Kate Gladstone 
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Re: “Grandmas, the Declaration of Independence and Cursive

Handwriting matters but does cursive matter? The research is surprising. For instance, it has been documented that legible cursive writing averages no faster than printed handwriting of equal or greater legibility. (Sources for all research are listed below.)

More recently, it has also been documented that cursive does NOT objectively improve the reading, spelling, or language of students who have dyslexia/dysgraphia.
This is what I'd expect from my own experience, by the way. As a handwriting teacher and remediator, I see numerous children, teens, and adults dyslexic and otherwise for whom cursive poses even more difficulties than print-writing. (Contrary to myth, reversals in cursive are common a frequent cursive reversal in my caseload, among dyslexics and others, is J/f.)
Other issues with cursive, for many students whose visual and/or motor talents are less than average, include the difficulty that is accidentally created by assuming that all letters can start in the baseline all the time (since this doesn't work for any letter that follows a cursive b, o, v, or w).

According to comparative studies of handwriting speed and legibility in different forms of writing, the fastest, clearest handwriters avoid cursive although they are not absolute print-writers either. The highest speed and highest legibility in handwriting are attained by those who join only some letters, not all: joining only the most easily joined letter-combinations, leaving the rest unjoined, and using print-like shapes for letters whose printed and cursive shapes disagree.
(Other problems with cursive include the fact that starting every letter on the baseline forces cursive letters to change their shape and starting point whenever they follow a cursive letter b or o or v or w.)

Reading cursive still matters but reading cursive is much easier and quicker to master than writing the same way too.

Reading cursive, simply reading it, can be taught in just 30 to 60 minutes even to five- or six-year-olds (including those with dyslexia) once they read ordinary print. (All that's required is to show them, step by step, how the letter-shapes they already know gradually became the fancier ones that they sometimes see.)

Given the importance of reading cursive, why not simply teach this vital skill once children can read print instead of leaving it to depend upon wherher a child can "pick it up" by learning to write in cursive too?

We dont require our children to learn to make their own pencils (or build their own printing presses) before we teach them how to read and write. Why require them to write cursive before we teach them how to read it? Why not simply teach children to read cursive along with teaching other vital skills, such as a form of handwriting that is actually typical of effective handwriters?
Just as each and every child deserves to be able to read all kinds of everyday handwriting (including cursive), each and every one of our children dyslexic or not deserves to learn the most effective and powerful strategies for high-speed high-legibility handwriting performance.
Teaching material for practical handwriting abounds especially in the UK and Europe, where such handwriting is taught at least as often as the accident-prone cursive which is venerated by too many North American educators. Some examples, in several cases with student work also shown: graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2009/09/08/op…, briem.net, italic-handwriting.org, studioarts.net/calligraphy/italic/hwlesson…, BFHhandwriting.com, handwritingsuccess.com, Lexercise.com, HandwritingThatWorks.com, freehandwriting.net/educational.html )

Even in the USA and Canada, educated adults increasingly quit cursive. In 2012, handwriting teachers across North America were surveyed at a conference hosted by Zaner-Bloser, a publisher of cursive textbooks. Only 37% wrote in cursive; another 8% printed. The majority 55% wrote with some elements resembling print-writing, others resembling cursive.
(If you would like to take part in another, ongoing poll of handwriting forms not hosted by a publisher, and not restricted to teachers visit http://www.poll.fm/4zac4 for the One-Question Handwriting Survey, created by this author. As with the Zaner-Bloser teacher survey, so far the results show very few purely cursive handwriters and even fewer purely printed writers. Most handwriting in the real world 75% of the response totals, so far consists of print-like letters with occasional joins.)
When even most handwriting teachers do not themselves use cursive, why glorify it?

Believe it or not, some of the adults who themselves write in an occasionally joined but otherwise print-like handwriting tell me that they are teachers who still insist that their students must write in cursive, and/or who still teach their students that all adults habitually and normally write in cursive and always will. (Given the facts on our handwriting today, this is a little like teaching kids that our current president is Richard Nixon.)

