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DID YOU KNOW? | Cursive: Shouldn’t we preserve this written art form of communication?

By Tara Yilmaz

→ Did you know cursive is defined as any style of penmanship in which characters are written joined in a flowing manner, generally for the purpose of making writing faster, in contrast to block letters? Throughout civilizations, cursive writing served a purpose for humans to record their achievements, artworks, and tell stories for future generations. As human language evolved so did cursive writing to reflect the growth of the alphabet. Although, cursive writing was developed to sustain written histories throughout generations. In the 21st century with the advancement of technology, the gatekeeper of penmanship has become a lost art.

→ Did you know the Greeks and Romans were credited with being amongst the first population to use cursive writing in contracts, letters and educational lessons? But, during the middle ages Europeans sought inspiration from the Arab world which uses a more elaborate form of cursive. Unlike English and Latin script, Arabic is written and read from right to left in a cursive style. Similarly, the letters are also joined together and flowing to make writing faster, too. For the further distinction between the Greek, Roman and Arab cursive, the Arabic alphabet does not use upper or lowercase letters as in the Latin alphabet.

For a reference guide, other languages that use cursive from right to left are Aramaic, Azeri, Dhivehi/Maldivian, Hebrew, Farsi, Urdu, contrast to languages of Europe, North and South America, India, and Southeast Asia are written left to right.

→ Did you know the instruments used to write in cursive were quills? Made from a feather from a large bird. According to Dartmouth University, the feather should be about 12 inches in length.

The feather is cut down to 8 or 9 inches from the top because the ending of the feather tended to be a nuisance. The shaft or base of the feather is then stripped of the filament left from the extraction from the bird. Whether cursive is written in quill or pen, it’s an art form that is beneficial to the mind.

→ Did you know there’s no statewide requirement in Pennsylvania to teach cursive writing? In the article “Should Cursive Handwriting be Taught in Public Schools” written by Paul Muschick for the Morning Call newspaper he states that in 2010 cursive writing instruction was dropped from national Common Core standards essentially leaving it up to states to decide whether to teach it.

→ Did you know the National Educational Association lists three advantages in its 2022 article “The Great Cursive Writing Debate?” First, cursive trains the brain to learn functional specialization. Second, it improves memory.

Third, it improves fine motor skills, meaning that students who have illegible print, often have legible cursive handwriting. Among advocates, some naysayers are claiming cursive shouldn’t be part of the curriculum. Because for people who consider themselves “team keyboards” cursive is less important in an increasingly digital world.

Parents are entitled to agree or disagree if cursive writing should be a part of their children’s curriculum. I just know personally, it would be nice if my teenagers understood my cursive writing when I’m writing the menu for Thanksgiving dinner.

In my opinion, cursive writing shouldn’t be added to the ever-growing list of lost art forms such as reading maps, understanding Roman Numerals, the Dewey decimal system, and dialing a phone number on a rotary phone.

Shouldn’t we preserve this written art form of communication?



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