Save The Joined-Up Writing!

“I’m very well indeed, thank you!” said Lockhart exuberantly, pulling a rather battered peacock-feather quill from his pocket. “Now, how many autographs would you like? I can do joined-up writing now, you know!”

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

Dear teachers, parents, Department of Education people, and students,

Many little children aren’t going to be learning “joined-up writing” or cursive in the future. What are they going to do if they become famous (or just think they are)? They won’t really be able to autograph anything.

Cursive handwriting is being phased out in US public schools, as you can see here. Already, kids aren’t learning it anymore in my state of Indiana.


Mostly, because some people think it’s “obsolete”. We use technology for so many things that there’s not much point in learning how to use a pen or pencil well. The idea is that typing quickly is more important than writing beautifully.

I think these people kind of have a point. We do use technology for a lot of things today. I write a lot and almost all of that writing is done on the computer. If I had to handwrite my NaNovel, there’s no way I would ever get it done.

But that’s no reason to completely give up cursive writing!

The first reason to keep it is more practical but not as important to me – you’re not always going to be able to type something. You may not always have access to a computer for writing, and in some cases a computer-generated piece of writing (like a thank-you letter) isn’t really appropriate. Anyone can quickly type out a letter and then cut, copy, and paste to “personalize” each thank-you. Except they’re not really personalized. It’s like they’re being mass-manufactured with special embellishments hastily tacked on at the end. When I get a letter from one of my grandparents, I feel special because it takes longer to write cursive, plus you can’t cut, copy, and paste.

Some people might think that the second reason is silly, but it’s very important to me. Cursive is prettier than anything you can type. I know that’s not a very practical reason, but I don’t care. Why does everything in life have to be practical? If my brother ruled the world everything would be – he doesn’t really get the point of things being pretty. Why can’t we have beauty just for the sake of beauty? That’s all that beauty pageants are, and no one seems to object to those. If no one knows cursive, they’ll have to print or scribble whenever they can’t use a computer and it won’t be as pretty as cursive.

So yes, joined-up writing may not be used very often anymore. But cursive looks cool and it’s much more personal. Five emails in Times New Roman are all going to look the same, but five letters written in cursive are all going to look different. Some people say that is a good reason to not teach cursive, because it can be hard to read the writing of someone who learned a slightly different style of cursive than what you did. But those little details are what give handwriting personality. Are we going to get rid of people having different personalities now, too?

There’s a third reason. As I wrote earlier, cursive is hard. If you’ve known cursive for a while, you’re probably scoffing at this. Don’t. Most kids learn cursive at about age nine; that’s still pretty young. For me, it was mostly just a matter of remembering what all the letters looked like, but some letters really confused me. It took me a long time to be able to correctly write a cursive uppercase G – I couldn’t seem to make it look right. It looked like a cursive uppercase A with hair. I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that I love cursive uppercase Gs now; they look so elegant. They also remind me of how much work I put into mastering them. Learning how to write in cursive might be tricky, but at the end of it kids will be able to say that they learned something that was tricky, instead of giving up.

Finally, to anyone who is still going on about how typing is better than handwriting, check out this article about Steve Jobs. Why do Macs – or any computers at all, really – have such cool fonts? The late computer genius took a calligraphy class in college. Anyone who loves to mess with fonts, and I think that’s most people, should thank handwriting for the influence it had on computers.

What can we do about the disappearing joined-up writing? Learn it anyway. It may not be required in the schools, but why does something have to be required for you to do it? I’ll probably have kids and I’ll probably homeschool them, but if they end up attending a school that doesn’t teach cursive, then I’m teaching it to them anyway. And of course I will if I homeschool them.

And yes, I completely recognize the irony in writing a letter about joined-up writing using a computer.



About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
This entry was posted in Harry Potter, Homeschooling, Nevillegirl's Adventures!, Non-Neville Posts, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Save The Joined-Up Writing!

  1. hithere298 says:

    I kind of want cursive writing to go out of style. This way I’ll be able to use cursive as a secret code that no one will ever be able to crack because they are not capable of understanding the art of joined up writing. I can be like James Bond, sort of.
    Sadly, I have forgotten how to write a capital G. No matter how many times I look up the letter, I still forget later on. For some reason it reminds me of a duck.

  2. I teach 4th graders as a volunteer and they are always bugging me about why they have to learn cursive. I agree with you — I think it’s part of your identity as an adult to develop your distinctive signature! California is one of the last states in the union to continue to require cursive. I have terrible handwriting (lefty) but I still support it.

  3. Kate says:

    I used to call cursive “curly writing” when I was little. I even tried to write it by using curly-q’s to create printed letters. I am currently reviewing my cursive, but am developing my own style. If I forget how to write a letter, I just make one up.

  4. My step mother has the neatest cursive signature I have ever seen… she’s in her 70s now (wow is she relaly that old… maybe late 60s) anyway she learned in Columbia, though country she grew up in…

    My signature is horrible. I had a coworker whose signature we decided looks like some sort of sanscript…. And so, yes I think one of the few reasons to keep cursive around could be for the express purpose of letting us create our own beautiful signed names.

    However my cursive… it’s sadly not used much, though b and ds and other letter with potential loops ate more cursive than print. I used to write diary entrys in cursive, probably back when I was leraning. Now I chicken scratch.

    And now I wonder if they will be teaching my daughetr and son cursive writing… I guess that might fall to me. I could use the refresher.

  5. Brittani Layne(NevilleFan) says:

    I somewhat agree with you, and somewhat agree with it being stopped. My siblings went to private school before we homeschooled, and their print handwriting sucks because they were forced to do everything in cursive starting in first grade. Personally, my mom didn’t teach me cursive until third or fourth. So I agree that it shouldn’t be forgotten, but I do believe they need to give you some time to learn to print better before tossing stupid cursive which you don’t even use on anything important like essays and forms and stuff at your head.

  6. I’m terrible at handwriting/printing. I rather like cursive(more specifically calligraphy), and enjoy using it. It does feel more personal.
    At the same time, I think it should be considered a add-on class, or something that kids have the option to learn, but don’t have to. I think they should have to learn it for a week or something, as a sample of sort, then choose if they want to learn it more. Because some kids really don’t like it(I can sympathize with this when it comes to printing/handwriting).

  7. Pingback: Do people send letters anymore? What do you keep? | Wester Avenue in rural northern Wisconsin

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