1. Adj.: Describing a person born between 1 Jan. 1946 and 31 Dec. 1964
2. Adj.: Description of a person, place or thing possessing Baby Boomer je ne sais quoi
3. See also, Boomer, Esq.: A Baby Boomer who is also a licensed attorney (See, e.g., About).

To Write or Not to Write, That is the Question

by Suzanne Fluhr on March 20, 2014 · 80 comments

letters from Colombia

fountain pen nib

Fountain pen nib. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons. BenFrantzDale

I need to clarify that by “write”, I mean “hand-write”. This post is inspired by a Facebook discussion started by a homeschooling mother. She, her husband, and two young sons (ages 7 and 9) are traveling the world. She expressed some surprise and disagreement upon learning that some homeschoolers are not teaching their children cursive writing — with a fountain pen, no less. I should point out that she was educated in Great Britain and almost qualifies as a Baby Boomer.

If you’re a Baby Boomer, you learned cursive handwriting. In elementary school, we received grades for handwriting. Learning how to type was optional; writing in cursive was not. My recollection (and we’re practically talking ancient history here) is that we started learning cursive in 3rd grade which I started at age 7. I don’t recall having very good handwriting until 7th grade when I had an English teacher, Miss Kelly, who spent the entire year on diagramming sentences and handwriting. Even in 1966, she was considered “old school”. In her defense, I learned grammar and how to write very legibly, both skills that proved valuable.

One of my college majors was Spanish. It’s difficult to learn a foreign language (as a teenager or adult) if you don’t have some grasp of grammar; and, I suspect that the ease with which my college and law school professors could read my examination “blue books” was probably good for a few additional grade points — even if they were awarded subconsciously. However, I must point out that Dr. Excitement (my Baby Boomer physician-scientist husband) has truly horrendous handwriting and he graduated from college and medical school summa cum laude.

I attended 11th grade (1969-1970) in England where my father was an exchange teacher in Devizes, a small, Wiltshire market town. I was intrigued to learn they were still using fountain pens — not a feather and quill, but the kind you had to dip into an ink well and draw up the ink into the pen’s ink reservoir. As you might imagine, this caused some indelible disasters accidents. We then discovered new-fangled fountain pens where you could insert an ink cartridge, thus decreasing (but not entirely eliminating) the possibility of producing unintentional Rorschach tests.

Underwood manual typewriter

This looks a lot like the manual typewriter I took to college in 1971.

My mother was a secretary. Remember those? She in no way encouraged any of her three daughters to learn how to type before we left for college. I think she was quite certain she wanted us to have secretaries, not to be secretaries.

Not knowing how to type was not a good thing during college where our papers had to be typed. As a double major in history and Spanish, with many papers to write, the hunt and peck typing method was beyond frustrating. Wite Out correction fluid was a huge mess, as was the erasable paper to which I resorted. I’m almost sure it wasn’t the only reason, but I ended up briefly married to my college boyfriend who, perhaps not incidentally, typed 90 words a minute.

I didn’t learn to use a keyboard properly until my “he’s a keeper” husband brought home our first desk top computer in 1987 and said, “You’ll never learn how to use this.”

(Finger waggle) Oh – Yes – I – Did. (Snap).

I never thought I’d ever say this, but I don’t think children need to learn how to write in cursive. It’s certainly not worth making young children (especially boys) miserable about and I think some learning is stifled when the mechanics of actually putting pen or pencil to paper gets in the way of thinking and expression.

In the foreseeable future, I think even keyboarding is going to become less important as voice recognition software inevitably largely replaces QWERTY. Our sons (now 27 and 31) were taught cursive handwriting in elementary school, but they were never very good at it (although not as bad as their father). Today, other than for their signatures, they both print on those rare occasions when they have to write by hand.

One reason my Facebook friend thinks her boys need to learn cursive script is her belief that when you apply for a job, you should submit your resume and a hand-written cover letter. I think those days are largely over. Employers these days (and I was one) want to and expect to receive resumes and cover letters via email, simplifying their storage, retrieval and sharing. On most forms we complete by hand, we are instructed to “print”.

letters from Colombia

Some of the letters I wrote to my parents while studying in Bogota, Colombia in 1974.

I have a large cardboard packing carton full of handwritten letters I wrote and received, starting with childish scribbles to my grandparents. Many of them are to and from my parents. In our family, we were trained not to incur long distance telephone charges unless there was a dire emergency, and even then, we were encouraged to wait until after 11:00 p.m. when the charges were lower.

Whenever I traveled and while away at college (in Massachusetts and Colombia), I was an indefatigable letter writer. I asked my friends and relatives to save my epistles for me, so I would have them as sort of a journal.

My handwritten correspondence collection doesn’t peter out completely until about the time my husband brought home our first computer. I’m sad to realize that letter writing, as an historical artifact and an art form, has largely disappeared.

