Teacher Writes Angry Note Telling 7-Year-Old to Stop Using Cursive, but Is Cursive Even Useful Anymore?

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Share this everywhere… Alyssa is 7!!! Not only is her mother a military veteran but, she took the time to teach her…

Posted by Brenda Hatcher on Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Internet is vehemently divided this week on the case of a 7-year-old who got in trouble in class this week for writing her name in cursive. It is unclear why the teacher did not want the girl writing in cursive, but the little girl’s teacher had reportedly told her on multiple occasions to stop using cursive and just print her name, but she kept doing it anyway. In the most recent installment of their elementary-school standoff, the teacher wrote in red ink: “Stop writing your name in cursive. You have had several warnings.” The tone might sound a bit huffy for a teacher to take with a child, but now the Internet has split into two camps to argue the important question: Is cursive even relevant anymore?

According to Megan Zander at SheKnows, the 7-year-old named Alyssa received the note this week on a test. For some reason, Brenda Hatcher decided to share it on Facebook and ask her friends to make it go viral, because apparently the teacher’s cranky scolding is an indictment of all society.

“Share this everywhere,” Brenda demanded. “Alyssa is 7!!! Not only is her mother a military veteran but, she took the time to teach her very young child how to write in cursive… This is her teacher’s response… What is wrong with today’s school system/society??? #cursive

The commenters on Brenda’s post were for the most part indignant and many accused the teacher of not being able to read cursive. Others said that it wasn’t about the cursive, it was about following directions, and that no 7-year-old should have to be told by a teacher to print her name multiple times before she did so. Many asserted that they would absolutely be making sure their kids knew how to read cursive, which seems like a bit of a red herring, because nobody told Alyssa she couldn’t know how to write in cursive, just that she shouldn’t write her name that way on school papers.

There are many different angles to this story, and honestly most of them seem shrug-worthy at best. The kid is using cursive. That is cool, especially for a 7-year-old. The teacher is telling the kid to stop using cursive. I don’t quite understand that, but if the teacher has told her to stop on multiple occasions, Alyssa should probably listen to the teacher and stop. And in spite of what some of the pro-cursive contingent would have us believe, Alyssa is not some 7-year-old hero standing up for True Americans in the face of encroaching Idiocracy just because she keeps writing “Alyssa” in cursive. Also, I legitimately have no idea what the fact that Alyssa’s mother is a veteran has to do with anything.

I am sure Alyssa and her teacher can solve this themselves, without the Internet’s enraged help. (Brenda’s Facebook post has been shared more than 440,000 times, and there are currently more than 550 comments on the article over on SheKnows.) But I do find myself thinking about the topic and wondering if cursive is actually an essential skill anymore. Aside from your own signature, do you read cursive very often? I think the only time I have seen cursive in the past 10 years is when sending or receiving thank-you notes. I haven’t actually read cursive in an academic or professional context for some time now. Could cursive become an outdated skill like shorthand?

I learned cursive on my own when I was about Alyssa’s age. I did it basically as a smart kid parlor trick, because my school was teaching some other sort of nouveau cursive instead of what they called “commercial cursive,” which is what we all think of as cursive. I learned that way because I thought it was fancier. I did use it through most of my academic career, even though my handwriting is terrible. It is so bad even I cannot really read it. My senior year of college, the school put Wi-Fi all over campus and I started taking my laptop to class, and that was fantastic. I type quickly enough that I could transcribe an entire lecture–professor jokes and all–if I felt like it. It was much more effective than trying to go through and figure out WTF my notes said later.

That’s not to say that cursive is an entirely useless skill, because you can have my elegantly lettered thank-you notes when you pry my copy of Debrett’s from my cold, dead hands. I love cursive and think it is pretty, but how much of a disadvantage would a child be at if he or she never learned more cursive than was necessary for a signature? When is the last time you used cursive in an academic or professional setting?