Who writes in cursive anymore?

I’m not even sure that students in the US learn how to write cursive nowadays. I certainly remember learning cursive in elementary school, solely because my handwriting is abysmal. For skills like handwriting we didn’t get regular American grades, we got evaluations like O for outstanding, S for satisfactory, and N for needs improvement. I don’t think my handwriting evaluation was ever above an N. One thing I did do though was practice my handwriting in hopes of making it prettier and more legible. This was not successful, obviously, but it means that I remember very well how to write in cursive. So when I started working in an elementary school in Spain, it didn’t surprise me that all the teachers wrote on the board in cursive, and all the students learned to write cursive. But like many things in Spain, it isn’t the big differences that make me feel a bit despistada, it is the small things.


It started with the word bike. “Teacher,” one student asked me back in October, waving his hand around in the air like crazy, “eso que es????” This is a phrase I hear roughly one squintillion times a day, and it means “What’s that?” So I turned around from the chalkboard and asked him, “A qué refieres?” “That word, Teacher, what does that say? I can’t read it.” Now, I had clearly written the phrase “ride a bike”, so I couldn’t figure out what the kid’s problem was, as we had literally just finished going over the vocabulary words. But when I read out what I had written, the problem became immediately clear when the student’s response was “. . . that’s a k????”

Clearly the letter K.







I started paying closer attention to the “cursive” the kids were using at school. It absolutely never occurred to me that cursive could be different from country to country. So far I have discovered that Spanish cursive is easier to read and more like print, which is probably why kids start learning to write in it in 1st grade. However, it is much less elegant, at least when I write it.


There are also other strange differences. The lowercase Ps and Ss don’t close all the way. My students seem to have a hard time understanding my lowercase Bs, and I think it’s because I don’t put that little loop on the end. The lowercase Fs drive me nuts because the bottom loop is on the right side, not the left, so you are supposed to write the letter like a figure eight. I spent many a worksheet trying to avoid just that in elementary school, because in my style of cursive that is wrong. Also, you never seem to join the lowercase O to anything else, and I always do, which has caused problems before as well.












I find I have the most problems with uppercase letters because they look the least like print letters. I have modified some of my uppercase cursive letters to make them simpler, such as T and F, and others I simply don’t use anymore. I? Nope, no one can read that one. Q? Ni hablar. I feel really weird just writing a big block S, for example, but I really got tired of my students complaining that they couldn’t read my writing. Reminded me too much of elementary school I guess.


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