What, I wonder, are the educational and psychological effects of teaching, or trying to teach, something that the students can probably see for themselves is no longer a fact?
Cursive's cheerleaders (with whom Ive had some stormy debates) sometimes allege that cursive has benefits which justify absolutely anything said or done to promote that form of handwriting. The cheerleaders for cursive repeatedly state (sometimes in sworn testimony before school boards and state legislatures) that cursive cures dyslexia or prevents it, that it makes you pleasant and graceful and intelligent, that it adds brain cells, that it instills proper etiquette and patriotism, or that it confers numerous other blessings which are no more prevalent among cursive users than among the rest of the human race. Some claim research support citing studies that invariably prove to have been misquoted or otherwise misrepresented by the claimant.

So far, whenever a devotee of cursive claims the support of research, one or more of the following things has become evident as soon as others examined the claimed support:

/1/ either the claim provides no source (and no source is provided on request)

or, almost as often,

/2/ when sources are cited and can be checked (by finding and reading the cited document), the sources provided turn out to include and/or to reference materials which are misquoted or incorrectly represented by the person(s) offering these as support for cursive,

or, even more often,

/3/ the claimant correctly quotes/cites a source which itself indulges in either /1/ or /2/.

Cursive devotees' eagerness to misrepresent research has substantial consequences, as the misrepresentations are commonly made under oath in testimony before school districts, state legislatures, and other bodies voting on educational measures. The proposals for cursive are, without exception so far, introduced by legislators or other spokespersons whose misrepresentations (in their own testimony) are later revealed although investigative reporting of the questionable testimony does not always prevent the bill from passing into law, even when the discoveries include signs of undue influence on the legislators promoting the cursive bill? (Documentation on request: I am willing to be interviewed by anyone who is interested in bringing this serious issue inescapably before the publics eyes and ears.)
By now, youre probably wondering: What about cursive and signatures? Will we still have legally valid signatures if we stop signing our names in cursive? Brace yourself: in state and federal law, cursive signatures have no special legal validity over any other kind. (Hard to believe? Ask any attorney!)
Questioned document examiners (these are specialists in the identification of signatures, the verification of documents, etc.) inform me that the least forgeable signatures are the plainest. Most cursive signatures are loose scrawls: the rest, if they follow the rules of cursive at all, are fairly complicated: these make a forger's life easy.

All handwriting, not just cursive, is individual just as all handwriting involves fine motor skills. That is why any first-grade teacher can immediately identify (from the print-writing on unsigned work) which of 25 or 30 students produced it.

Mandating cursive to preserve handwriting resembles mandating stovepipe hats and crinolines to preserve the art of tailoring.



SOURCES:


Handwriting research on speed and legibility:

/1/ Arthur Dale Jackson. A Comparison of Speed and Legibility of Manuscript and Cursive Handwriting of Intermediate Grade Pupils.
Ed. D. Dissertation, University of Arizona, 1970: on-line at http://www.eric.ed.gov/?id=ED056015

/2/ Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, and Naomi Weintraub. The Relation between Handwriting Style and Speed and Legibility. JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH, Vol. 91, No. 5 (May - June, 1998), pp. 290-296: on-line at http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/275421…

/3/ Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, Naomi Weintraub, and William Schafer. Development of Handwriting Speed and Legibility in Grades 1-9.
JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH, Vol. 92, No. 1 (September - October, 1998), pp. 42-52: on-line at http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/275421…


Handwriting research on cursive's lack of observable benefit for students with dyslexia/dysgraphia:

"Does cursive handwriting have an impact on the reading and spelling performance of children with dyslexic dysgraphia: A quasi-experimental study." Authors: Lorene Ann Nalpon & Noel Kok Hwee Chia URL: http://www.researchgate.net/publication/23…
and
http://dyslexia.yale.edu/EDU_keyboarding.h…


Zaner-Bloser handwriting survey: Results on-line at http://www.hw21summit.com/media/zb/hw21/fi…


Ongoing handwriting poll: http://poll.fm/4zac4

The research most often misrepresented by devotees of cursive (Neural Correlates of Handwriting" by Dr. Karin Harman-James at Indiana University):
https://www.hw21summit.com/research-harman…


Background on our handwriting, past and present


/a/
2 solidly informed debunkings of the claims for cursive:


http://nautil.us/issue/40/learning/cursive…

http://mentalfloss.com/article/86963/learn…



/b/
3 videos, by a colleague, show why cursive is NOT a sacrament:

A BRIEF HISTORY OF CURSIVE
http://youtu.be/3kmJc3BCu5g

TIPS TO FIX HANDWRITING
http://youtu.be/s_F7FqCe6To

HANDWRITING AND MOTOR MEMORY
(shows how to develop fine motor skills WITHOUT cursive)
http://youtu.be/Od7PGzEHbu0


Yours for better letters,

Kate Gladstone
DIRECTOR, the World Handwriting Contest
CEO, Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works
http://www.HandwritingThatWorks.com
handwritingrepair@gmail.com

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Kate Gladstone on 03/21/2017 at 8:05 PM

Re: “Ladies and Gents, I Give You: Republican [Junk] Science. (Or, Any Port in a Bill-Passing Storm)

David W, print-writing is actually harder to forge successfully than most cursive, because the simplest handwritings are the hardest to forge successfully. An eLier message of mine noted this fact among others,

0 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Kate Gladstone on 05/25/2016 at 4:23 PM

Re: “Ladies and Gents, I Give You: Republican [Junk] Science. (Or, Any Port in a Bill-Passing Storm)

Most of the cursive used worldwide, in other countries that use our alphabet (including most of the Rnglish-speaking countries), is very different from the conventional cursive of USA classrooms — so far different that, when I show UK or European or Australian cursives to people who have just praised those parts of the world for using cursive, those same people reject these as "printing."

If poetry, creativity, or dexterity depended on cursive, the human race would never have waged long enough to invent cursive — or anything else.

2 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Kate Gladstone on 03/30/2016 at 1:20 PM

Re: “Ladies and Gents, I Give You: Republican [Junk] Science. (Or, Any Port in a Bill-Passing Storm)

If cursive is so self-evidently wonderful, why is research misquoted in its defense?

2 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Kate Gladstone on 03/30/2016 at 1:15 PM

Re: “Ladies and Gents, I Give You: Republican [Junk] Science. (Or, Any Port in a Bill-Passing Storm)

So, cursive's supporters in Arizona (as in other states where this cursive bill has been "independently" introduced) advance their cause by misquoting a researcher in their own state (Steve Graham is at ASU), and by misquoting him even under oath (in testimony to the state legislature).

Their eagerness to adopt such a weak and risky strategy certainly doesn't support their belief that cursive makes people smarter.

5 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Kate Gladstone on 03/30/2016 at 9:09 AM

Re: “Ladies and Gents, I Give You: Republican [Junk] Science. (Or, Any Port in a Bill-Passing Storm)

Ex-Arizonan asks: "How will you sign legal documents if you don't know cursive?" As any attorney will confirm, cursive in fact adds nothing to the legal validity of a signature: legally, your signature is WHATEVER you habitually produce when intending to produce your signature.

See http://tinyurl.com/LegalSig for legal material on this matter.

14 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Kate Gladstone on 03/29/2016 at 7:25 PM

Re: “Ladies and Gents, I Give You: Republican [Junk] Science. (Or, Any Port in a Bill-Passing Storm)

For the record, I oppose that bill and its junk "science" ... although (or _because_) I teach handwriting, I direct the World Handwriting Contest, and I'm a Republican (and have been one for at least 30 years).

I've asked fellow Republicans, who support the bill, why the party which claims to fight needless governmental micromanagement of everything is demanding that posterity's handwriting be governmentally micromanaged. They've no answer to the contradiction — except for the ones who whine, "Oh, but we MUST tailor the science so it'll endorse cursive, because otherwise cursive would not have a case!"

Handwriting matters — but does cursive matter? The research is surprising. For instance, it has been documented that legible cursive writing averages no faster than printed handwriting of equal or greater legibility. (Sources for all research are listed below.)

More recently, it has also been documented that cursive does NOT objectively improve the reading, spelling, or language of students who have dyslexia/dysgraphia.
This is what I'd expect from my own experience, by the way. As a handwriting teacher and remediator, I see numerous children, teens, and adults — dyslexic and otherwise — for whom cursive poses even more difficulties than print-writing. (Contrary to myth, reversals in cursive are common — a frequent cursive reversal in my caseload, among dyslexics and others, is “J/f.”)
— According to comparative studies of handwriting speed and legibility in different forms of writing, the fastest, clearest handwriters avoid cursive — although they are not absolute print-writers either. The highest speed and highest legibility in handwriting are attained by those who join only some letters, not all: joining only the most easily joined letter-combinations, leaving the rest unjoined, and using print-like shapes for letters whose printed and cursive shapes disagree.

