You can start out writing a cursive lowercase “b” by starting at the bottom of the line you are writing on and drawing the line up and to the right. As the line you are drawing approaches the top of your writing area, the capline, bend the line back to the left and then pull it downwards to create a small loop. As the downward stroke approaches the bottom of the writing line again, pull the line back up and to the right until you hit the midpoint, or the midline. At the midline, curve the line sharply to the right.
Why Learn Cursive?
The primary argument made for learning cursive is that cursive writing enables one to write quicker and faster. When one writes a sentence in print, they have to lift their writing tool many more times than in cursive because print letters are not joined together. However, because cursive letters have joins between them, one can write faster and more efficiently. The joins that people view as a characteristic of cursive may not be true of all types of cursive. Cursive has a few different subtypes: ligature cursive, italic cursive, and looped cursive. Some of the subtypes of cursive have more spaces in between the letters.
Looped cursive is the standard form of cursive that most people are aware of, and looped cursive has descenders and ascenders which have their own specific loops linking letters together. Meanwhile, ligature cursive is a type of cursive that has connections between the beginnings and ends of letters, meaning that one really has to lift their writing implement when writing and ligature cursive. In ligature cursive, some of the letters have a loop form which facilitates the joining of the letters together.
Italic cursive is contrasted with ligature cursive in that it has very few looped joints. In Italic cursive’s case, there are no joins to be found between the following letters: Y, Q, J, and G; and this makes Italic cursive distinct from looped cursive. The phrase Italic cursive comes from the fact that this form of cursive was primarily used in Renaissance Italy, and one should take note that this is different from the term Italic in type sets. Within type sets, Italic simply means that the letters are slanted.
Regarding where the term cursive comes from, the word is thought to be derived from a Latin word meaning “running “or “to run'” “corsivo”. While various cultures across history have used different connected scripts, the form of cursive used within the United States today has been around since the time of the American colonies. This is an evolution of the cursive developed in Western Europe during the 17th century. The 17th century and 18th century would see cursive become more widely adopted, eventually turning into the new standard for writing the English language. In terms of connected writing scripts in other languages, Roman forms of writing utilized a connected script as did forms of Arabic writing.
Cursive has different standardized versions, different ways to write letters and different fonts, just as print has different standards for writing. The type of cursive utilizing the United States today is the D’Nelian script, a script derived from an older method of teaching cursive referred to as the Palmer method. The Palmer method went through adaptations and transformations by the schoolteacher Donald Thurber in 1978. Thurber had the goal of facilitating the learning of both print and cursive, making the transitions between team the two friends writing easier. Thurber argued that previous methods of teaching writing made cursive difficult to learn since when children were switched from writing print to cursive there were large changes in how the letters were taught. Thurber’s goal was to make the transition more seamless by creating standards used across both writing forms. As for whether or not the D’Nelian script actually helps children transition between learning print and learning cursive, a research review conducted by Stephen Graham found inconclusive evidence that using the D’Nelian script instruction method actually made children’s writing better and the instruction of writing easier, leaving the question open.
Today, cursive is being challenged as a legitimate way to spend limited school instruction time. It is argued that the increasing proliferation of keyboards and digital methods of communication has made cursive unnecessary.
Is Cursive Still Necessary To Learn?
This isn’t the first time that the use of cursive as a form of writing has been called into question. Various technological innovations have impacted the use of cursive throughout history, including the ballpoint pen. The ballpoint pen was one of the first inventions that prompted a decline in cursive handwriting. One of the reasons for using cursive to write with was that writing with ink quills was easier when writing in cursive. When an individual was writing in cursive, they didn’t have to lift the quill and re-dip it in ink and as often. When ballpoint pens became more reliable and easier to produce, the necessity of writing in cursive dropped off since the quill experienced a decline in usage. The invention of the typewriter, keyboard, and the computer would also contribute to the decline of cursive.
While cursive wasn’t widely taught throughout the 50s and 60s in the United States, many teachers and educational analysts argue that cursive is a waste of valuable instruction time, given how much communication is done digitally. For instance, a 2007 study found that although around half of all second graders and 90% of third-graders have been instructed in cursive, only 15% of high school students at the time would write their SAT answers down in cursive. Throughout the 2000s and 2010s, states like Hawaii and Indiana have dropped mandates regarding cursive instruction from curriculums, reflecting the growing ease and accessibility of digital communication during this time. To replace the teaching of cursive, states like Hawaii and Indiana have made keyboard proficiency a priority instead.
One argument that is often made for continuing to teach cursive in schools is that many important historical documents are written in some form of cursive, and without training in cursive future historians may not be able to interpret or understand these documents in their original format. For this reason, some teachers and historians argue that school districts shouldn’t be so quick to abandon the teaching of cursive. While historians may have a use for learning cursive, what about the rest of society? Arguments against this claim of cursive’s utility state that most people in the 21st century will have very little use for learning cursive, historians notwithstanding.
Many states have dropped cursive instruction mandates from school curriculums, a trend driven by the adoption of the common core standards of education. The standards let individual states determine if teaching cursive is worth their time, and many of these states have elected to forgo teaching cursive. A report done by the Miami-Dade public school system found that cursive instruction has been on a slow but steady decline in school districts across the United States. Even other countries such as Finland have also elected to cease mandating cursive instruction in their school curriculums.
While cursive use has declined in popularity in recent years, some teachers and school boards have advocated for keeping cursive in school curriculums. The argument for maintaining cursive says that learning cursive helps students develop better handwriting in general, making their handwriting clear and legible. Beyond this, it’s argued that learning cursive make students better readers and writers, able to write faster and process the material they come into contact with more efficiently. Some studies do suggest that students who take notes by hand, compared to those who take notes on a computer, have better recall of the material and better comprehension overall.
On the other hand, it isn’t exactly clear that the act of writing in cursive is what improves material comprehension and recall. The act of simply writing the material down, moving your hand to write out words in a physical format rather than a digital format, could be responsible for the increased performance.
Critics of the arguments for keeping cursive in school curriculums state that there is little evidence that writing in cursive actually enhances one’s comprehension of the material and that the reported benefits of writing cursive could simply be the result of attributing perceived benefits from other sources to cursive, an instance of confirmation bias. It is also argued that studies which have claimed associations between writing in cursive and enhanced material recall or understanding have been either misinterpreted or misrepresented.
All this said, there seems to be some evidence that teaching cursive could help students with disabilities read and write better. Some studies have found that students who struggle with language disabilities like dyslexia seem to be helped by learning and writing in cursive.
Regardless of your opinion on whether or not teaching cursive is a valid use of school instruction time, if you wish are aiming to write in cursive you have to practice it daily until you have mastered it. You’ll need to get a list of all the cursive characters and then keep practicing the letters one by one until you can write all of them without significant errors. Ultimately there’s no substitute for practice, so keep writing both lowercase and uppercase letters until you have them all down perfectly.