on people liking my writing, even though I think it’s a bit messy. In student teaching, I had a fourth grade boy complain he couldn’t read my cursive- so I had to print anything on the board. While the Greenville Public school did ask students to write some in cursive, it wasn’t seen in assignments.

    I now teach second grade in a school in NC. We are using predominantly the A Beka curriculum, so I’ve had to morph back to using letters (that I had hated in grade school) and try to encourage my students to improve their writing. I have many that have just gone lazy this month. A lot of points were taken off this week for bad form. I made one girl rewrite the same passage three times today. She was just being lazy and not using the right form, and kept using odd loops to mask letters. My one student who really struggles with forming his letters, doesn’t even know how to print. I think it ironic that I had one boy who couldn’t read cursive, and now I have one boy who cannot write print. My students’ parents are pleased their kids can write cursive, knowing cursive is growing to be a lost art. One of my girl’s writing looks exactly like the guide sheet.

    Just as a side note, I think cursive is much quicker to use, and when perfected, speed isn’t an issue.

  36. #36 Garrison Parrish
    on Feb 1st, 2011 at 12:05 am

    I actually prefer to write in cursive. However, because of my horrible penmanship at high-speed writing (e.g. note-taking) it is almost detrimental to myself to use it … seeing that i can’t make out my own writing sometimes. If i have time to take then i will most definitely use cursive. It almost feels as though printing disrupts the train of thought as i’m writing, and it takes longer. I learned cursive in 2nd grade and thought it best ever since.

  37. #37 Tammy
    on Feb 1st, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    I think I was taught Palmer in second grade by nuns. Switched to public school in 3rd grade and was taught all over on to do cursive-looks more like the Zaner-Blosser style. Moved to Ohio and was taught some strange way to do letters that basically many were capital letters like the G and Q were small made big. Changed my way of writing on some letters and to this day make the Q like a small q because the other way looks like a #2.

    I am 51 and have horrible writing.

  38. #38 Dave
    on Feb 1st, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    Hi Rob,
    I haven’t read all the comments but I thought I’d provide feedback.
    I was taught cursive in public school in Kansas as a child and it was graded at least through 6th or 7th grade. I’m a lefty and also had to wear a metallic brace to straighten my wrist in 5th grade. The cursive I learned looks very similar to the sample you posted. I’m 48.

    I’m a computer geek and really prefer to type (and learning to type is another story altogether.) However, I still take notes in a mixture of cursive and block. My (18 and 19) rarely if ever write in cursive and have nearly illegible handwriting as they are so accustomed to typing and texting. (Both are righties.)

    I’ve taken to bringing a laptop to church and Bible studies and do all my note taking on the keyboard. (I sit in the last pew and as far away from others as possible to minimize my disturbing others.)

    Rob adds: My son, who was asked to address his colleague’s wedding invitations, is also a lefty, which hasn’t kept him from having nice handwriting at all. In church I take notes on the sermons in cursive. I tried writing them in print this past Sunday, in preparation for this post, and I really am a cursive writer at heart. My print is very legible and doesn’t really take any longer to write, though.

  39. #39 Peter
    on Feb 2nd, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Other than the last post, I’ve haven’t read what others said before, so I’m not sure what the prevailing theme is. I’m 38 years old and attended public school in rural Nova Scotia. I’m not sure what grade I learned cursive, but I think it was pretty early on. I used to write in cursive most of the time, but switched to print some time in my university years. I’ve noticed that my dad, who immigrated to the US from Guatemala as a teenager, uses print, while my mom, a Nova Scotian, uses cursive to this day. To be honest, since my college days I’ve found handwriting (print or cursive) increasingly difficult and have often thought that I might have carpal tunnel syndrome in my right wrist. Because of that, I prefer to type now.

