Cursive is Much More Than Pen & Paper


6/15/202418 min read

fountain pen on black lined paper
fountain pen on black lined paper

by Ms. Mozelle Martin

I must admit my utter shock when I found out that as least 46 of the U.S. states have stopped teaching cursive in elementary grades. Kudos to Alaska, Minnesota, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia for not doing it… yet. Even more kudos can be sent to California and Massachusetts for re-including cursive instruction even after adapting the Core Standards model which does not advocate for handwriting curriculum. Could it be that these states realize that handwriting or cursive is much more than just pen and paper?

As a parent and teacher, it seems that we are short-cutting the education we give to our children. If we take cursive out of education because of keyboards, we may as well take math out of education because of calculators. In fact, why don’t we just throw away the dictionary while we’re at it and we can just use leetspeak, txtese, chatspeak, textspeak, or txt-talk in place of properly spelled words or grammar of any kind. It seems talking will be next… I mean, why talk when we can type and text? I guess, in many, we already have. Next time you go to a busy restaurant, take a moment to observe how many people are sitting at the table together and how many are silent because they are focused on their phones. There are just a few examples of why so many news gurus have written or talked about the “dumbing down of America”. Of course, you don’t have to believe me because you get the whole inside scoop from Charlotte Iserbyt herself.

Charlotte served as the Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI) for the U.S. Department of Education during the first Reagan Administration. She is the consummate whistleblower because she revealed the truth about a major technology initiative that would control curriculum in America's classrooms. Want details? Obtain a copy of her free ebook at

Personally, even though I have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, I have never had a problem with letter forms or any other type of handwriting in general. In fact I did work at a local high school a couple years ago as a Behavioral Specialist. This job served as my practicum and was based in the Special Education Department. When working with the Occupational Therapist, one thing that always held true is that cursive writing helps many children and teens with Special Needs. For example, with that of the commonly diagnosed Dyslexia, cursive writing makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to reverse the proverbial “b” and “d”. However, more than that, cursive writing also helps with Dysgraphia, Dysnomia, Dyscalculia, and more.

You do not have to be considered “Special Needs” in order to receive benefits from cursive writing.

Some of the letter shapes from the old school alphabets that hung so sternly on the classroom walls in elementary school can be uncomfortable for many to practice. However the purpose of those stern alphabets is to provide the student (your child or grandchild) a foundational skill that will eventually give way to their own style. You see, personality traits are not locked into handwriting until the age of 13. That is why, around 7th or 8th grade, youth start making their own strokes of which circle, heart and flower i-dots top the list. This is when their personalities really start undergoing some changes – not only psychologically but also physiologically.

The act of handwriting falls into the kinesthetic category.

This means that, because we touch the pen and paper separately, then feel the pressure of pen in hand, pen on paper, and the formation of letters, we are experiencing learning in a kinesthetic or tactile way. Neuropsychologists have said that, of all the senses, touch is the most important to learn. That is why my chain of holistic mental health clinics ( offer skill building for those who work with young children. In these workshops, we provide them with sensory ideas such as finger- and foot-writing (which are done without an actual writing instrument), finger-painting in shaving cream, and many others. By doing these exercises, the brain acquires an “imprint” to help the child learn and retain the letter shapes. In doing so, children become better readers.

For visual learners handwriting is also very important because keys on a keyboard all look the same – heaven forbid the letters wear off and they appear as solid black. While most avid typists have memorized the keys, most kids have not. This is yet another reason why handwriting proves to be critical even in this “electronic age”.

Cursive for better grades in elementary, high school, and college.

There are studies upon studies proving that students who take notes achieve better grades due to the imprint of the letters and words that the brain acquires… at least long enough to pass the test. Taking notes combines the audio learning style with the kinesthetic one and gently forces the student to pay attention and focus instead of passing notes, socializing, sending facial messages across the room, or sneak-texting in class.

Many colleges and universities offer a ‘study habits’ class which strongly advocates for rewriting their notes after the lecture and then highlighting or rephrasing as needed. Interestingly enough, all through my 13 years of college, I never purchased a textbook and never rewrote or studied my notes. Once I wrote them down in class the first time, I retained the information.

For most college students however, rewriting notes requires one to correlate the word (what) with the where, how, and when. Together these utilize several learning style forms and, while handwriting everything does take more time than typing, going that extra mile and giving a bit more time to your future can really enhance the overall learning and academic achievements.

As a multi-published author, handwriting gets me through my stumbling blocks.

At the time of this article, I have written 17 published books on the topic of handwriting. While I have been studying handwriting since age 11, and have owned both of my international handwriting-based businesses since 1987, I still have bouts of writer’s block. When this occurs, instead of becoming frustrated, I just take out a blank sheet of paper and brainstorm. I write and allow whatever random thoughts come out of my head to land on the paper. If I have a new event scheduled and feel my anxiety will increase, I calm myself down by one of two ways. Either I pull out one of the “Calming Cards” from my Written Journey card deck or just hold a pen in my hand. However, sometimes I will find myself clicker-happy and nobody appreciates that.

