A small article about the Belmont College Mindset List appeared in the morning paper today. Each year the college puts together a list of interesting bits of information about the incoming freshman class. I was surprised by one of the items. Apparently, most of this year’s incoming freshmen do not know how to write in cursive. This fact led me to my computer where I have spent the last few hours researching cursive handwriting (of course I am supposed to be working on a book project today so the topic of handwriting had great appeal as a way to delay the inevitable).

It appears that although the majority of elementary school teachers teach cursive, it is not required in some schools and students don’t appear to be using cursive as much as they used to. In fact 85% of college bound students who take the SAT print their response to the essay. Many believe that cursive writing is a dying art. By the way cursive is called “joined-up” writing in the UK and “running writing” in Australia (isn’t the Internet great?).

Proponents of cursive argue that the style of writing is more fluid and quicker than printing. They also say that we need cursive for signatures and thank you notes. Furthermore, many historical documents (like the Declaration of Independence) were written in cursive.

I hated handwriting in school. It was boring and torturous. Back in the old days, when elementary schools gave grades, my only C ever was in handwriting. I was always jealous of my friend who went to a Catholic school and had beautiful handwriting. So, my feelings about cursive might be a bit biased.

Kids need to learn how to communicate in many forms, including the written word. The method they use to express themselves in writing matters less than the product. When you think about how much material is available to today’s children and how little time there is to teach it—handwriting might be a luxury that we don’t particularly need. On the other hand, we suffered through learning it so shouldn’t they? :-)

I’m curious what our readers think about this issue. I admit to some ambivalence myself. And what does writing cursive have to do with anxiety? Not much–so relax and don’t worry too much about the cursive controversy.