I miss the joy of receiving and writing letters. One of my college work-study jobs was sorting the mail and putting it in the student mailboxes. At lunchtime, my classmates would mill around the mailboxes, eagerly waiting to see if they received any letters. By the time our sons were in college, I had to call or email them to tell them if I was “snail mailing” something to them as they did not even regularly check their physical mailboxes.

Sometimes I miss the feel of crisp paper and the sensation of my pen or pencil gliding over the surface. I miss picking out lovely stationary and the subtle thrill of finding a letter in my mailbox with a loved one’s handwriting on the envelope.

Whenever my friends or relatives returned a packet of my letters to me, they often said, “You know, you should be a writer.” Maybe blog writing is the 21st century equivalent of letter writing — and you don’t get ink all over your hands and clothes.

Update February 7, 2016: I recently watched this YouTube Tedx talk by Jake Weidmann, a certified Master Penman. He makes an eloquent case for reviving the art of penmenship. Soon after I wrote this blog post, I was introduced to Zentangle®. Maria Thomas, one of the creators of the Zentangle method of meditative drawing is, in fact, an artist and calligrapher. Maybe I need to rethink my initial premise that mastering cursive handwriting need not be taught in schools.

Do you think it is still important to teach young children cursive script? Do you miss writing and receiving handwritten letters?

{ 80 comments… read them below or add one }

Leora March 20, 2014 at 9:14 am

I certainly miss the art of handwritten letters! If someone locally wants to teach to write beautiful cursive, I would sign up to learn an art form.

Unfortunately, it really isn’t that important in our modern world. My eldest son seems to have inherited my husband’s gene for difficulty with handwriting. Neither have any problem with a keyboard (and are whizzes at math).

There are only so many hours in the day at school.


Suzanne Fluhr March 20, 2014 at 9:02 pm

Leora, you have a point. Perhaps cursive script should be taught in art class. Some have a talent for it. Others do not and can survive with their other strengths in today’s world.


Catarina March 20, 2014 at 10:21 am

Agree with Leora. It was much more fun to get a handwritten letter than an email. Love social media, the internet and email but somehow it’s become too mechanical.

My handwriting was trained and I was able to write cards professionally. But I’m so used to computers I have lost that ability.


Suzanne Fluhr March 20, 2014 at 9:03 pm

Catarina, I suspect that the ability to write in cursive is somewhat like the ability to play a musical instrument. Once you’ve mastered it, the neural pathways are there, they just have to be re-awakened through practice. It’s up to us to decide whether we want to/have the time to practice.


Jeannette Paladino March 20, 2014 at 11:12 am

Loved this post. Rather than becoming less important, I think hand-written notes are becoming more important simply because you stand out when you send one. It is a joy for me to get an envelope in the mail with a hand-written address that includes a hand-written note. I know that friends have told me what pleasure they get from receiving and reading a hand-written note. I still treasure all the hand-written notes from my late husband. A typewritten note would never be the same.


Suzanne Fluhr March 20, 2014 at 9:05 pm

Jeannette, I can relate to what you are saying. I know that in my husband’s sock drawer, he has some of my letters to him. Our children’s children won’t find a box of their parents’ love letters in the attic. That’s kind of sad.


Laurie Hurley March 20, 2014 at 1:15 pm

I learned cursive in school and learned how to type on a typewriter. My girls (19 and 16) print. Huh? I don’t believe I have ever seen their handwriting. I also don’t think it’s that important in this day and age. The cards I get are from Send Out Cards, which are computer-generated printing.


Suzanne Fluhr March 20, 2014 at 9:07 pm

Laurie—At least they print out the cards! The cards I receive from my sons are digital and remain that way.


Jay March 20, 2014 at 1:28 pm

I agree that there is no need for learning to write in cursive. To this day the only thing i ever even scribble in that awful, unreadible writing style is my name. And that isn’t legible. Gotta show my wife this but she won’t agree.


Suzanne Fluhr March 20, 2014 at 9:09 pm

Jay, you hit a good point. The people who think cursive writing is essential to learn are the people who could do it well. I may be an outlier in that regard. I can write cursive very well and even enjoy it sometimes, but I don’t think it is something everyone has to become proficient at. People have different talents. I think cursive writing is likely to become more of an art form, like calligraphy.


Jeri March 20, 2014 at 2:33 pm

I can easily fall on either side of the fence on this topic. As a teacher, I’ve observed that students who have learned how to write in cursive do achieve a certain level of fluidity of thought earlier on that their non-cursive writing counterparts. It’s no longer taught in many schools. My art teacher friend had written all of her notes on the dry erase board one day in cursive, only to realize most of the students couldn’t read it. I’ve not read much research on how learning to type compares or contrasts to learning cursive. Printing takes more time than cursive. I’m left-handed and have horrible cursive, yet I will always write in cursive if I am freewiting on a pad of paper. If I take notes, I generally print. What matters most if that young children write a lot, whether it be via typing, printing, or cursive. Unfortunately, students are not writing enough and it shows in what they are able to produce.


