...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.

  3. I learned how to write in cursive in third and fourth grade. I was very bad at cursive writing and never used it outside of my elementary school classes. In high school I started writing in cursive because I thought my block handwriting was really ugly. Now I basically only write in cursive, unless I need to make sure a lot of people can read what I wrote. I've noticed that I can write so much faster in cursive so I take all of my notes that way. I think cursive writing is something we should continue teaching. I think it could help students write quicker in the long run. It also could be valuable for the future when they need their signature on different things.
    Samantha Wadsworth

  4. I learned to write in cursive in elementary school as well. At the end of the article there is a question asked. Preferably the second one; should we continue to teach cursive in school? My answer to this is yes. I think it's important. I think things as simple as signing your name on a piece of paper is very important, and maybe even being able to hand write a letter in cursive.(Even though people don't so that anymore.) For example, my little sister is 13 years old and she doesn't even know how to sign her own name in cursive on a piece of paper. -Alyssa German

  5. Calligraphy is an art form and frankly is would see more benefit to offering a calligraphy or penmanship elective in schools then to teach cursive. In the modern age of type cursive is even less useful to know. Since in the modern age we hand write so little should't we be optimizing for speed and clarity? Cursive is a formal way of writing, but anything written formally now a days would be typed. I have always had pretty poor handwriting and in the sixth grade I had a teacher that required all cursive for all work. The transition to cursive that year and from cursive the next year crippled my handwriting to an illegible mess. To this day my natural handwriting is still 20% cursive as a remnant of a teacher with the best intentions of not letting this relic of the past die.

  6. Casandra Ralleta

    I began learning cursive in second grade and have used it since. Once we learned how to read and write cursive we moved on to being allowed to use pens and were forced to write a majority of our school work in cursive. I believe it's important to know both print and cursive regardless of newer technology slowly making it obsolete. If teachers are grading by hand students will need to be able to understand and apply the corrections. Learning to write also aids in mechanical skills. Being able to write in both print and cursive leads to developing your own style of writing and this chance shouldn't be snatched from newer generations.

  7. Calligraphy is a rare form of art that maybe most people can create. Although cursive today is manly used for signing your name on checks or documents, I think that writing in cursive would maybe help a person with their overall penmanship. The time where I learned how to write in cursive was maybe the first or second grade and I have never used it since. While it was considered an important for academics, I was only taught how to write my name and a few words once before switching back to standard writing.

    Katherine M. Wenceslao Soto

  8. I learned how to write in cursive when I was in elementary school (a good 10 years ago), but since I never use it in my current daily life, the art has been lost on me. Ever since getting into journaling, however, I've been wanting to relearn it. I think nowadays, the only reason young people use cursive or calligraphy is to make their writing look prettier and more aesthetically pleasing. Since so much of our writing is done through technology now, it seems like cursive has become an old art form.

    -Lindsey Halfen


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