Handwriting - Should we say goodbye?

Discussion in 'The Chatterbox' started by lradke, May 15, 2013.


Should children be taught to handwrite?

  1. Yes

  2. No

  1. lradke

    lradke and doggone it, people like me

    Hello everyone!

    Here in Alberta handwriting is still taught in schools. As a result of this fact, there is a debate that my wife and I get into fairly regularly about the need for being educated in handwriting (cursive writing). She is against the mandatory learning of it, stating that it is an outdated form of communication in our digital age (my jazzed up version of her words). I disagree stating it is a vital part of the world's history and if anyone wishes to work with anything in the past, they will need to know how to read the writing (recognition comes with the knowledge of how to write it).

    This is just one very small example of our arguments on the matter.

    I should throw in here a tad bit of background information that will better explain our positions. My wife grew up in a wealthy family, and did all her schoolwork on a computer. I, on the other hand, came from a middle class family that didn't really have much in the way of modern electronics. When I was finishing up elementary school in the 1990's we owned a word processor, but before that we worked on typewriters, or (as I preferred) did all writing by hand. I still prefer the hand written piece over a computer printed one.

    So with that in mind, I turn to you and ask your opinion on the matter.

    Do you think that it is important for kids to learn how to handwrite in addition to learning computer skills?


    EDIT: I just want to mention that I mean no ill-will towards one side or the other. It is a topic that my wife and I have good clean debates on, and so I thought I'd present it here. :)
    jabberwock, Shaver X and ins0ma like this.
  2. richgem

    richgem suffering from chronic clicker hand cramps

    Kids still need to be able to sign stuff and to be able to read anything written in cursive. Therefore, it should be taught and learned and used. That said, my nephew's school (he's 11) doesn't teach it as they think it's unnecessary. My sister disagrees and is teaching him along with the fact that they moved to a school which does teach it.

    Kids should also be taught to send a written thank you for gifts. To receive an oral thank you just isn't the same, nor is an email. Yes, written can be tedious, but is it too much to ask given the time someone spends to pick out a nice gift for you or to give a nice check?
    NoobShaver, Slipperyjoe and tuxxdk like this.
  3. tuxxdk

    tuxxdk International Penguin of Mystery

    Yes! For the love of God I can't even imagine otherwise... :-/

    I expect my kids to learn proper handwriting and proper math/calculus by hand instead of using a calculator or wordprocessor.

    I think it's important we, as a human being, is capable of doing stuff without a computer no matter how much technology we have around us.

    Call me oldfashioned, but that's how I feel about it. And I'm only 32... :)
    JonU and Slipperyjoe like this.
  4. Ryan B

    Ryan B Knight of the Soapocracy

    Handwriting is important. The only thing I use cursive for is my signature. I can read it, but after I got out of grade school; none of my instructors required that we use it. I never had very good handwriting, but I think it has gotten worse because I don't write as much as I type. Technology can always fail, so you need to know how to do things the traditional way so you aren't up a creek.
    Slipperyjoe and tuxxdk like this.
  5. KLF

    KLF Doctorin

    i cannot concept an world where kids don't know to write. what if computers broke down one day? what if the electricity is down? i don't know about Canada but here in Israel you NEED to know how to write. I sit 9 hours in front of a computer but I still need to write things down on paper a lot.
    Slipperyjoe and tuxxdk like this.
  6. jabberwock

    jabberwock Well-Known Member

    I write out most of my stories, articles, and assignments in long hand before transferring them into a digital format. It helps me to organize my thoughts using a pen or pencil first. That does not mean that I agree with the mandatory teaching of cursive writing.

