Will Cursive Become a Lost Art?

keyboardI write all my posts on my laptop. Using the keyboard is second nature to me, and I don’t have to look at the keys or even the computer to know that I’m typing the right letters. I feel that my thoughts flow better when I type when when I write by hand. Conversely, I do appreciate lovely handwriting – it’s a sort of art form.  Tennessee lawmakers may agree, to some extent, as they have proposed a bill that would require all students in the state to learn cursive handwriting.

House Bill 1697
Written by State Rep. Sheila Butt, R-Columbia, the bill aims to continue the knowledge of the cursive writing form. Ideally, all students should know how to read and write the script by the time they complete 3rd grade. The bill supposedly came after parents and teachers complained that students couldn’t read handwritten notes. Butt also fears children may reach a point where they can no longer read important historic documents, such as the Bill of Rights in its original form.

“Cursive writing is timeless because it connects us to our past,” Butt told FoxNews.com.

Furthermore, Butt says she investigated the matter and found high school juniors and seniors who did not have a cursive signature to use on legal documents. The discovery astounded her.

The fate of cursive elsewhere
Tennessee wouldn’t be the first state to require cursive education. California, Georgia and Massachusetts, for example, mandate that all students must learn the art. Other states let schools or districts decide for themselves, or have no requirement whatsoever.

My education
It’s interesting reading and writing about this issue when I grew up in a transitional period. Some lawmakers fear that cursive, and handwriting in general, is on its way out. Kids can figure out how to use a keyboard, type and interact with computers from a very young age, and it’s happening with increased regularity.

Growing up, I had to learn to type. I remember my teacher printing out these keyboard pictures on card stock and assigning “typing” homework. That teacher wasn’t required to teach my class to type, she just felt it was important. Now that I use computers so much in my daily life (I write for a living), I can’t thank her enough. I am able to type very fast and the skill comes in handy everyday.

I also had to learn cursive in the second grade. Compared to typing, I almost never use it. My legal signature is in cursive, but when I handwrite I choose a more streamlined font (for lack of a better term). I suppose learning cursive is a good thing in that I have a signature and I can read others’ cursive. But I’m not sure I share the same passion that lawmakers have about preserving the knowledge. I think kids should know how to read it, and I also guess writing goes hand-in-hand.

Becoming an art form
I don’t really think cursive will be gone forever if we stop teaching it in schools. If anything, I imagine it will become an art form. Honestly, it’s obsolete as a practical application of written English. But it is beautiful and requires skill. Realist painting went to the wayside (or gave way to surrealism and impressionism) when photography went mainstream, so it follows that cursive will give way to typing.

What do you think about cursive? Should kids be required to learn it? Is it obsolete? Is it art?


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