Suzanne Fluhr March 20, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Jeri, part of me wants cursive to be part of the curriculum because it has been for hundreds of years. That’s probably not a good reason. The important thing is that children be able to read and to express themselves in some written medium. What that medium is will, I suspect, be influenced by technology. However, it is probably best that we be able to communicate and preserve our thoughts in some type of writing that is not dependent on electronic devices.


Lisa March 20, 2014 at 2:49 pm

I want my kids to learn cursive, but they no longer teach it in their school. I don’t have a logical reason why they need to know cursive, I just hate to see it go.


Suzanne Fluhr March 20, 2014 at 9:26 pm

Lisa, I totally understand where you’re coming from. I felt the same way, but I saw what a struggle it was for them and I realize that there were other skills that would prove more valuable to them in today’s world.


Arleen March 20, 2014 at 5:03 pm

I couldn’t agree with your more about writing letters etc. I still send out hand written thank yous to my customers and their responses are very appreciative that I took the time to write a note. Penmanship in school was a big deal. What surprised me is that a friend of mine’s teenager didn’t know how to write or read cursive. I had sent a note and money for his birthday. When I asked my friend how come it doesn’t know cursive handwriting and she told they are not teaching in the schools anymore. Something is wrong is the system…


Suzanne Fluhr March 20, 2014 at 9:28 pm

Arleen, I think that for kids today, learning cursive is something like learning calligraphy would have been for us. It’s nice to know, but if there’s only so much time, they will be much more hampered by not knowing how to keyboard than by not knowing cursive. Still, I think they should probably at least be taught to read it.


Donna Janke March 20, 2014 at 5:34 pm

These days a hand-written note or letter is extra special, because it is so rare. I have mixed feelings about the dying out of cursive writing. I’m not sure our children need to learn it. I do most of my writing (letters included) on the computer now, but every so often sitting and handwriting feels right and helps me think. Journaling seems to work better hand-written. Then again, I’m a baby boomer and learned to write well before I learned to type.


Suzanne Fluhr March 20, 2014 at 9:29 pm

Donna, thanks for weighing in. I still like the idea of hand-writing, but in truth, I accomplish a lot more if I use a keyboard.


andleeb March 20, 2014 at 7:52 pm


I totally agree with you. I have also learned cursive writing in my school and my hand writing was really good at that time. But by development of technology we are far from such things now.
I also have a box full of letters sent to me by friends and family. Now I am continuously using keyboard if sometimes I make list for grocery you will not believe me that I can not even read my own writing.
few days back i came across cursive writing note book of my daughter and I really missed the days when i was writing like that.
I really liked your post as you have written about what I was thinking couple of days before.
I hope you will also stop by my post.
thank you.


Suzanne Fluhr March 20, 2014 at 9:31 pm

The pace of change is so fast now, that it sometimes leaves us breathless. But, things do change. For example, it used to be that to be educated, you needed to know Latin, Greek and perhaps, French. Nowadays, you are much better served by knowing how to code for the computer.


Alice March 20, 2014 at 9:12 pm

Did you really escape typing class at Girls’ High?! I must say it has turned out to be very useful! I still love cursive writing and somehow I think I think differently – more clearly – when I am handwriting.


Suzanne Fluhr March 20, 2014 at 9:33 pm

I “escaped” typing class at Girls’ High for the same reason I didn’t take Driver’s Ed. I spent 11th grade in England, so I had to take American History in 12th grade along with the usual 12th grade history which was “Civics” back in the day. This left me with no elective slots — and 3rd period lunch!


Elaine March 21, 2014 at 9:04 am

I hate the idea that the language of cursive will be lost–if people don’t learn to WRITE cursive, how will they read cursive? Who will interpret all those old letters and notes? What will count as a signature on a check? (Okay, so I mostly pay bills electronically, but I write checks as gifts, between friends, etc.)

I have been told that American students are also no longer taught to read analog clocks. I am just as old-fashioned and fuddy-duddy about that. I don’t like it!


Suzanne Fluhr March 21, 2014 at 9:34 am

Thanks for stopping by, Elaine. I consider myself to be pretty traditional, but I have become increasingly digital and I believe we are at or getting to the point where the time we take to teach children to write in cursive script can be better used teaching them more relevant skills. Just as there are scholars who make it their business to learn cuneiform so they can read ancient tablets, there will be historians who read cursive script, so they can read historical documents—like my box of letters ;-). I think people might still study and practice cursive script as a quaint art form.


Roz Warren March 21, 2014 at 9:43 am

I’m all for jettisoning cursive. Good riddance! My penmanship has been steadily deteriorating since the 3rd grade. These days, even I can’t read it.


