Contribute your two cents to the growing thread:
A reader writes:
Is it that Polikoff and Gladstone are under the impression that teaching children to write in cursive somehow takes up too much time? Or that children are vessels into which we can only fit so much, and therefore we should not try to teach them anything “unnecessary”? Pure hogwash on both counts. Learning to write legibly and speedily by hand is, in my own humble experience, invaluable. Any endeavor that requires note-taking in any real degree, especially in real time, becomes immensely more easy and pleasurable if one writes well in cursive, and it’s much faster than “print” letters.
And think about the utilitarian logic of not teaching “unnecessary” things to children. Should we not teach them music, drawing, singing, dancing, sports or any other of the manifold pursuits that give life depth and richness but do not technically serve any real economic purpose? Preposterous.
Furthermore, writing well and attractively by hand deepens our engagement with our language, instills respect for the written word, and frankly just looks better, in my opinion. It also isn’t really very hard. Like most worthwhile things, it just takes practice. And I reject this silly sophistry that says making things beautiful, and teaching kids to do simple, humble things like writing nicely is something we don’t have the resources or time to give them. Instilling in them a deep sense of craft, and of craftsmanship, is in fact of the highest importance.
Another reader who defends cursive:
The greatest lesson I ever learned came from an idealistic young woman who spent a year in the late sixties teaching sixth grade at the American Community School in Hampstead between gigs with the Peace Corps. When asked by a fellow student why we were studying a seemingly insignificant thing, she replied, “You’re not here to learn stuff. You’re here to practice how to learn stuff, because no matter how old you get, you will always need to learn.”
Cursive, as it’s taught in schools now, was actually not intended to be for handwriting. “Looped cursive,” with its letters that look nothing like print, originally comes from letterforms inscribed by copperplate engravers. Credit for this knowledge goes to Barbara Getty and Inga Dubay, calligraphers who for years have had a side gig running handwriting improvement workshops for doctors! They also take issue with the “ball and stick” method of teaching print handwriting, as each letter often requires two or more strokes, and advocate instead for italic-style handwriting, which is much more natural (I’ve attached the best comparison I can find). As an added bonus, italic handwriting easily transitions into cursive.
Who knows if any of this will be relevant in the digital age, but apparently the difficulty of writing in cursive also assists memory.