Making the Case for Cursive

There’s a good chance that if you’re reading this, you are fluent in reading and writing cursive, or “script” as it was called when I was a child. That’s because it was part of the core curriculum in the United States education system for decades. A strong focus on penmanship was important for generations, well before the age of print, typewriters and computers. Unfortunately, schools across the country are now forced to make room for educating a myriad of new skills and that is forcing cursive to get cut. This is a very bad thing for the current and future generations.

I will admit that until about a month ago, I hadn’t written anything other than my signature in cursive until I took a few courses on the art of lettering on SkillShare. I’ve since committed to writing everything in cursive to bring my penmanship back up from the chicken scratch it’s become after years of neglect. I’m diligently practicing every day in a “Spencerian Penmanship” workbook and noticing a marked difference over the past few weeks.

I’ve always loved lettering and appreciated all forms of it, from beautiful flowing ornate cursive to urban graffiti. I’ve also been a typeface junkie since I was a teenager, studying the elements of various fonts used by bands I loved on albums and liners notes.

As the father of a kindergartener learning to read, I was reminded that to those not educated to read and write cursive, this communication is akin to a foreign language. It made me realize that while he’s very unlikely to write nearly as much in his computer-first life as his father has, a wonderful form of artistic expression may die out as well.

Next time you’re reading something, such as a magazine article or even an advertisement, pay attention and look for the use of cursive within it — you may be surprised how much, especially that which stands out to you, is using this beautiful form of writing in everyday life. Writing which to people fluent in English is still foreign. In fact, the one document our nation holds most dear to its heart, the United States Constitution, is written completely in cursive. Are we really setting up the future generations to look at a document of this importance as unreadable?

Not all schools are cutting cursive from the curriculum — it’s currently up to the discretion of each district, but I hope that we can think of the consequences eliminating this skill from our children’s toolkit will have on artistic expression. It’s no different than supplementing the other forms or artistic and musical expression that sadly are the first to go in today’s society.

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