Suzanne Fluhr March 21, 2014 at 4:34 pm

I’m surprised, Roz. For some reason, I associate librarians and cursive.


Tim March 21, 2014 at 12:17 pm

Like you, I do miss the feeling of receiving a hand written letter. Email is the equivalent of instant milk. It is void of texture, substance, and that certain flow. Cursive was taught to me in primary school also and I am a firm believer that it made me think about the words I was writing; concentrate to form sentences that made sense.

We met over this very subject Suzanne so you are fully aware of my feelings on the loss of post restante; the romantic era!


Suzanne Fluhr March 21, 2014 at 4:42 pm

I think my boys had the opposite experience with cursive. The physical writing was so difficult that they were determined to write as little as possible.


Christina March 21, 2014 at 2:49 pm

My dad sent me a copy of a letter I wrote to him when I was 13 and he was away at Desert Storm. I was surprised that it was in legible cursive! Nowadays, I have to look up certain letters on-line to remember how to write them in cursive. I’m happy to see my 7 year old niece is taking an interest in learning how to write in cursive.


Suzanne Fluhr March 21, 2014 at 4:46 pm

Your first point is why I miss cursive and hand written letters. Chances are, your father wouldn’t have kept and sent you an old email. Your second point is why I regretfully think it’s probably time to stop requiring that young students learn cursive script.


Doreen Pendgracs March 21, 2014 at 4:28 pm

Fabulous post, Suzanne!

I used to have excellent handwriting skills, but as I very rarely write anything anymore other than birthday cards and grocery lists, my handwriting has really taken a nose dive and I find I make spelling mistakes if I’m not careful. I’m not familiar with the term ‘cursive’ writing, but we did learn to write with fountain pens at some point in school. I didn’t really enjoy that process, but have always enjoyed letter writing. But now, it’s almost all done online. Cheers!


Suzanne Fluhr March 21, 2014 at 4:49 pm

Doreen, I think Canadians of our certain age shared the British fountain pen holdover. By the time I was learning to write cursive script in the early 1960s in the US, Fountain pens for everyday student use were defunct.


Susan Cooper March 21, 2014 at 5:13 pm

There is something very special about putting pen to paper and creating a well crafted sentences. I agree, it’s an art form that is almost lost. I do remember the beautiful old fountain pens from the past. They were art pieces and often cherished. I find it funny that they are now highly collectable, but not for use.

I do remember my first typewriter and so happy I now have a desktop key board to use instead. As for my own handwriting. My signature is deteriorating by the day… LOL.


Suzanne Fluhr March 21, 2014 at 7:57 pm

Susan, it is hard to imagine people writing entire books in long hand. I can’t even quite believe I used to write 8 page letters, but I have the proof 😉


Jonathan Look, Jr. March 22, 2014 at 1:24 am

Yes, absolutely cursive writing should be taught in school still. It is a skill that can be conquered at an early age and held for life. There is something special about actually getting a well written letter or postcard in the mail.


Suzanne Fluhr March 22, 2014 at 3:24 pm

I guess the question is “How much time and effort should be put into learning cursive when the opportunities to use it these days are much fewer?” And the truth is, many people don’t really master it, especially boys. While it’s nice to receive a letter, there is also something to be said for having the ability to easily respond to an email in almost real time.


Patti March 22, 2014 at 1:45 am

Actually, I do think it is a skill kids should learn. I say this as a retired teacher, although I never taught 3rd grade and didn’t teach cursive. Granted, as a society we are (sadly) moving away from using our writing skills, but there is more to it. There are school districts which – even today – do not have computer labs, so kids are not necessarily learning to use a keyboard.

I also taught at the college level and most of my students did not have laptops and would take lecture notes, longhand. Trying to take notes while printing is painfully slow. I did have college students who turned in essays using print, not cursive, and it usually took those students longer to complete exams. Not that speed is the critical piece of the puzzle, but it put them behind.

Agreed, there are some children who are unable to grasp the skills until a later age, but I do think it’s a skill that should be taught. It’s a part of maturing in learning.


Suzanne Fluhr March 22, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Two years ago, I recall writing an essay lamenting the loss of handwritten letters. Since schools really should be teaching keyboarding at an early age, how much time do they realistically have to teach cursive script to the extent that it will be really useful? My experience is that some people can’t use it on exams because they do not write cursive sufficiently legibly, so they have to print. Even people, like moi, who can write legible, even elegant ;-), cursive often evolve their own hybrid of script and printing.


Neva @ Retire for the Fun of it March 22, 2014 at 2:25 am

When I was dating my husband, I badgered him to write me a love letter. He finally gave in and I still have it saved. My mom was frustrated that I didn’t have the talent to write beautifully like she did. Her teacher made her practice circles and loops so her handwriting was gorgeous. In defense of my not so pretty cursive talents, I practiced writing calligraphy just for the fun of it. This was a very good subject and thanks for bringing back wonderful memories.


