homeschool / internet / K-5 Tech training / problem solving / second grade / teaching / writing

Is Handwriting So Last Generation–Redux

handwriitingI wrote about the demise of handwriting 2.5 years ago. Seems even truer now than then. One problem for both sides is that Common Core is ‘silent’ on it, according to the Alliance for Excellence in Education. That’s like the Fat Lady warming up, but not sure when she’ll be performing. Where Common Core has a lot to say about many tools required to deliver the education that will lead to college and career for students, it doesn’t mention ‘cursive’ at all. Though Common Core allows for a nominal amount of personalizing–meaning add-ons–only eleven states (as of publication) have amended their education requirements to mandate cursive be included in the curriculum. Not a ringing endorsement. Headlines such as these proliferate in the news:

Technology may script an end to the art of cursive writing

Is cursive’s day in classroom done?

No longer swearing by cursive writing

Studies show one in three children struggle with handwriting. I’d guess more, seeing it first hand as a teacher. Sound bad? Consider another study that one in five parents say they last penned a letter more than a year ago.

Let’s look at the facts. Students handwrite badly, and don’t use it much when they grow up (think about yourself. How often do you write a long hand letter?). Really, why is handwriting important in this day of keyboards, PDAs, smart phones, spellcheck, word processing? I start students on MS Word in second grade, about the same time their teacher is beginning cursive. Teach kids the rudiments and turn them over to the tech teacher for keyboarding.

I searched for reasons why I was wrong. Here’s what I found:

  • 1 in 10 Americans are endangered by the poor handwriting of physicians.
  • citizens miss out on $95,000,000 in tax refunds because the taxman can’t read their handwriting
  • Poor handwriting costs businesses $200,000,000 in time and money that result in confused and inefficient employees, phone calls made to wrong numbers, and letters delivered to incorrect addresses.

What do you think?

More on Handwriting and keyboarding:

Handwriting vs. Keyboarding–from a Student’s Perspective

When is Typing Faster Than Handwriting?


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. She is webmaster for six blogs, CSG Master Teacher, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blogger, a columnist for, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.

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8 thoughts on “Is Handwriting So Last Generation–Redux

  1. When my daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia she had awful handwriting and the specialists that worked with her were adamant that she should have learned cursive not printing because it made her brain think that the words were separate and not connected. Dyslexics do not always see the break in letters. Sometimes they have to be taught to look for periods and punctuation. They have to be taught what it means. She was in 5th grade when we finally figured out what was wrong and she was intensely forced to write cursive for a while and it helped tremendously. She is now a senior in high school and will be able to be successful in whatever she does next. I just have to wonder if we are not creating another monster by “deciding” writing is outdated. Just something I would not have thought about if my daughter had not gone through it.

    • That is interesting. I had no idea. I had the exact opposite with my son who has dysgraphia. His handwriting–print and cursive–were horrible and his experts told us he should be on a computer, that handwriting was a skill he would always have trouble accomplishing. His struggle with it was beginning to affect his writing skills because he worked so hard at the handwriting he didn’t have any extra cerebral power for thinking. We moved him to keyboarding which he learned, speed and accuracy, in third grade in a snap. Everyone was stunned.

      I think the lesson is every child is different. We as parents and teachers have to pay attention and differentiate for needs. Thank you for sharing your story and I’m so glad she’s doing great (no small part to you, btw).

  2. Students who can’t write in cursive make up their own styles of “cursive.” They connect letters together in unusual ways to try to print more quickly. Therefore, instead of one standard form of cursive, I have thirty different types of “handwriting” to try to read, often with difficulty. This problem causes me to spend much more time evaluating their work. Why not teach and expect them to use cursive for their handwritten work? We don’t have computers for every student in the school to use in order to do their class work legibly.

    • Oh, if computers aren’t an option, cursive it is. No doubt. This discussion is more of a trends or big picture idea. If you’re in a position where you could put students on keyboarding rather than handwriting, would you?

      Could your school do a BYOD sort of program–have students bring their own computers? Those have been quite successful in certain circumstances. Or is that not possible?

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  5. No, I say keep cursive handwriting in the curriculum. Learning the skill can give a child a nice penmanship, but a child also practices patience and gains a sense of accomplishment after seeing his or her name in script!

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