Cursive handwriting is, and isn’t, an art.

Calligraphy is a form of handwriting that is more artful. One thing that has always irked me about learning cursive in elementary schools is that they focus way too much on neatness. The problem with this is that the majority of teens and adults do not have that “perfect” letter formation.

The more messy your handwriting the more psychologically stable you are.

What teacher’s really need to concern themselves with is the very simple formation of each letter and then allow the child to improvise and s/he feels inclined to do. However, I realize when we are talking about standards and grading they need to be the same across the board. What’s the bottom line? It is very important for one’s psychological health that their own handwriting style – whether cursive, print, or a mix of the two – be formed by them alone and without parents, teachers, friends, or spouses forcing them to change it.

Several months ago I read an article online but cannot recall the name of the author. However the author stated that the “loss of cursive writing skills in future generations of Americans will be a great handicap” and I could not agree more. Stepping outside of my professional career as a forensic handwriting expert, I’m going to step into the role of a parent again. If my children, now grown, were still in school today, I would insist on handwriting instruction in just as strong a dose as that of math and science. Why? Because it would help guarantee that my child’s psychological, academic, and social skills are as strong and well-versed as possible. Besides, the skill and knowledge of both reading and writing cursive is a lifelong needed skill unlike that of science!

However, as I now step into my role as the first person in international history, since the year 1868, to develop a combined handwriting and therapy program for ages 7 - 99, I get very upset that the federal government here in the USA is in favor of the curriculum that throws handwriting out the window. Who wrote this curriculum anyway? Nothing but the so-called educational experts and bureaucrats who believe handwriting is of no value. In fact, many of these same people believe that grammar should not be taught in schools either because it too is also a waste of time.

Many people say they feel cursive writing slows them down so they print. However, if truth and scientific evidence be known, the opposite is true. Cursive is a much faster form of handwritten communication than printing because of the connections between letters. It is also a known fact that, should computer gurus and avid, exclusive typists be forced to handwrite, their speed will be highly affected due to the lack of finger and hand use needed to write efficiently… it’s similar to muscular atrophy or the “use it or lose it” mindset.

I read many online articles from educators stating that, when they initially switched to all digital textbooks for students, they thought this would be a more efficient way. However, as they quickly found out, if the network goes offline or there is a network glitch in any way, the entire classroom can completely shut down. How efficient is that? With fewer budgets for staff members, tech support departments are not all fully staffed so this adds to the ineffectiveness of a classroom-on-hold.

Handwriting and business

How many times have you had to fill out a paper job application? Many times the handwriting on this application can provide the personnel office with a quick overview of you as a person. More and more companies are having handwriting experts, such as myself, screen potential employees. To do this, most companies will have the applicant write on unlined paper something like “list 3 qualities you can offer us as an employee” or “In your own words, tell us why you would like to work for us”. Even with computerized personality tests, none of them are as accurate as that of handwriting analysis. In fact, results of studies between Myers-Briggs and handwriting analysis both showed the same results but handwriting analysis provided more intricate details.

In addition, not only job searching, but how about doctors’ offices or hospital paperwork? What about voter’s registrations, driver’s license forms, and other legal documents? Most of these require handwritten answers.

Handwriting and the brain.

The earlier that cursive writing is introduced to your child, the better. Since it is basically impossible to write backwards in the cursive script, cursive trains the eyes and brain to move in a left-to-right direction. This makes children learn to read faster while maintaining accuracy. In addition, studies have shown that teaching a young child cursive while adding pleasant noises, colors, and more to engage the rest of their senses, they do much better academically. Because every person learns differently such as kinesthetic, verbal, audio, etc. combining sensory additions with writing provides the greatest learning opportunity.

Many neurological studies have shown the over-abundance verifying the relationship of handwriting to that of visual recognition and the learning of letters. This is something that educators really do need to pay attention to! The proof is simply that those who learn to handwrite retain more information and therefore achieve better grades.

To prove this, there was a two-group experiment in which both groups learned a foreign alphabet. One learned with handwriting and the others learned on a keyboard. After several weeks without practicing or seeing this foreign alphabet, those that learned by handwriting scored significantly better on recognition tests. In addition, the brain scans of this group showed more brain activity. In fact, handwriting uses more of the brain than anything else, second only to language. That is why in the handwriting group, the scan showed the most usage and strength in the part of the brain that is responsible for language comprehension, motor-related processes and speech-associated gestures. Notice that these are all portions of what make up the Special Needs category in educational settings. Hmmm… why don’t schools use handwriting in their Special Education Departments? Oh yes – the proverbial “dumbing down” mission!

I remember when I received my first typewriter. It was electric, a Smith Corona, and I was ecstatic. I heard the buzz then that ‘nobody will write anymore’ yet handwriting prevailed. There are several supporters of keeping cursive or handwriting alive. In fact they consider it a “societal responsibility” to do so. If children are not taught handwriting in schools, their brains will not be as strong or as expansive as their ancestors who did learn. This has all been scientifically proven in many studies including neuropsychology and neuroplasticity.

