Is Technology Making Cursive Obsolete?

By Katie Ash — October 12, 2009 1 min read
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So often when we talk about technology, we are looking into the future and anticipating what might be possible. But today I wanted to bring up a story that takes a look at the past and asks what we might be losing because of technological trends and advancements. This Associated Press story discusses how penmanship is slowly becoming a lost art, getting squeezed out of the curriculum in favor of 21st-century skills.

While many educators don’t see the harm in this shift, some fear that students may be losing an important skill, says the article. For instance, historic documents written in cursive could be harder to read for students who aren’t familiar with script, says one educator in the article. And students won’t always be around a keyboard and should know how to write legibly without one, say others.

I have to say that while I agree that students should know how to write legibly without a keyboard, I wonder how important it really is for students to know cursive specifically. Perhaps it is my own bias, since I learned cursive in third grade and, beyond the instances I was required to use it, have rarely tapped into that knowledge. It seems that if a student needs to turn in a formal writing assignment, whether it be for school or a job application, it is expected that it will be typed, rather than hand-written. And I know cursive is supposed to be faster in timed writing assignments, but for those who never practice cursive (like myself), printing is much faster.

What do you think? Does penmanship still have a place in our schools, and if so, what is it? Or is it silly to spend so much time on a skill that gets little emphasis outside of school? Can you think of any other skills that are being made obsolete by technology?

Photo by Bob Bird/AP

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.