Reading cursive still matters — but reading cursive is much easier and quicker to master than writing the same way too.

Reading cursive, simply reading it, can be taught in just 30 to 60 minutes — even to five- or six-year-olds (including those with dyslexia) once they read ordinary print.

There's even a free iPad app teaching how: called “Read Cursive” — appstore.com/readcursive
Given the importance of reading cursive, why not teach this vital skill quickly — for free — instead of leaving it to depend upon the difficult and time-consuming process of learning to write in cursive (which will cost millions to mandate)?

We don’t require our children to learn to make their own pencils (or build their own printing presses) before we teach them how to read and write. Why require them to write cursive before we teach them how to read it? Why not simply teach children to read cursive — along with teaching other vital skills, such as a form of handwriting that is actually typical of effective handwriters?
Just as each and every child deserves to be able to read all kinds of everyday handwriting (including cursive), each and every one of our children — dyslexic or not — deserves to learn the most effective and powerful strategies for high-speed high-legibility handwriting performance.
Teaching material for practical handwriting abounds — especially in the UK and Europe, where such handwriting is taught at least as often as the accident-prone cursive which is venerated by too many North American educators. Some examples, in several cases with student work also shown: http://www.BFHhandwriting.com, http://www.handwritingsuccess.com, http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2009/09/08/opinion/OPED-WRITING.1.pdf, http://www.briem.net, http://www.HandwritingThatWorks.com, http://www.italic-handwriting.org, http://www.studioarts.net/calligraphy/italic/hwlesson.html, http://www.freehandwriting.net/educational.html )

Even in the USA and Canada, educated adults increasingly quit cursive. In 2012, handwriting teachers across North America were surveyed at a conference hosted by Zaner-Bloser, a publisher of cursive textbooks. Only 37% wrote in cursive; another 8% printed. The majority — 55% — wrote with some elements resembling print-writing, others resembling cursive.
(If you would like to take part in another, ongoing poll of handwriting forms — not hosted by a publisher, and not restricted to teachers — visit http://www.poll.fm/4zac4 for the One-Question Handwriting Survey, created by this author. As with the Zaner-Bloser teacher survey, so far the results show very few purely cursive handwriters — and even fewer purely printed writers. Most handwriting in the real world — 75% of the response totals, so far — consists of print-like letters with occasional joins.)
When even most handwriting teachers do not themselves use cursive, why glorify it?

Believe it or not, some of the adults who themselves write in an occasionally joined but otherwise print-like handwriting tell me that they are teachers who still insist that their students must write in cursive, and/or who still teach their students that all adults habitually and normally write in cursive and always will. (Given the facts on our handwriting today, this is a little like teaching kids that our current president is Richard Nixon.)

What, I wonder, are the educational and psychological effects of teaching, or trying to teach, something that the students can probably see for themselves is no longer a fact?
Cursive's cheerleaders (with whom I’ve had some stormy debates) sometimes allege that cursive has benefits which justify absolutely anything said or done to promote that form of handwriting. The cheerleaders for cursive repeatedly state (sometimes in sworn testimony before school boards and state legislatures) that cursive cures dyslexia or prevents it, that it makes you pleasant and graceful and intelligent, that it adds brain cells, that it instills proper etiquette and patriotism, or that it confers numerous other blessings which are no more prevalent among cursive users than among the rest of the human race. Some claim research support — citing studies that invariably prove to have been misquoted or otherwise misrepresented by the claimant.

So far, whenever a devotee of cursive claims the support of research, one or more of the following things has become evident as soon as others examined the claimed support:

/1/ either the claim provides no source (and no source is provided on request)

or, almost as often,

/2/ when sources are cited and can be checked (by finding and reading the cited document), the sources provided turn out to include and/or to reference materials which are misquoted or incorrectly represented by the person(s) offering these as support for cursive,

or, even more often,

/3/ the claimant correctly quotes/cites a source which itself indulges in either /1/ or /2/.

