Handwriting matters: Does cursive matter?
Research shows that legible cursive averages no faster than printed handwriting of equal/greater legibility.
Highest speed and legibility in handwriting belong to those who join the most easily joined letter-combinations, leaving the rest unjoined, with print-like shapes for letters whose printed and cursive shapes disagree.
Simply reading cursive can be taught in 30 to 60 minutes — even to 5- or 6-year-olds, once they read print.
Educated adults quit cursive.
In 2012, handwriting teachers were surveyed at a conference hosted by Zaner-Bloser, a cursive publisher.
Only 37 percent wrote cursive; another 8 percent printed.
Most (55 percent) wrote with some elements resembling print-writing, others resembling cursive.
When most handwriting teachers don’t use cursive, why mandate it?
Cursive’s cheerleaders allege (sometimes in sworn testimony before legislatures) that cursive cures/prevents dyslexia, or makes you pleasant/graceful/intelligent or adds brain cells, or teaches etiquette and patriotism, or confers numerous other blessings which are no more prevalent among cursive users than among the rest of us.
Claiming research support, they cite studies that invariably prove to have been misquoted/otherwise misrepresented by the claimant.
What about signatures?
Brace yourself: cursive signatures have no special legal validity over other kinds.
(Ask a lawyer!)
Questioned document examiners find the least forgeable signatures are the plainest.
Most cursive signatures are loose scrawls: the rest are fairly complicated: making a forger’s life easy.
All handwriting, not just cursive, is individual: just as all handwriting involves fine motor skills.
That’s how schoolteachers immediately identify (from print-writing on unsigned work) which of 25 or 30 first-graders was responsible.
Mandating cursive to save handwriting resembles mandating stovepipe hats and crinolines to preserve the art of tailoring.
The writer is director of World Handwriting Contest and chief executive officer of HandwritingThatWorks.com.