Suzanne Fluhr March 22, 2014 at 3:29 pm

I think that cursive should still be taught, but I think it is likely to evolve into more of an art form or specialized skill, like calligraphy is today.


Catherine March 22, 2014 at 7:52 am

Really interesting topic. I don’t think being able to write in cursive script is completely necessary, but being able to write with a paper and pen really is. Having these handwriting lessons is a good way to get children away from laptops and computers and back to the basics of pen to paper.


Suzanne Fluhr March 22, 2014 at 3:31 pm

I agree that it is necessary to have some way of “writing” with a writing utensil and paper. I’m just not sure that it has to be in cursive which takes a lot of time to fully master.


Debra Yearwood March 22, 2014 at 8:58 am

Excellent post. When I started reading it I was quite convinced that everyone should learn cursive writing, but as I read on your points forced me to consider my son. At sixteen I might want him to spend some time learning to master cursive writing, but if it had played too much of a role in school, it would have been a disaster. With ADD it’s challenging enough to master content with out adding the very distracting technical piece that cursive becomes. Your also quite right, when you note that other than cheques, why would he need to know? I can’t remember the last time hand written anything was wanted at work, quite the contrary. If someone handed me a handwritten note at work I would be looking for their “secretary” to type it up.

I think there is something really appealing about cursive writing, but I think it has become much more of an art form than a communications device. If we can hold onto it for that reason alone, then I’d be content.


Suzanne Fluhr March 22, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Thanks for your comment, Debra. My sons don’t have ADD (anymore than all boys do), but they kind of struggled with cursive and never use it except for their signatures. I hardly ever even sign checks (cheques) anymore, doing most of my bill paying on line.


Paul Graham March 22, 2014 at 9:33 am

In your case Suzanne, to write is definitely the write answer ! My own writing might kindly be described as neat but illegible but have had some practice this week. Disk crash meant I had to drive from rural Nova Scotia to the nearest library then queue for my 2 hour computer allocation and bang out 1100 words within it. Made some scruffy hand notes to aid the process and with a bit of effort was fortunately able to read them !
Will come back and share this beauty when time permits.Write on !


Suzanne Fluhr March 22, 2014 at 4:02 pm

It’s a little scary how dependent we are on our computers. I hope you were able to resurrect the contents of your hard drive. I certainly think we need to be able to put pen to paper in some fashion, I’m just not sure it has to be cursive script—although that’s my handwriting of choice.


Mike March 22, 2014 at 11:04 am

Suzanne, I guess I don’t take a strong stance on it but I do wish the tradition of writing in cursive would still be taught and learned. It’s really neat to still receive a card, etc that someone has written in cursive. In my experience that has been 100% from females as men all print. Just my experience. I still print but did learn cursive in school did ok with it. Very interesting topic – good read.


Suzanne Fluhr March 22, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Mike, I think your experience in receiving only printed correspondence (if any) from males is fairly typical. It certainly would be in my family. I’m the only one who uses cursive even though the 3 main men in my life were taught cursive at some time or other. I’m also the only one who would even think of hand-writing a letter at this point. (PS: If you email me your snail mail address, I’ll send Phoenix a get well card).


alyson March 23, 2014 at 9:51 am

I’m not talking penmanship, perfectly formed letters, calligraphy even. What I’m taking is cursive in the context of joined up writing. I have used it throughout my life. Every exam in university was hand written, pages and pages at high speed. Every lecture was taken down by hand. I know that has gone now, they just record them, or whatever. But have exams gone? Do they type them? Typing was something only secretarial courses taught when I was in school. Throughout my working career I wrote similar pages of hand written information to be transcribed later by a secretary, I also had to translate other people’s ( doctors) cursive scribble, that is a skill. I really don’t know how many people still write by hand, I know that in my profession we did, we needed to record information in a laboratory setting, voice recognition was there, but it was unreliable, we always returned to hand written descriptions. I do know that if my kids couldn’t write a letter, birthday card or even a post card in joined up writing, I’d be mortified. I’d be even more mortified if when asked why they couldn’t write properly, they replied ” Because I was homeschooled”. I also know that cursive is a lot easier and quicker for my elder son, it flows, there is no pausing, a lot of kids find that. I really don’t think it’s a chore or a big deal, it takes hardly any time to learn and soon replaces “baby writing” as it was known in my day. And probably is still known in my school where most certainly, writing is still taught, with a fountain pen. But yes, I’m British and private school educated, certain standards have become part of who I am. By the way, I can’t type and have never, ever needed to, even when I had to take over from my secretary when she had sick days, I’m pretty darned quick with 1 finger.


