Under the Dome

Morning Roundup: Blueprint, cursive, DMV -- oh my!

It's Blueprint North Carolina's turn to be in the spotlight at least another day, as the head of the nonprofit group now says it didn't distribute the controversial strategy memo that offered options to discredit GOP leaders. He suggests political dirty tricks are at play.

A "Back to Basics" bill in the House would require students be taught cursive writing. (Holding an instrument called a pen or a pencil in your fingers and making looping figures on paper to form words and sentences -- before there were keyboards.)

DMV offices in Raleigh and two other cities will be open later on weeknights and on Saturday mornings, DOT Secretary Tony Tata announced. Ultimately, the expanded hours will be statewide.


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Handwriting matters ... But does cursive?

Handwriting matters ... But does cursive matter?
Research shows: the fastest and most legible handwriters join only some letters, not all of them: making the easiest joins, skipping the rest, and using print-like shapes for those letters whose cursive and printed shapes disagree. (Citations appear below.)

Often, cursive programs and teachers strongly discourage such practices. Students learning cursive are taught to join all letters, and to use different shapes for cursive versus printed letters. (These requirements do not align with the research findings above.)

When following the rules doesn't work as well as breaking them, it’s time to re-write and upgrade the rules. The discontinuance of cursive offers a great opportunity to teach some better-functioning form of handwriting that is actually closer to what the fastest, clearest handwriters do anyway. (There are indeed textbooks and curricula teaching handwriting this way. Cursive and printing are not the only choices.)

Reading cursive still matters — this takes just 30 to 60 minutes to learn, and can be taught to a five- or six-year-old if the child knows how to read. The value of reading cursive is therefore no justification for writing it.

(In other words, we could simply teach kids to _read_ old-fashioned handwriting and save the year-and-a-half that are expected to be enough for teaching them to _write_ that way too ... not to mention the actually longer time it takes to teach someone to perform such writing _well_.)

Remember, too: whatever your elementary school teacher may have been told by her elementary school teacher, cursive signatures have no special legal validity over signatures written in any other way. (Don't take my word for this: talk to any attorney.)


/1/ Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, and Naomi Weintraub.
1998: on-line at


/2/ Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, Naomi Weintraub, and William Schafer.
1998: on-line at

(NOTE: there are actually handwriting programs that teach this way.
Shouldn't there be more of them?)

Yours for better letters,

Kate Gladstone
Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works
and the World Handwriting Contest

To Gunshy

Nope I don't hate the educated - I dislike (very much) seeing young students spend 4 years in college and graduate not any smarter than when they went in and I most definately don't have any feelings of inadequacy - in fact it's quite the opposite. Training them doesn't get my goat - just my patience. I actually USED to enjoy training the graduates. because they were so fresh and really bright but now ..... The only thing you got right in your post, and used correctly, was the "snot-nosed" comment.

To rellac

You must hate the educated. Do they make you feel small and inadequate? Having to train those snot-nosed little ingrates must really get your goat.

HaHa - Cursive

I agree cursive should be taught but little good it will do any of us. Universities and colleges are pumping out nothing better than little pupits and calling them college graduates. I know because I get some of them for training and the only thing I see that they can do well is look at people with a blank stare, completely ignore what they're told, use their cell phones and iPads. They can't seem to think or see anything beyond the moment they're living in much less plan ahead an hour or heaven forbid a year. They're great at telling you and the rest of the world how smart they are but the truth of the matter is they're so NOT smart they don't even know how not smart they are. It not only saddens me it scares me.

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