28 votes

What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades

Does handwriting matter?

Not very much, according to many educators. The Common Core standards, which have been adopted in most states, call for teaching legible writing, but only in kindergarten and first grade. After that, the emphasis quickly shifts to proficiency on the keyboard.

But psychologists and neuroscientists say it is far too soon to declare handwriting a relic of the past. New evidence

suggests that the links between handwriting and broader educational development run deep.

Children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information. In other words, it’s not just what we write that matters — but how.


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Everything is going digital...

But I like to keep writing, especially cursive, fresh :)

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What this really is....

....if one can read and write cursive......

...they can understand the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Historical writings are in cursive also.

Dumbing-Down of America.

"Beyond the blackened skyline, beyond the smoky rain, dreams never turned to ashes up until.........
...Everything CHANGED !!

Cursive writing has personal

Cursive writing has personal identity traits as voice, appearance, personality the list goes on and on.
Even in the court system they use handwriting experts for validation of identity.
This is just one more way of eliminating self identity one piece at a time.

Dumb them down and make them dependant is the game plan!


Yet another reason why we home school

My wife thinks handwriting is very important and includes cursive in our kids' curriculum.

My 9 year old has beautiful cursive penmanship now because of her attention.

The local schools here dropped cursive awhile back apparently.

Our family's journey from the Rocket City to the Redoubt: www.suburbiatosimplicity.com

Thanks for posting

It's pretty ironic (pathetic) that under Common Core that they (apparently)
won't be teaching handwriting after first grade.

I guess this will be yet another area where America gets
dumbed down while other countries keep their eye on the
ball and their standards up.

Handwriting ability has suffered some in other countries due
to the ubiquity of tablets and such, but looks like Japanese
kids (for example) will be spending a lot more time and effort
on English handwriting than Americans will. I wouldn't bet that
the Indians or the Koreans or Chinese will be giving up handwriting
in their education systems anytime soon either.

In Japan there is basically no such thing as a printed or digital resume
actually used in a job application - you have to write out everything
by hand (in kanji) for each job you apply for. I used to think that
was cumbersome and archaic - now I'm not so sure it's a bad idea.

Having taught thousands of kids, I'm convinced that there is something
about handwriting that stimulates and reinforces language ability.

Fascinating subject, but I have to get up in the morning and teach
English (including handwriting) to some 4 and 5 year old kids...

Signing off...

I think

just a little more individualism is lost.

Michael Nystrom's picture

This book is on my desk right now -

No joke.


Thanks for the article. What a weird coincidence.

I'm getting ready to move, so I'm sorting books - what to keep, what to sell to used bookstores, and what to just give to Goodwill.

I pick up all kinds of books off the street. Boston is a giant college town, and when the kids leave - like right around now - they leave all kinds of crap behind in boxes on the street. No doubt this is where I picked this book up. I can't imagine that I would buy it.

And yet... It is very interesting. Very interesting indeed. If you're interested in such things, and you believe in such things, this is a great book.

To be mean is never excusable, but there is some merit in knowing that one is; the most irreparable of vices is to do evil out of stupidity. - C.B.

I know a handwriting analyst who says this.

I did what she said and changed the way I formed several letters and it worked for me. Of course, that wasn't scientific, but it was uncanny.

this site is becoming a bunch of old men

sitting around talking about the good ol' days. 'kids these day this' and 'kids these days that.' You need to adapt to a world that is changing at rate like never before. Sitting around and getting pissed about how kids dont learn cursive is just an act of mental masturbation. I have NO idea how to read cursive. If you give me something in cursive i can figure it out eventually but it takes me like 15 minutes. so what... I also went to the top college in world for my degree and did some cutting edge research.
My hand writing sucks. Its sloppy. I can make it better if i try but the time it takes to write neatly is usually neglected. This doesn't matter. I can type 100 words a minute. Have been published multiple times.

Excuse me Im not trying to toot my own horn here. Im just saying that instead of complaining about how things arae changing, get on board. For F@#$s sake, lifes too short to sit around living in the past. Today is excited and amazing, jump on it, be part of the change!

That's sad. I would hate to be illiterate

in that way.

Well, your expierience

seems to show that people can excel in different areas without being proficient in cursive, though you may be an exception to the norm. I think there are some capacities that the modern generation has developed growing up with technology that previous generations did not have. However, there are some that have been lost. There's some benefit to taking the best from different generations.