  40. #40 Connel
    on Feb 2nd, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    I am 15, In 3rd grade it was mandatory for teachers to have us learn cursive and write in it, but since I was left handed (cursive was made for right handed people as the slant makes it very hard for lefties) and my handwriting was bad enough anyways the teachers couldnt read my cursive, even I couldnt read my cursive!! so while most people were stuck doing cursive for everything I mostly just had to do it for the actual cursive assignments. Then in 4th grade my teacher was a pennmanship expert she could actually read it and helped me improve it, but in 7th grade (the first year we had no cursive) I dropped it, now unless its very good hand writing like yours (which I could read) I am usually unable to read it, I dont use cursive but I do have a slightly flowing print for some letters which I adopted to make writing faster. In 8th grade the teacher said that she had to by state law give us a cursive writing paper so I had to relearn it a little but since the teacher didnt belive that cursive was useful anymore we only had to do one so I have pretty much forgotten it again. Also like Dave the cursive I learned in school was like what you showed.

  41. #41 Ila Holloway
    on Feb 2nd, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    Love Sir Ivman. His posts seem as if he has been sitting in my “parlor” with my friends beating some ideas around like a pinata. So here goes my idea.

    I taught almost 30 years in public, private, and homeschool venues. I like all forums of education, but public education seems to have forgotten what education truly is.

    When I left the classroom in 2000 there was no penmanship taught on any level, no basic math (I taught in 4 states and several districts), no reading word attack, no independent thinking, no, no, no. . . if you get my idea.

    What has been left in the public schools and now the private schools, which are filled with mind numbed teachers from state colleges and universities, is a vacuum. The Halls of Ivy are now the Halls of Incompetence and fertile soil that once was productive has been turned into a dust bowl where ideas are not to be tolerated nor the teachers who think outside the box.

    You keep giving us something to think about Mr. Ivman. I’ll be reading as I AM a thinker.

    I would be nothing without the theology that brought me the ability to filter all thinking through God’s Words.

    Don’t stop. . .

  42. #42 Sarah
    on Feb 3rd, 2011 at 11:39 am

    I’m 51. In public school I was first taught to print and then write cursive in 3rd grade, using Zaner-Bloser. As a lefty in a family of right-handed parents, I had already learned to make do and function with tools like scissors that were designed for righties. My teachers taught me to turn the paper opposite from the other students, so that my arm and hand lay along the length of it. Thus my letters could be properly slanted, and I never had trouble writing neatly, without resorting to hooking my hand. Today I use mostly cursive, but have modified it to be quick, comfortable and using letter forms that please me, especially capitals, which are mostly print-style. I believe it is very readable.

    I worked as a pharmacist’s assistant 30 years ago, while we were in Bible college, and learned to read prescriptions. I can read almost any handwriting! Many years in full-time ministry, including 19 years in French Canada, during which I homeschooled our girls, taught in French Canadian public schools and met many people from other ethnic backgrounds, also gave me cause to reflect on handwriting issues. I love to read the hand of most Europeans and Africans, who employ a distinctive style not usually seen in North America.

    Now back in the States, my husband’s pastoral salary can’t meet the cost of living in our area, so I am again working in a pharmacy. Some of our local doctors have very nice, readable handwriting. Others are more of a challenge. The hardest thing to read is usually their signature. So many doctors nowadays are part of a large group, and the names of all the doctors are printed on the prescription. So which one signed with that illegible scribble? Years ago, they used to have to circle their printed name, or print their name below their signature, but no more. We sometimes have to ask the patient which doctor wrote their Rx.

    Two of my co-workers are also left-handed, and each has very unusual writing, which they blame on their handedness. One of my first tasks as a new employee was learning to decipher their letters and numbers.

    This post strikes a chord with almost everyone. What it says to me is that God has made us each unique, and our handwriting history and style reflect our individual natures. I don’t think there is a “one right way” to write, and we do children a favor in teaching them to at least be able to READ various styles of handwriting, and allowing them many opportunities to write by hand so they can develop their own readable style.

    Rob adds: I have often wondered how many patients end up with the wrong medication as a result of the doctor’s poor penmanship. It was interesting to read your comment.

  43. #43 Corene
    on Feb 3rd, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Never did like the subject Handwriting. I loved printing and didn’t care for writing in cursive. I actually would write in my own type of printing that I kept on revising it. I normally would end up using half print and half cursive (as in just linking up the letters). When I was in 3rd grade I had this big idea…What if I broke my right hand/arm and I could not write? So I actually got a notebook and taught myself to print with my left hand. I still use my left hand to write sometimes.

