Flip the script: Cursive sees revival in school instruction In this Wednesday, March 1, 2017, photo, Christine Weltner helps one of her third-grade students as he practices his cursive handwriting at P.S.166 in the Queens borough of New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Flip the script: Cursive sees revival in school instruction

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Cursive writing is looping back into style in schools across the country. It is happening after a generation of students have been taught only keyboarding, texting and printing out their words longhand.
Alabama and Louisiana passed laws in 2016. The laws mandated cursive proficiency in public schools. They were the latest of 14 states that require cursive. And last fall, the 1.1-million-student New York City schools, the nation's largest public school system, encouraged the teaching of cursive to students. That would generally be in the third grade.
"It's definitely not necessary but I think it's, like, cool to have it," said Emily Ma. She is a 17-year-old senior at New York City's academically rigorous Stuyvesant High School. She was never taught cursive in school and had to learn it on her own.
Penmanship proponents say writing words in an unbroken line of swooshing l's and three-humped m's is just a faster, easier way of taking notes. Others say students should be able to understand documents written in cursive, such as, say, a letter from Grandma. And still more say it's just a good life skill to have. Especially, when it comes to signing your name.
That was where New York state Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis drew the line on the cursive generation gap. She had encountered an 18-year-old at a voter registration event. He had printed out his name in block letters.
"I said to him, 'No, you have to sign here,'" Malliotakis said. "And he said, 'That is my signature. I never learned script.'"
Malliotakis is a Republican from the New York City borough of Staten Island. She took her concerns to city education officials. She found a receptive audience.
Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina distributed a handbook on teaching cursive writing in September. Farina is encouraging principals to use it. It cites research suggesting that fluent cursive helps students master writing tasks such as spelling and sentence construction because they don't have to think as much about forming letters.
Malliotakis also noted that students who can't read cursive will never be able to read historical documents. "If an American student cannot read the Declaration of Independence, that is sad."
It's hard to pinpoint exactly when cursive writing began to fall out of favor. But cursive instruction was in decline long before 2010, when most states adopted the Common Core curriculum standards, which say nothing about handwriting.
Some script skeptics question the advantage of cursive writing over printing and wonder whether teaching it takes away from other valuable instruction.
Anne Trubek is the author of "The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting." She said schools should not require cursive mastery any more than they should require all children to play a musical instrument.
"I think students would all benefit from learning the piano," she said. "But I don't think schools should require all students take piano lessons."
At P.S. 166 in Queens, Principal Jessica Geller said there was never a formal decision over the years to banish the teaching of cursive.
"We just got busy with the addition of technology. And we started focusing on computers," she said.
Third-graders at the school beamed as they prepared for a cursive lesson recently. The 8-year-olds got their markers out. They straightened their posture and flexed their wrists. Then it was "swoosh, curl, swoosh, curl," as teacher Christine Weltner guided the students in writing linked-together c's and a's.
Norzim Lama said he prefers cursive writing to printing "'cause it looks fancy." Camille Santos said cursive is "actually like doodling a little bit."
Added Araceli Lazaro: "It's a really fascinating way to write. And I really think that everybody should learn about writing in script."

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What factors work against cursive?
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  • devynm13-
    3/10/2017 - 08:42 a.m.

    Some script skeptics question the advantage of cursive writing over printing and wonder whether teaching it takes away from other valuable instruction.

    • kellenc-jac
      3/31/2017 - 04:25 p.m.

      I agree Devyn, there are more important things that cursive. I also think it should be optional to learn cursive. I also think you should take a class or learn it on your own time.

      • coreyb-jac
        3/31/2017 - 06:01 p.m.

        i see what you mean kellenc but if you don't learn cursive in an early stage it may effect you in high school. And just like it said in the article you may not be able to read early historical documents. Also your kinda right because in 3rd grade i hated cursive too.

      • jacks-jac1
        3/31/2017 - 06:16 p.m.

        I respectively disagree with you Bruce I feel that learning how to read and write cursive is an important building block. I also feel that learning cursive can just help in every day things like writing your name. And Finally, I wish I would really know how to write cursive and not just read it.

  • nathanm14-ste
    3/10/2017 - 02:39 p.m.

    In my area, my grade was one of the last to learn cursive. I don't know why they would stop teaching it because there are so many uses for it in everyday life. Not to mention that if you can't even sign your own name it makes you look like an idiot.

    • danickab-jac
      3/31/2017 - 06:05 p.m.

      I respectfully disagree Nathan. I think that it does not matter whether they learn it or not. True, if you can't sign your name in cursive, how are you ever going to sign contracts? But people mainly write in normal writing like this font. But, if they ever need to be writing in cursive i think it is a good idea to be teaching cursive.

  • lorennr-bur
    3/13/2017 - 09:47 a.m.

    I think that it is sad that kids don't know how to write their name in cursive. I feel like the people that are working against cursive are the people that don't know how to write their name in cursive. I am very glad that cursive is coming back to schools so kids can learn how to read it and write it.

    • ericaw-kut
      3/20/2017 - 12:47 p.m.

      I'm glad that cursive is coming back too. It is an important skill to have.

  • kennethh1-bur
    3/13/2017 - 10:46 a.m.

    Cursive mostly died when the Common Core standards came in. It didn't have any particular requirements on handwriting. I don't it that often, but I wish they would have taught us more in elementary school because I was still rough in I was still in 4th grade...

  • maylynm-bur
    3/13/2017 - 12:38 p.m.

    Some factors that go against cursive are that learning cursive can take time away from learning other things. Also with all the technology we have it wasn't really needed. I think that teachers should start teaching cursive again because there are a lot of important documents that were written in cursive, and if we cant read them, then that's sad.

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