If I could presume to give just a bit of advice... I think some of your points or disagreements would have had better reception to be discussed in the community if it was a bit more polite and civil. I suspect you would go back and edit it if you could so I'll give you a +1 to remove one of the negative votes to encourage you in that direction. :-)

yeah your probably right,

I guess i was trying to be hyperbole/humorous. I dont think i will edit it because its was said, and like toothpaste, once its out it isnt going back in:)

There certaintly is things to learn from the past and i dont diagree. I feel like i have been reading things on this site on a daily about how "kids these days" and its been getting to me a bit.

I am sorry if anyone took my comment as a personal offense.

fireant's picture

I took your comment as humor.

The best humor reveals truth. I love to drop sarcasms in public; it's so much fun. The other day while standing in line at Wally's and the clerk stated the total due to the customer in front of me, I blurted out, "Ever notice how nice they are when they want your money"? Everyone in earshot got a kick out of it, and the clerk and I had a nice little banter going as I checked out.
Have fun is my motto, and there is nothing in your comment to be sorry for imo.

Undo what Wilson did

I guess top college in the world

doesn't teach punctuation or capitalization either. Guess I didn't miss much. ;-)

actually no

I didn't get taught punctuation and grammar. I'll admit its not perfect, especially when i'm writing at a furious rate spurred by anger (and online). :)

Well that says a lot.

You type a furious rate because you are angry at people who don't think that everyone should depend on keyboards for communication. People who are smart enough to know that just because there is a 'new way', doesn't make it a better way. Why not accept people for who they are? Life is too short...right? Surely it's too short to get pissed off at people for not jumping on the "kill handwriting" band wagon. Oh, and by the way, "I'm not tooting my own horn" is saying "Yes, I'm tooting my own horn here". But I'm pretty sure that nobody is impressed with your self confessed writing career, or your wpm on a keyboard. Maybe somebody in junior high would be impressed, but hell they don't even know how to write in cursive any more.

fireant's picture

The pure meaning of "Conservative"

is to conserve those things of value. The pure meaning of "Liberal" is to embrace the new which has value.
As one of those old farts you refer to, I totally agree with your admonition to embrace the many exciting new technology developments which make life easier and more productive, even though the learning curve is challenging in some instances.
On the flip side, there is great value in some things which appear on the surface as obsolete. Pencils and pens made quill pens obsolete, but the art of cursive is still a rudimentary skill which is the basis for art. I'm not smart enough to be able to pinpoint the exact value, but intuitively I sense that cursive skills are valuable in hand/eye coordination, and should at least be learned at elementary levels. (Not to mention the literal thrill you will give Grandma by sending her an "old fashioned" "Thinking of You" or birthday card with a note in cursive).

Undo what Wilson did

I've seen references

to calligraphy and fencing or swordsmanship in a few Chinese martial arts movies or "historical" dramas.

Here is one that I can remember from "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon." This one is dubbed, but it gives the gist of what was said.


Also, I remember watching a documentary about the different classes in Japanese society in previous centuries. When they were talking about the samarai warriors it said they focused on their fighting skills as well as calligraphy. There seems to be some connection or carryover from the these arts into other "practical" skills.

fireant's picture


I still like to draw with Japanese pen and brush

Undo what Wilson did

I have to admit,

I'm not very familiar with different drawing styles but have thought about what some of the purposes or benefits may have been. I like the way you hint at the presence of water by distorting the reflection of the bird's legs.

There is a video clip of John Taylor Gatto where he discusses the "14 Principles of an Elite Boarding School Curriculum."

The eleventh principle is "The power of accurate observation and recording." He says, "It used to be an axiom among the British upper classes that if you could not draw what you saw with your eye, then you in fact were not seeing what was there. So drawing wasn't a way to kill time, but a way to sharpen the perception."



When I was younger, I didn't fully appreciate the arts, but looking back, I can now see how the ability to draw accurately would have helped me to visualize and draw figures, diagrams, or representations in my notes.

I totally agree with this.

The ability to observe something and see the details is very good training for the brain. Im not sure if you were still talking about cursive here but i think that learning cursive can help in drawing but isn't a necessary component. If drawing is the goal there is many paths to that and cursive is one of the many. Im not sure axing cursive = inability to draw.