    When I have to do something “nice” I will use cursive…though i actually think that my print is nicer than cursive. I have a hard time reading cursive too.

  44. #44 Laura
    on Feb 4th, 2011 at 9:26 am

    The responses to this post have been as fun to read as the post itself!!!

    I’m 42. I don’t know when I learned to print (I was really young), but I begged my mom to teach me cursive as a preschooler. It was a very vivid memory . . . Dad was driving us around Philly in the rain that day, and I kept passing Mom a log book that Dad had brought home from work so she could write the next example for me to copy. My writing is still a lot like hers, though I can mimic my dad’s if I use his “hook.”

    I was saddened when I got to first grade and was “demoted” to balls and sticks. The teachers also disliked the freedom my parents had given me in hand choice. I would write with my left hand across the left side of the page, switch hands, and continue with my right. Forced by my teachers to choose, I used my left hand to write, but preferred to use scissors with my right. Dad is a lefty, and mom is a righty. I learned to do needlework and crochet right-handed, because that is the way she taught me when I was young. It was never really a problem.

    College made my writing suffer, and I could go from an A on a test to a C for the one fussy professor in the science department mentioned in post #23 who would take a maximum of 1% off for EACH of the letters he didn’t like (up to 26% in 1/10% increments) . . . HIS way required either solid block caps with no links AT ALL or his PARTICULAR brand of cursive–he despised the BJU cursive I had to practice in my education courses). Either I wrote his way (which took too long to complete the test), or I lost letter grades simply because he didn’t care for my perfectly legible but forbidden handwriting. GRRR. But at least I never had to take another course from him after that.

    When the time came to teach my own kids to write (all right-handed, like their daddy), I used mostly BJU precursive to start and switched to BJU cursive, but showed the kids the various “old fashioned” script capitals so they could learn to read them. I allowed them to choose which capital styles they wanted to use . . . I don’t really care about style per se, as long as it is legible. I just taught the BJU method because print reversals are avoided and the transition between print and cursive is smoother.

    I switch between block caps (especially notes at church), regular print, joined print, and true cursive (especially for nice letters to send through the mail). Depends on mood and the time available. It is easier for me to maintain legibility at high speed with print than cursive.

    Rob adds: Thanks for your thoughts on this, Laura.

  45. #45 Laura
    on Feb 5th, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    My penmanship has suffered since word processing became so much easier. My best hand writing days were in school when I won penmanship awards and later as an order taker, focusing on clear writing for the order pickers to read quickly. Now I type almost everything at the keyboard.

    When I began thinking about penmanship and it’s loss I started bringing pen and paper along in my purse when I go out for coffee. I write long hand there. It keeps me in practice, though my hand wears out a lot sooner than it used to.

    Rob adds: Thanks for your comment, Laura. I like to write on the computer because I’m faster at typing than at writing. I can get my ideas down faster at the keyboard. But I like to write by hand also (mostly cursive) because I can take more time to think things out as I write them down. I use handwriting in meetings where I don’t have a laptop along. As secretary of the deacons at my church though, I always make sure to have my laptop there so I can capture things said more quickly.

  46. #46 Meg
    on Feb 17th, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Name: Meg
    Age: 28
    Writing Style: both cursive and block printing (depending on situation)

    Background: Learned cursive in 2nd grade and originally thought it a little boring. However, an eighth grade teacher who had handwriting like the founding fathers (she could have written the Declaration of Independence), always wrote with her scripty font on the chalkboard – amazing! So I spent class copying her notes and trying to imitate her exact style. Now, I’d say I’m pretty close. I also made myself start printing in all caps to get my printing penmanship a little neater.

    Now: I use cursive for grading papers and writing notes/letters to people. Most people are complimentary of it; even the cashiers at Walmart always comment on my credit card signature. I’ve also had a lot of compliments on my printing, which, as mentioned, I tried to perfect by writing in all caps. Now it’s small, neat, and concise and (hopefully) very readable. I use the printing for lists for me, comments/instructions for other people, and for writing on the chalkboard (as my cursive literally tends to go downhill).

    Rob adds: Very interesting, Meg. Thanks for adding your experiences and perspectives.