Suzanne Fluhr March 24, 2014 at 8:47 pm

I can attest to the fact that learning cursive was not easy for my boys and, as adults, they never use it. When I was in law school, people who preferred to type their exams could go to a typing room. I suspect the profs preferred typewritten exams to some of the bad handwriting they had to deal with. In the U.S., all medical providers are being required to switch to electronic medical records which means data is entered by computer. I admit it’s disconcerting, but most of the time now, one’s physician is busy typing away while the patient is speaking to them. Do your boys a favor and let them use a typing tutor program to learn how to keyboard using both hands If I could learn it, they will too. Many people include their keyboarding speed on their resume.


Neva @ Retire for the Fun of it March 23, 2014 at 11:06 am

I discussed this with my children. In most Salt Lake City schools, cursive is taught until the end of third grade. Now my grandkids are learning to type – in 3rd grade! It’s been an interesting subject that I didn’t realize how it was evolving.


Suzanne Fluhr March 24, 2014 at 8:48 pm

Thanks, Neva. It does seem that many people have an opinion about the subject of cursive writing. Who knew?


Nancie March 23, 2014 at 10:20 pm

There was no typing when I was in school. It was hand writing or nothing. Even in university passing in hand written papers was still an option.

I teach writing here in Korea, and I have to insist that they type what they pass in for grading. Most of them have such bad handwriting that I get a headache trying to figure out they have written. In fairness to my students, many of them do not have a lot of experience in writing in English. They are much more comfortable in writing in Korean script , obviously!


Becc March 24, 2014 at 11:47 pm

I am with Jeannette and like to stand out by penning a thank you note for a really enjoyable night, dinner, an unexpected present etc. Taking the time rather than flitting off an email or text means a little more.
That said, just making the effort in any form is also turning out to be a dying art, so I probably stand out anyway whether it be by text, written or email.


Corinne March 25, 2014 at 5:06 am

Suzanne, As a third grade teacher it is my experience that all kids want to learn to write in cursive. It’s almost a rite of passage to them. I love teaching it and watching them have fun with their own personal style. I hope we continue to teach it, even though I agree it’s almost a dying art! Great post, it got me thinking!


Suzanne Fluhr March 25, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Thanks, Corinne. My first reaction (as a fairly traditional type person) was that of course they should teach cursive in elementary school. Then I thought about it and was surprised to find there are good arguments for the contrary point of view as well.


nan @ lbddiaries April 1, 2014 at 4:08 pm

I love receiving cards with my son’s chicken scratches and signature. Alpha Hubby’s, too. I enjoy his e-cards but the ones I can save in a “sock drawer” mean far more to me than e-cards ever will.

When I was younger, I loved the Big Chief writing tablet with its huge lines, divided so one could learn to write each letter “just so.” Mom made us practice all summer before school. I also collected stationary because it was pretty or fragile. That is probably why now days I have an office self stacked up with empty journals and have fallen in love with Clairefontaine notebooks with their satiny smooth paper that a pen (fountain even) glides over. It is considered the best writing paper in the world. And even if it IS just for journaling or note-taking in meetings, do I not deserve the best (smile)!??

I think it is shortsighted of school systems simply because they are denying generations of people the enjoyment of falling in love with paper and pen. And it is enjoyment that will soon be gone.

And besides – how do you make a spitball with a computer?


Suzanne Fluhr April 1, 2014 at 4:15 pm

LOL on the spit balls. My sister and I still can’t resist office supplies. I do miss w-r-i-t-i-n-g, except when I have a lot to say and not that much time or when I want to say the same thing to several people. I am touched when I find some of the cards I wrote to him in my husband’s sock drawer. Thanks for your comment.


exploramum April 4, 2014 at 8:51 am

My son received a card in the post this week. It was hand written with a note inside to him.
There was way more joy in him receiving that, than any email he has ever received.
A very thought provoking blog!


Suzanne Fluhr April 5, 2014 at 3:11 am

Will you be teaching Explorason to write in cursive?


Bhavesh Patel April 5, 2014 at 2:43 am

I can easily fall on either side of the fence on this topic. As a teacher, I’ve observed that students who have learned how to write in cursive do achieve a certain level of fluidity of thought earlier on that their non-cursive writing counterparts. It’s no longer taught in many schools. My art teacher friend had written all of her notes on the dry erase board one day in cursive, only to realize most of the students couldn’t read it. I’ve not read much research on how learning to type compares or contrasts to learning cursive. Printing takes more time than cursive. I’m left-handed and have horrible cursive, yet I will always write in cursive if I am freewiting on a pad of paper. If I take notes, I generally print. What matters most if that young children write a lot, whether it be via typing, printing, or cursive. Unfortunately, students are not writing enough and it shows in what they are able to produce.


Suzanne Fluhr April 5, 2014 at 3:08 am

I agree. I’m not sure how well they are learning written expression. Just knowing how to text isn’t going to cut it in the real world.


Bhavesh Patel April 7, 2014 at 1:51 am

Well, Don’t know why but this is sounds great Suzanne…


Lori Lavender Luz April 11, 2014 at 3:36 pm

I do miss getting handwritten letters, and the delicious anticipation of getting a letter.