Cursive devotees' eagerness to misrepresent research has substantial consequences, as the misrepresentations are commonly made — under oath — in testimony before school districts, state legislatures, and other bodies voting on educational measures. The proposals for cursive are, without exception so far, introduced by legislators or other spokespersons whose misrepresentations (in their own testimony) are later revealed — although investigative reporting of the questionable testimony does not always prevent the bill from passing into law, even when the discoveries include signs of undue influence on the legislators promoting the cursive bill? (Documentation on request: I am willing to be interviewed by anyone who is interested in bringing this serious issue inescapably before the public’s eyes and ears.)
By now, you’re probably wondering: “What about cursive and signatures? Will we still have legally valid signatures if we stop signing our names in cursive?” Brace yourself: in state and federal law, cursive signatures have no special legal validity over any other kind. (Hard to believe? Ask any attorney!)
Questioned document examiners (these are specialists in the identification of signatures, the verification of documents, etc.) inform me that the least forgeable signatures are the plainest. Most cursive signatures are loose scrawls: the rest, if they follow the rules of cursive at all, are fairly complicated: these make a forger's life easy.

All handwriting, not just cursive, is individual — just as all handwriting involves fine motor skills. That is why any first-grade teacher can immediately identify (from the print-writing on unsigned work) which of 25 or 30 students produced it.

Mandating cursive to preserve handwriting resembles mandating stovepipe hats and crinolines to preserve the art of tailoring.



SOURCES:


Handwriting research on speed and legibility:

/1/ Arthur Dale Jackson. “A Comparison of Speed and Legibility of Manuscript and Cursive Handwriting of Intermediate Grade Pupils.”
Ed. D. Dissertation, University of Arizona, 1970: on-line at http://www.eric.ed.gov/?id=ED056015

/2/ Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, and Naomi Weintraub. “The Relation between Handwriting Style and Speed and Legibility.” JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH, Vol. 91, No. 5 (May - June, 1998), pp. 290-296: on-line at http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/27542168.pdf

/3/ Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, Naomi Weintraub, and William Schafer. “Development of Handwriting Speed and Legibility in Grades 1-9.”
JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH, Vol. 92, No. 1 (September - October, 1998), pp. 42-52: on-line at http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/27542188.pdf


Handwriting research on cursive's lack of observable benefit for students with dyslexia/dysgraphia:

"Does cursive handwriting have an impact on the reading and spelling performance of children with dyslexic dysgraphia: A quasi-experimental study." Authors: Lorene Ann Nalpon & Noel Kok Hwee Chia — URL: http://www.researchgate.net/publication/234451547_Does_cursive_handwriting_have_an_impact_on_the_reading_and_spelling_performance_of_children_with_dyslexic_dysgraphia_A_quasi-experimental_study
and
http://dyslexia.yale.edu/EDU_keyboarding.html


Zaner-Bloser handwriting survey: Results on-line at http://www.hw21summit.com/media/zb/hw21/files/H2937N_post_event_stats.pdf


Ongoing handwriting poll: http://poll.fm/4zac4

The research most often misrepresented by devotees of cursive (“Neural Correlates of Handwriting" by Dr. Karin Harman-James at Indiana University):
https://www.hw21summit.com/research-harman-james


Background on our handwriting, past and present:
3 videos, by a colleague, show why cursive is NOT a sacrament:

A BRIEF HISTORY OF CURSIVE —
http://youtu.be/3kmJc3BCu5g

TIPS TO FIX HANDWRITING —
http://youtu.be/s_F7FqCe6To

HANDWRITING AND MOTOR MEMORY
(shows how to develop fine motor skills WITHOUT cursive) —
http://youtu.be/Od7PGzEHbu0


Yours for better letters,

Kate Gladstone • 518-482-6763
DIRECTOR, the World Handwriting Contest
CEO, Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works
http://www.HandwritingThatWorks.com
handwritingrepair@gmail.com
165 North Allen Street • First Floor
Albany, NY 12206-1706 • USA

23 likes, 15 dislikes
Posted by Kate Gladstone on 03/29/2016 at 3:58 PM

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