    My knee jerk reaction is to be appalled at the idea that cursive would be abandoned in the schools, but the truth is that it is not a necessary skill. We do not cry over the inability of the young to understand and use Middle English, we do not bemoan the loss of illuminated script in our books, and in twenty years no one will care if cursive is relegated to the pile of obsolete things. Cursive is not some amazing and important tool that must be understood, it is a quick and easy way to neatly handwrite long passages. It's not even the only way to write by hand. Printing is still an option, should all of our technology suddenly fail (although, if that happens we will have much larger concerns than how we choose to write). Any cursive text can easily be scanned into a word processing program and then "translated" into standard print. The esset and the umlaut are no longer used in English and no one seems to care. Even the meaning and common use of words changes over the years. Things which are useful survive, things that are not useful become outmoded. Cursive had its place, but the almost universal availability of word processing programs and portable computers have taken that place over. Almost everyone in North America has some access to a computer, tablet, smart phone, or word processor. Assignments in many schools are no longer even accepted in handwritten form. I will continue to use cursive and will likely even teach its basic use to my daughter, but I will not cry when it eventually dies out.

    Barring some imaginary technological apocalypse in which we are all suddenly forced to write out long passages using cursive rather than standard print I can see no reason, outside of stubbornness and sentimentality, for cursive writing to continue to be taught in school.
  7. Monkeylord

    Monkeylord The Lather Lord

    Well I'm not for abandoning cursive in schools (as redundant as it will become if it isn't already). Children should learn it, but in time I don't see kids writing by hand in classrooms. Keyboard is a faster and an easier mean for quick writing in class. But around here I don't really see that happening any time soon. And on the other hand I don't want a kid that doesn't know how to write by hand :p
  8. Slipperyjoe

    Slipperyjoe Rusty Metal Tetanus

    I like the ol' long hand and think it may always have a place. Lol and maybe they should start teaching shaving in high school..:shaver
    Sara-s, richgem and Monkeylord like this.
  9. jabberwock

    jabberwock Well-Known Member

    I think the thing that people seem to forget is that there is a big difference between writing by hand and cursive. Even if cursive were to disappear tomorrow we would all still be able to write by hand. Printing, short hand, and cursive are all just different ways to accomplish the same thing. Cursive is a quicker and more orderly form of handwriting, but it is by no means the only one.
    lradke likes this.
  10. lradke

    lradke and doggone it, people like me

    Thanks! My whole idea is strictly about cursive.
  11. swarden43

    swarden43 "It's your shave. Enjoy it your way."©

    I would like to see it continue to be taught, but I seriously doubt that's going to happen.
    As others have mentioned, it will soon be obsolete in the general public, perhaps only known by those whose parents took the time to teach them.
    jabberwock likes this.
  12. ins0ma

    ins0ma Well-Known Member

    I re-taught myself cursive a few years ago, and started writing on occasion with fountain pens. An idea I was kind of proud of was writing my mother letters in cursive in nice ink, then scanning and emailing them to her. Kind of a retro take on modern communications and she loves it. I plan on teaching my daughter cursive regardless of whether she needs to know it or not. It's an art, and something that connects us to our forebears through thousands of years of history, and I believe it's a tradition worth preserving.
    CJames likes this.
  13. feeltheburn

    feeltheburn Well-Known Member

    Back just before the USSR dissolved, the US Army sent me to school for a year to learn Russian. Apparently cursive is the only way Russian is handwritten so that's how we had to learn it. There are several letters that look the same in both languages but make different sounds. For example a cursive g in English makes a d sound in Russian. It seems the way my brain is wired, I had difficulty switching between the two languages when writing in cursive. So, I began to print in English. To this day I can't write English in cursive without some of the letters coming out wrong.

    I know that has nothing to do with the question but I think cursive writing is worth learning even if I can't do it in English anymore.
  14. NoobShaver

    NoobShaver BGDAAA

    I do think kids should be taught to write by hand, but I don't see the need to learn cursive. I learned cursive in elementary school, along with lessons on letter writing. How to write a formal letter, a business letter, how to address it properly, etc... The lessons on letter writing have proved invaluable. The cursive lessons... not so much. I think I stopped using cursive in high school- whenever it was, it was because I couldn't read my own handwriting.

    I was leading a program with a group of kids one weekend and part of the lesson involved writing a letter to themselves. Less than a quarter knew how to address an envelope. They literally had no idea. These were 9th graders from affluent families.
    jabberwock likes this.
  15. Erik Redd

    Erik Redd Lizabeth, baby, I'm comin' to join ya.