I do wish our kids were still being taught handwriting, but I can see how other things have crowded it out.

Aside: I read once that handwriting, as opposed to typing, activates a different part of the brain. I wonder if I’ve lost some of that over the years.


Suzanne Fluhr April 11, 2014 at 7:52 pm

I used to think better when writing by hand. However, as my keyboarding improved, I think the opposite is probably true now.


Donna Janke April 19, 2014 at 2:13 pm

I am currently reading the book “A Tale for the Time Being” by Ruth Ozeki. I came across these two sentences and thought about your post on handwriting. “Print is predictable and impersonal, conveying information in a mechanical transaction with the reader’s eye. Handwriting, by contrast, resists the eye, reveals its meaning slowly, and is as intimate as skin.” I don’t think print is as mechanical and cold as the quote says, but the description of handwriting is beautiful.


Suzanne Fluhr April 21, 2014 at 4:53 am

Donna, think about how often, we used to be able to tell who was writing to us because we recognized their handwriting. I agree that handwriting is, or rather, can be, “as intimate as skin”.


Sharon April 21, 2014 at 4:41 am

I think cursive writing is still important and needs to be readable. I am a high school teacher and although computers are used a lot in our classrooms, kids still need to write often and it needs to be legible. I think cursive writing is quicker and easier than printing. I do not understand why you need to be able to write with a fountain pen though, or why you would ever apply for a job with a handwritten letter. I think you may struggle getting to an interview if you did that.


Suzanne Fluhr April 21, 2014 at 4:55 am

Sharon, thank you for your comment. I think you’re the first current teacher to weigh in. I don’t think our sons ever used cursive writing even though they were taught it. I think schools don’t spend enough time on it any more for most students to become proficient. If they don’t become proficient, then it was a waste of time.


Maddy Fluhr April 21, 2014 at 11:51 am

Wow! Reading this brought up a lot. I distinctly remember learning cursive as a “write of passage!” (Pun intended) I looked up to you (my big sis!), especially academically and remember being assured by you that all the seemingly impossible-to-me-skills you seemed to possess would be in my realm of capability as I continued in school and learned the building blocks that would lead me to where you were. I am sure “cursive” handwriting was one of those things I was very impressed by. Fortunately/unfortunately I had Miss Kelly for only 1 year (the grammar/handwriting pushing teacher – who reportedly took the occasional nip from her stash in her desk drawer) because we were in England for my equivalent of 8th grade. So my grammar and handwriting are only 1/2 way decent!! Emma, my special needs daughter is proud to be able to write her name in cursive. But as a substitute teacher in the Milpitas Unified School District, it appears that in the last couple of years, learning cursive has been removed from the curriculum and replaced with lots of computer skills time and focus on “common core”. Understandable, but a little sad. Of course, I could not function without my computer, e-mailing, etc. but we are all entitled to a bit of nostalgia! Also, to this day you hear of authors who continue to write their novels “longhand on yellow pads”. I imagine what you use to write with/on can affect your creative process. Also, as I see 1 and 2 year olds using IPads, etc. you do realize that time is marching on and perhaps it’s not the medium you use so much as having something worth saying and people to love to say it to!!


Carol Cassara May 29, 2014 at 8:38 am

I’m sorry to see cursive go. I love getting handwritten letters and notes and still think they are far superior to email or (holy crap) TEXTs. Someone said yesterday “I wonder if he’ll text me happy birthday…” and I thought, well, that would be special. NOT.


Rena McDaniel-The Diary of an Alzheimer's Caregiver May 29, 2014 at 9:14 am

I still write all of my posts on paper before I ever put them on the computer. Keeping a journal is something that I have done all of my life. I hate to see it become a forgotten art, it just seems so weird to me that there will be a whole new generation who will have no idea how to write.


KalleyC May 29, 2014 at 11:40 am

What an interesting topic that you brought up here. We’re homeschooling our children, and although they are not yet ready to learn cursive writing, I’ve been leaning heavily on learning it. Perhaps it was the old school catholic training I had in it, but there is something magical and wonderful being able to write a beautiful handwritten letter.

The way technology moves these days, a lot of skills are easily getting lost. I remember back in college, our professors did not want us using a graphing calculator because he said, if we didn’t learn the math, how would that help you? So all through the many levels of calculus, we only used a scientific one.

Horrible as it was, I do thank them for that challenge. Although now I’ve noticed I’ve gone off on a tangent–I don’t think cursive writing is the most important skill a person needs to learn, but I think it would still be nice to learn.

Again, this is coming from a person who loves writing though.


