Why Cursive Doesn’t Work

Advocates of the cursive that joins all lowercase letters within words say it helps fine motor skills. That’s not what I see in recent media images of children practicing their cursive, some even winners of handwriting contests! Students are hunched over with tense, dysfunctional pencil holds. Dysfunctional posture does not work for any skill that needs fluency, not for piano playing, not for carpentry, not for soccer, not for handwriting.

Something’s missing! Early in the 20th century and before, American children were taught whole arm movement. They sat upright, moved their arms from the joint where arm meets shoulder. To be specific, it is the glenohumeral joint that is between the humerus (large bone of arm) and the glenoid fossa of the scapula (shoulder blade). Their hands and fingers were stationary, with only the tips, the distal phalanges of their ring and little fingers touching the desk or paper.

Try it. The posture allows one to easily join letters from the left side of a page until one runs out of paper. it’s easiest when standing at a whiteboard. To my knowledge this posture is no longer taught.

Now, we write with movement that is in our fingers and hands, with the ulnar side of the hand riding along on the writing surface. This makes joining every lowercase letter in words difficult. The result is the contorted postures we see in those images where writing is slow and fluency is lost.

Solution! Use the italic method for basic and cursive. Letter formations fit natural hand/finger movement. Good fine motor skills can develop for legibility at age-appropriate speed.

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