The Logic of Cursive–Leah Farish

As I have taught at the college level through the years, I have seen more and more students who don’t–and say they can’t–write cursive.  Even signatures are becoming a thing of the past.  Instead, young people laboriously print block letters if they have to put pen to paper; many favor a keyboard, even for taking class notes.  (A few just sit back without taking notes at all, and then just photograph the board at the end of the lecture.)

The word cursive comes from the Latin word for run–cursive writing is “running writing”–meant to move much faster than printing.  So it is ideal for note-taking.   So why are students not being taught cursive so much any more?

I suspect 4 reasons, all of which are inadequate:

  • Cursive is time-consuming to teach and supervise.  It’s a skill that takes practice to master.
  • There is a slightly subjective and aesthetic element to it that unfortunately may make some educators skittish about assessing it.
  • Because of the above and other reasons, it isn’t part of the huge complex of mandated testing, an altar at which most public educators feel the must bow down  (in other words, they don’t teach what won’t be on The Test.)
  • The keyboards and touch screens of technology lure educators and convince them their schools are cutting-edge

But the long-term effects of imparting the skill of cursive letters to children outweigh the short-term downside. Researchers Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer have shown that the process of handwriting in note-taking increases comprehension and recall.  Amazingly, handwriters even excelled in ability to generalize from handwritten material.

Enter Linda Shrewsbury and her “Cursive Logic” system, which flies in the face of all these assumptions and teaches cursive quickly and simply.  Dr. William Klemm, Senior Professor of Neuroscience at University of Texas, says that “learning cursive is developmentally beneficial for a young developing brain,” with those benefits including increased eye-hand coordination, self-control, and involvement with the material.  He also praises Shrewsbury’s technique, which is novel enough to make purchasing her interactive book a must for any elementary school.

Everyone deserves to have their own signature.  Check out www.cursivelogic.com for more information.  In honor of National Handwriting Day today, I’m pledging an additional $100 to Cursive Logic’s Kickstarter campaign!