Suzanne Fluhr June 30, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Given that there are only so many hours in a day, I think it’s more important that young students be proficient in computer skills ahead of being able to write well in cursive. By the time I was in high school, being able to translate from Greek and Latin was no longer required for a well rounded education. I suspect Benjamin Franklin would have been appalled. 😉


Lori Lavender Luz December 27, 2014 at 5:14 pm

I guess if it’s no longer practical/useful, precious school time shouldn’t be spent on it. But I am sad…handwriting is a dwindling art, perhaps like quilting or breadmaking or churning butter. People can still do it and teach others to, but it’s no longer known by all.


Cheryl March 22, 2016 at 11:35 am

I followed the teaser to read this today. Funny, I finally learned grammar after taking many years of Spanish and learned to write compositions as a reporter under deadline.
I think one aspect of handwriting that should be addressed, and thus still pertinent to an education, is the muscle memory of the lines and strokes required. The confidence to create straight lines or precise loops fits well into drawing and particularly of Zentangle, habits that can serve us well in self-discovery.
We may be able to converse via computer, but to truly communicate requires expression through our hands. Long live long-hand! c


Danielle July 18, 2017 at 8:41 pm

My collection of handwritten letters that I’ve received is by far my most treasured possession! I even have some cards and letters from your lovely daughter-in-law in there. 🙂 In our school district, they have begun teaching cursive in 2nd grade (the grade my stepdaughter just completed.) She has enjoyed learning it and calls it “the fancy writing.”


Suzanne Fluhr July 19, 2017 at 2:51 pm

It’s interesting to learn that they’re still teaching cursive in some public schools. I’m a little surprised that they’re starting to teach it in second grade since it takes a good amount of fine motor skill that many children that age don’t yet possess. I think learning cursive is a little like toilet training. If you start too soon, it’s just frustrating and they don’t end up being fully trained until pretty much the same time as they are if you wait until their neurons are connected enough.


Kate Gladstone March 16, 2018 at 1:13 pm

Handwriting matters — does cursive? Research shows that legible cursive writing averages no faster than printed handwriting of equal or greater legibility. (Sources for all research are available on request.)
Further research shows that the fastest, clearest handwriters avoid cursive. They join only the most easily joined letter-combinations, leaving others unjoined, using print-like shapes for letters whose printed and cursive shapes disagree. (Many people who think that they “print” actually write in this practical way without realizing that they do so. The handwriting of many teachers comes close: even though, often, those teachers have never noticed that they are not at all writing in the same 100% print or 100% cursive that they demand that their students should write.)
Teaching material for such practical handwriting abounds — especially in much of the UK and Europe, where such practical handwriting is taught at least as often as the accident-prone cursive that too many North American educators venerate. (Again, sources are available on request.)

For what it’s worth, there are some parts of various countries (parts of the UK, for instance, despite their mostly sensible handwriting ) where governmental mandates for 100% joined cursive handwriting have been increasingly enforced, without regard for handwriting practicality and handwriting research. In those parts of the world, there are rapidly growing concerns on the increasingly observed harmful educational/literacy effects (including bad effects on handwriting quality) seen when 100% joined cursive requirements are complied with:

Reading cursive, of course, remains important —and this is much easier and quicker to master than writing cursive. Reading cursive can be mastered in just 30 to 60 minutes, even by kids who print.
Given the importance of reading cursive, why not teach it explicitly and quickly, once children can read print, instead of leaving this vital skill to depend upon learning to write in cursive?

Educated adults increasingly quit cursive. In 2012, handwriting teachers were surveyed at a conference hosted by cursive textbook publisher Zaner-Bloser.. Only 37% wrote in cursive; another 8% printed. Most — 55% — wrote with some elements resembling print-writing, others resembling cursive. When even most handwriting teachers do not follow cursive, why glorify it?

Cursive’s cheerleaders allege that cursive has benefits justifying absolutely anything said or done to promote it. Cheerleaders for cursive repeatedly allege research support — repeatedly citing studies that were misquoted or otherwise misrepresented by the claimant or by some other, earlier misrepresenter whom the claimant innocently trusts.

What about cursive and signatures? Brace yourself: in state and federal law, cursive signatures have no special legal validity over any other kind. (Hard to believe? Ask any attorney!)
Questioned document examiners (specialists in the identification of signatures, verification of documents, etc.) find that the least forgeable signatures are the plainest. Most cursive signatures are loose scrawls: the rest, if following cursive’s rules at all, are fairly complicated: easing forgery.
All handwriting, not just cursive, is individual. That is how any first-grade teacher immediately discerns (from print-writing on unsigned work) which child produced it.

Mandating cursive to save handwriting resembles mandating stovepipe hats and crinolines to save clothing.

Kate Gladstone
DIRECTOR, the World Handwriting Contest
CEO, Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works


Suzanne Fluhr March 18, 2018 at 6:02 pm

Thanks for sharing what I assume was once a blog post essay. I think the idea of teaching children to read, but not necessarily write cursive is brilliant. I’m also relieved to learn that the handwriting I have evolved, combining elements of cursive and elements of printing, is actually a good thing.


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