...and you thought cursive was tough

Long ago in a land not so far away all students had to learn to print and write in cursive. Penmanship was an item on your report card, like keyboarding is today.

But penmanship in the 1960s and 70s is nothing compared to 16th century calligraphy. There were no machines on which to type and the printing press was the new technological mainstay.

The combination of text and image was 
well understood by Renaissance 
calligraphers and painters

Calligraphy was seen as a dying art, but what an art. Calligraphers and illuminists had to compete with the printing press to prove the value of their art for what it added to texts, and art is what they were striving for. If you have ever taken one of my classes, you know how important your initial presentation is, how I feel about combining text and image (esp. comics), and how important it is to present a beautiful and functional text. Getting your professor to appreciate your layout is the first step towards getting a good grade. If they look at your paper and it is just a jumbled mess, but I digress...

Beautiful illuminated texts were dying out in the Renaissance, but they weren't going easy. Scribes were still valued for everyday writings for an illiterate populace and for courts where contracts, treaties, and everyday letters were dictated and produced by hand in most cases.

But what is the value of cursive? Well, for those of you who don't know, you can take notes a lot faster in cursive than printing because you don't have to pick up your pen as often. It is something that isn't taught at every school, but something that most of your professors use to write comments (if they aren't using an editing program) directly onto your drafts.

Do you know how to read and write in cursive? Should we continue to teach cursive in school?

Calligraphers "understood the importance of not just well-crafted pictures and text but their appealing integration, a concept familiar to any designer working in today's forms of cutting-edge media — as books were four centuries ago."


  1. I learned how to write in cursive in elementary school and was told I would be forced to write in that style for the rest of my schooling, but that never happened. After elementary school none of my teachers required me to write in cursive and now that I am in college I type all of my assignment. Honestly cursive is very pretty but sometimes it is hard to read and takes longer than writing in normal print. So no, I do not think it needs to be taught to kids anymore cause nobody uses it in the adult world. I was taught and forgot how to because I was never held accountable to write in cursive once I left elementary school.

  2. The first time cursive was introduced to me was in Elementary School, around 4th and 5th grade. In 4th grade we learned to read the letters and write them for ourselves and that turned into writing sentences. In 5th grade it was required to write in cursive all the time but after Elementary School I never used it in school again until High School. It's a beautiful way of writing yet it isn't continued anymore. Yes, it can be hard to read sometimes but so can printed writing if its written sloppily. While if cursive was written sloppy, it would just look exaggerated. I think we should continue to teach kids to read and write cursive, it's been around since the beginning and we shouldn't just toss it aside because it's not used as often. There is no reason to stop using cursive.


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