    Writing cursive is an unnecessary skill. I take all my handwritten notes in print letters and write notes to others in the same. I developed this habit 30 years ago when I had to do some manual drafting that required neat, precise lettering. My oldest daughter had a hard time in 4th grade because she had a teacher that placed great emphasis on cursive writing and her handwriting was pretty bad. Now she just finished her freshman year in college with a major in chemistry and won a creative writing award from an essay she submitted (of course it wasn't cursive). Her handwriting is still not pretty, but neither is mine.

    If I had been born a year earlier, I would have had to learn how to use a slide rule. Now very few people under 40 would recognize a slide rule if they saw one. The time spent learning to use a slide rule would not have been a good use of instructional time in school.

    You can easily learn how to read cursive, but there's no reason to learn how to write cursive, especially with an emphasis on forming neat, pretty letters. The only cursive I read these days is junk mail that's printed to look like a personal message. There wouldn't be a great loss if I couldn't read it.
    jabberwock likes this.
  16. ins0ma

    ins0ma Well-Known Member

    I think there is great intrinsic value in aesthetics; in caring about shape, form and the artistry of design, and further, in the discipline of learning one of the corner-stones of human civilization -- writing. We live in an age of generic, impersonal, mass-produced and marketed "digital" and "virtual" things, but that doesn't mean that old skills have no place, and it also doesn't mean that these skills have no value for future generations. I also find it hard to agree with a "zero-sum" view of education: the idea that if you learn one thing you won't have time or be able to learn another. It seems to work the other way, in fact, in that the more you learn, the more you're able to learn, especially when the subject is cross-disciplinary, like writing in cursive -- it uses both sides of the brain. I have no issue with someone disliking cursive because they find it too difficult (at least that's an honest perspective), but I don't think it should be a "baby with the bath water" situation. Along the same lines, I also believe that spelling, punctuation and grammar are important, despite the current "text" and "internet" language trends.
    Queen of Blades, KLF and Ryan B like this.
  17. tuxxdk

    tuxxdk International Penguin of Mystery

    Yeah, cursive isn't neccesary, but generic handwriting is. I thought the thread was about handwriting in general, and not cursive per se.

    My post above is about generic handwriting, not cursive.
  18. Ryan B

    Ryan B Knight of the Soapocracy

    Taking notes in high school and college is easier, faster, and neater in print. As long as you can read, comprehend what you read, and be able to convey some thought; you should be good to go. Also, make sure kids know that when writing a paper, a letter, or any other thing; that they know how to use the right tenses of certain words.

    My general take on education is: if you don't need it in the real world, don't put so much emphasis on it. How many people are going to need to know what a quadratic equation is, know what a covalent bond is, know what a parabola is, how to do a word problem in math, how to find a greatest common factor, or all that other useless stuff in math. Now stuff with graphs is useful: how to plot points and stuff like that is useful so you can read a map. History is also important. It's pretty sad when there are people who think that WWII was fought between the USA, UK, and Germany against Russia. Or that they can't find any countries on the map or don't have a real understanding of International Relations.
    jabberwock likes this.
  19. Craig12

    Craig12 Member

    Outside of my signature, I haven't used cursive since I graduated in 2004. I still think it's necessary for people to know how to read it, but not necessarily be educated and tested on writing it. I always felt it was awesome reading old documents (historic documents, hand war correspondences, etc.).

    My biggest concern is the use of electronic short hand in both spoken and written language. I am not opposed to it in certain situations. It does in fact save time when texting or using online forums including this one. I just don't see how saying LOL instead of, or in addition to, actually laughing adds any value.

    Just my 2 cents.
    jabberwock likes this.
  20. Erik Redd

    Erik Redd Lizabeth, baby, I'm comin' to join ya.

    Unfortunately there's a set amount of classroom time for teaching, I think it's 180 days a year with probably about 5 hours of classroom time a day for teaching. That's 900 hours a year that needs to be used effectively and value judgements need to be made on what is most important for kids to learn. I just think cursive doesn't rate that high on the priority list.
    jabberwock likes this.

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