Cursive less common today

DEKALB, Ill. – Most students can remember learning the loops and swoops of cursive writing in elementary school, but some elementary education professors and students ponder how important cursive is in today’s society.

In the age of the Internet and word processors, many students have turned to electronic sources to get their writing done.

“Naturally, people prefer using the computer because the results are fast and legible,” said Pamela Farris, professor of literacy education at Northern Illinois University. “In our society, we pursue the ‘get it done ASAP’ approach to our work.”

However, computers are not solely to blame. Other factors as to why children are not using cursive include low teacher expectations, Farris said.

“The blame, I think, should go on the parents,” said Jacklyn Trznadel, junior elementary education major. “They need to be helping their children at home [with cursive writing] on a daily basis.”

Regardless of the reason, some experts contend that cursive writing seems to be taking a backseat to word processors and print writing.

“Children are coming into school with not much experience in writing,” Trznadel said. “If parents took more time to teach their children writing, the children would be able to understand cursive more. Teachers now are more likely to be excited the students can even write in print, so they don’t bother as much with cursive.”

Despite the growing use of computers in today’s society, some say cursive writing is still an important skill.

“I don’t think cursive is a waste of time at all,” Trznadel said. “I think that cursive writing is important because it is more proper. When you have to sign your name on important documents in the future, the children will not be able to sign if they don’t know cursive. It is important for children to learn as much writing as possible.”

Lisa Gianpetro, also a junior elementary education major, said she too finds value in teaching cursive to young children.

“Cursive writing is important when writing business letters and looking professional,” said Gianpetro. “We cannot have computers dominate our lives. If something ever happens to them, then no one will know how to do anything on their own.”

Although cursive writing remains a valuable skill in today’s society, there is still some debate over when the skills should be introduced.

The first motor skills children develop are the line and circle, Farris said. These are the ingredients for print writing. Cursive should be introduced in third grade when children have fine motor skills and can make connections between letters, she said.

“Children should be taught cursive writing in third grade because they already know how to print their letters and can now understand how the cursive process [works],” Gianpetro said.