The discussion triggered another memory

so I sort of branched out from cursive to talk about the ability to draw or specifically sketch. Perhaps you've seen those movies of naturalists in the 1700s or 1800's who keep leather-bound notebooks which contain their observations and sketches of birds, insects, or other botanical subjects. The movie “Master and Commander” had excellent examples, but I can't find the specific clip. I suppose cursive could help develop fine motor control, however, as you mentioned, a more direct path would be to treat them as two separate subjects, cursive and sketching, and learn each individually.

I've also read some biographies about artists and naturalists in the book Self-Help, by Samuel Smiles. It has a lot of quotes from famous individuals who developed themselves in various fields.

yeah those naturalist were killer.

Darwin's note books are simply incredible. I know what you mean, there is something about drawing your observations that really just triggers my eccentric gene:)

I work as a geologist and when i do field work i take a note book with me. When i'm done with my fieldwork, and thumbing through my notes it really makes me wish i was like those old naturalist. Speaking of old drawing, I have often flipped through the pages of really old USGS volumes and they are filled with these fantastic geological drawings. They are so interesting you cant help but fully engage with the diagram Vs todays computer drawings which are sterile and boring. Drawings are not practical anymore because they take weeks and cant be updated but i hear ya, there is something romantic about that old style.

I think you've really hit on some key points

when you said "there is something about drawing your observations that really just triggers my eccentric gene." Also, when you said, "They are so interesting you can't help but fully engage with the diagram." Drawing pictures and diagrams fully engages you with your subject. This observation has so many implications that I'll have to work to keep from branching out into too many directions. :)

We've all heard how, to excel in any vocation, it's to our advantage to choose a career where our passions lie. However, no matter what occupation we are engaged in, there will often be things that we find boring or uninteresting. The key here is to find ways to develop and deepen our interest and attention on an subject or task. The Self-Help book, by Samuel Smiles, which I linked to above, is filled with many great examples of how people obsessed about details (for long periods of time) which many would pass over without giving further notice. That obsession over details is one of the primary ways of developing interest. This interest and attention develops ones powers of concentration and helps strengthen the memory. The key is to be able to generate this interest and attention, at will, on whatever object one chooses. The book, Memory: How to develop, train and use it, addresses this subject well. You might also enjoy Samuel Smiles' short biography(in Self-Help) of William Smith, the father of English Geology. My interest in geology has grown since reading about permaculture. Permaculture basically takes from different fields and incorporates it into a practical philosophy of sustainability. One of the things it heavily draws from is the work of P.A. Yeomans, who was an Australian mining geologist/hydrologist who observed water flow through the landscape and developed his Keyline design approach for shaping the landscape to capture and store water above ground with small dams, and below ground within the soil profile, for use during the dryer seasons. Ever since reading about that, I can't help but try to visualize the soil and strata when I'm driving through various landscapes. But that's a whole other subject. lol

Anyways, I can see how even some simple sketching could help this process at least in the initial stages. Then, of course, one could use computer graphics for the final product. This reminds me of how movie studios use pencil or marker sketches in storyboarding, in the initial stages, to help visualize movie shots.

A few years ago, I bookmarked a book on amazon which was written by a celebrated Jewish math teacher in Russia. From what I understand, he was particularly successful at teaching his students how to visualize and think about graphing, diagrams, cartesian coordinates, etc. As I recall, he first used pictures of birds or other animals to make the subject tangible or real to his students. Unfortunately, I lost the bookmark. I'll have to go back and look for it.

(Just as a side note. The Self-Help book was a widely read book at one point and heavily influenced Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota Industries.)

fireant's picture

I think you just put an exclamation point on the cursive debate!

Are you an educator? I enjoyed that whole clip. Good stuff.

Undo what Wilson did

I'm not an educator,

but I'm fascinated with collecting and storing away past and present knowledge on learning. I'm trying to build out the post below to collect some of the older books on the subject, but it's a little disorganized. There are so many tangentially related subjects to talk about, hence, it's a work in progress.


obviously your not in face to face sales

where hand writing is a must. But wait in my day I used to type 100 wpm, where is the keyboard.

It's funny when you own a business and the power goes out, the employees are like, "what do we do now?" What did they teach you in college if the power goes out?

This made me...

laugh out loud.

This is a perfect example!



If you mean a perfect example of...

"I can't do it therefore it's not worth doing" I agree with you~

Daughter of 1776 American Revolutionists