I actually first started seriously thinking about the demise of cursive writing when my son Ben, now 24, was in middle school. He, like so many of us, learned cursive writing beginning in the 3rd grade. That used to be common practice, at least where I have resided. By 4th grade, all schoolwork handed in was required to be written in cursive.
My classroom was on the same hallway as grades 4-6 classrooms in the school building where I spent my last dozen or so years teaching. In the early years in the building, student papers on display in the hallway (stories, essays, etc) were always in cursive, but by the time of my retirement this past June, I never saw any cursive work in the hall at all, with the exception of a few kids: these were kids who were new to our school districts; transfers from other school districts, places far away. If you asked the teachers, they would say that they used to spend classroom time practicing cursive, but didn't any more. They had too much other stuff to do. And now, with the adoption of the Common Core, keyboarding is critical but it appears cursive writing has gone out the window.
So I started wondering about how the ramifications of this loss. A quick internet search made me realize that I was not the only person with concerns about the demise of cursive writing. Here's a handful of articles that I found, with information that backs up my own personal hypotheses. Pick a couple and take the time to read. I truly believe that cursive writing is one of those rare activities that forces our brain hemispheres to work in collaboration with each other, and that the loss of this skill is more than just an 'oh well' concern. What we do about it; I don't know.
Brain Development Could Suffer as Cursive Writing Fades
Cursive Writing at Risk in US Schools
Left and Right Brain Hemispheres
What Learning Cursive Does for Your Brain
Top Ten Reasons to Learn Cursive
Learning Cursive Boosts Brain Development
Then, of course, besides the impact on the brain, is the fact that people who don't learn to write cursive, also don't know how to read it! Imagine looking through wonderful old historical documents, and not knowing what they say! I have letters written to me by my beloved (deceased) father during my college years, and letters from friends and family that I received at Girl Scout camp, recipes in my (deceased) mom's handwriting, letters and love notes from boyfriends, and so much more handwritten documentation that is really precious to me. I can't imagine not being able to read them, and I'm glad they were not all just emails that disappeared during a computer crash or were deleted during a file cleaning.
My brother and I have off and on over recent years been involved in some genealogical research, in particular relating to my sculptor/artist grandfather Harry Levine, who I told you about here and and here and here back in 2011, as we searched for a missing totem pole he had carved in Croton-on-Hudson in NY state. (An aside here; just two days ago my brother called me in excitement; someone thought they had finally found the totem pole, in Tarrytown NY. I quickly emailed a photo of it, but unfortunately it was yet again a dead end. So the search goes on.) My husband also has done extensive genealogical research on his own family. Imagine not being able to read these documents belonging to my grandfather.
Now I don't really expect you to be able to read the documents below, even if you still can read cursive, because, of course, they are not in English. But still, cursive writing is a key to being able to translate this passport (at least that's what we think it is) below, which was for my grandmother, her mother, and two siblings when they were en route to (eventually), we believe, the US having left their home in Vilna (then, Russia).
The postcards below are just a few from a large collection given to me by Grandma when I was young, written in a mix of Russian and Yiddish, and it has been a challenge finding anyone to translate them, but they represent important keys to my family history.