Handwriting obsolete?

Nowadays, the only time I put pen to paper is to write a note on a birthday card or to jot down notes in a meeting when I don’t have my laptop.

Nearly all personal correspondence has been via e-mail or typed letters for the past few years and I envision that trend continuing.

With the exception of knowing cursive to write a signature, is it of much value for kids to learn how to write in cursive? Virtually all of their papers in school will be typed by junior high school and even in college, there are fewer essay questions. Do the essay questions even regard penmanship as a valid scoring criteria, in addition to the content?

I will admit, I respect and admire people with good penmanship. I always got Cs in penmanship in 2nd and 3rd grade, when that was graded on your report card. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons I don’t like to write much now, even though I’ve made an effort to improve it (at least by switching to all caps to make it easier to read). When I see someone who writes poorly (meaning it looks like chicken scratch) I’m not impressed, but I can hardly blame them for not making much of an effort to improve it.

I would much rather have kids learn how to type well because that is a skill that will be far more useful to them in daily life (for now at least).

I had already written the above blog entry as a draft, but today I happened upon this article from the Washington Post, confirming my opinion of cursive and handwriting. It indicates the general consensus of the educational community is that there are bigger fish to fry than teaching cursive and grading on handwriting.


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  1. Careful! Last time I wrote about this, I got an earful. :)

    Comment by Levi on October 11, 2006 @ 12:07 pm
  2. Heh. I remember that. You really did get an earful, but at least you survived.

    Comment by dan on October 11, 2006 @ 12:50 pm
  3. Judging by some of the signatures I’ve seen recently, I wouldn’t say these people actually learned cursive ;)

    Comment by Justin on October 11, 2006 @ 1:15 pm
  4. Very true. I question the need to learn cursive at all, because most signatures (mainly from guys) bear little resemblance to any cursive taught by a schoolteacher.

    Comment by dan on October 11, 2006 @ 2:30 pm

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