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I teach handwriting ... and I, too, neither mourn nor fear the abandonment of cursive — precisely because I recognize that handwriting matters.
Research shows: the fastest and most legible handwriters avoid cursive. They join only some letters, not all of them: making the easiest joins, skipping the rest, and using print-like shapes for those letters whose cursive and printed shapes disagree. (Citations appear below)
When following the rules doesn’t work as well as breaking them, it’s time to re-write and upgrade the rules. The discontinuance of cursive offers a great opportunity to teach some better-functioning form of handwriting that is actually closer to what the fastest, clearest handwriters do anyway. (There are indeed textbooks and curricula teaching handwriting this way. Cursive and printing are not the only choices.)
Reading cursive still matters — this takes just 30 to 60 minutes to learn, and can be taught to a five- or six-year-old if the child knows how to read. The value of reading cursive is therefore no justification for writing it.
(In other words, we could simply teach kids to read old-fashioned handwriting and save the year-and-a-half that are expected to be enough for teaching them to write that way too ... not to mention the actually longer time it takes to teach someone to perform such writing well.)
Remember, too: whatever your elementary school teacher may have been told by her elementary school teacher, cursive signatures have no special legal validity over signatures written in any other way. (Don't take my word for this: talk to any attorney.)
/1/ Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, and Naomi Weintraub.
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HANDWRITING STYLE AND SPEED AND LEGIBILITY.
1998: on-line at http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/27542168.pdf
/2/ Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, Naomi Weintraub, and William Schafer.
DEVELOPMENT OF HANDWRITING SPEED AND LEGIBILITY IN GRADES 1-9.
1998: on-line at http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/27542188.pdf
(NOTE: there are actually handwriting programs that teach this way.
Shouldn't there be more of them?)
Yours for better letters,
Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works
and the World Handwriting Contest
6-B Weis Road, Albany, NY 12208-1942 USA
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