No true regard for mental health, criminal behavior, or academic achievement

I guess overall, it should be no surprise. After all, schools do not take art, music, or physical education classes very seriously either despite the creativity, coordination and relaxation that it can provide to one’s mental health. In art, when a relaxed hand and forearm work together, they create an artistic, fluid, and very personal item. Handwriting is no different. Developmentally handwriting also provides a sense of accomplishment and pride. Just look at the picture the pen and paper next to that of a keyboard below… which looks more personal? Do you achieve the same amount of benefits playing tennis or racquetball in an actual court or with the Wii or Xbox?

A lot has been written or commented upon regarding our youth not being able to read old historical documents such as the Declaration of Independence. Honestly, who cares! They cannot read today’s documents! It truly makes me wonder why society would even consider giving up cursive because it truly is as unique as one’s fingerprints. In fact, many crimes have been solved (and victim’s provided closure) because of handwriting. Additionally, I know of many people whose parents or loved ones have passed on and left behind handwritten cards, notes and letters. By reading cursive, it allows the remaining family members to find comfort in the re-reading of these. If I left behind a handwritten letter that I may have spent many long hours putting together for my children before I passed, I would feel horrible to know my children could not read it… and they would feel foolish, I’m sure, for the same reason… and they should!

Let’s not forget that, while the giving up of cursive in the classroom is a political move, the now-in-charge bureaucrats will be retiring and our “dumbed down” now-youngsters will be running the country when they are elderly. These same then-elderly bureaucrats will need services and want empathetic concern when then “dumbed down” politicians are passing new laws that affect them. However, they will not see the compassion of our original Founding Fathers because they took away cursive and, by then, it will be too late.

Technological advancements cause a social freeze

Certainly I cannot be the only person who has noticed that the more high-tech we become, the more cold, sterile, and isolated our society becomes too. I’ve met many “techies” who have a nearly non-existent personality and slim-to-none social skills. In an essence, we are losing the best part of being human, namely our uniqueness and freedom to express ourselves to one another. As a handwriting analyst, I have not received a handwritten piece of mail for over 20 years. But, for those of you who are non-analysts, how often do you receive one? Even something personal like birthday, get well, sympathy, holiday, and anniversary cards are based on the “click here” phrase. These are all very personal occasions and yet we cannot seem to take a few extra minutes to do something special like handwrite a card! Hell, we probably don’t even know our friends’ or family members mailing addresses!

However, along with technology and the lack of respect for handwriting, our grammar, spelling and overall language skills are in the dump too. Today’s youth not only cannot write or read cursive, they cannot spell, do not know the difference between “there” or “their” and simple sentences went to choppy texting and bizarre abbreviations. Bottom line is that we should set up our youth to become productive members of society. By productive I mean able to write appropriately and read as well. These two very powerful things can mean the difference between a house and homeless shelter, a career versus a job, and even forever-single and a healthy relationship.

How many times have you given, or received, a typed phone message or yellow sticky note? Or typed out your grocery list? How many times have you driven by a billboard or saw a store that you wanted to remember while sitting in traffic ? Did you then get your laptop out and fire it up so you can email the details to yourself or did you grab the nearest pen and scribble the phone number or store name on the closest piece of paper? Cursive lets you write notes quickly, reduces letter direction confusion in children and should be considered a Zen activity for those who are spiritually aware. Printing is typically required in math and science and some careers such as law enforcement, architecture, accounting, and the military. However, as children, these professionals most likely at least learned cursive and, whether they used it since then or not, they did become proficient in the formation of the letters. This is key!

Technology and a future catastrophe

There are so many articles and movies written about a global power outage and other massive yet global situations that can affect electronic communication. This is not just something that is fictional. There is a very real possibility of a global catastrophe that can do this very thing. What will the generation of our youth do if this were to actually occur? They would not be able to text or email anyone!

Schools: from caring and compassionate to numerical measurements

I strongly suspect that schools are in agreement to drop cursive because it is not one of the government required tests. It has been said that schools have been forced to focus on the quantity of students passing tests in order to obtain more money. Have you ever noticed how schools will then whine about having no funds for education, teacher salaries, adding needed staff, etc. yet spend ridiculous amounts on their sports teams? Overall, laws that pay schools various amounts of money based on test results of the students are the problem! It’s almost a form of bribery… if you pass 1200 kids we’ll give you $5 million but if only 800 kids pass, we can only give you $ 1 million. Whatever happened to the school mindset of “helping students become the best they can be” ? There are still a few of those teachers left but unfortunately they cannot fight the system alone.

Maria Montessori is one of those teachers. She started teaching cursive to three year olds using finger-writing in sand because of the brains development proving that tactile motions of cursive writing promotes motor development start at a very young age. Montessori methods are still at the basis of many educational and child development approaches to children's learning. I have a friend who is a teacher in one of our Asian countries who stated their schools would never consider dropping the handwriting-equivalent class in order to provide easier success for students. And we dare wonder why our United States education system is rated far below other countries! Just because something can be difficult we eliminate it from the repertoire of education? We are only teaching our youth that if it’s too hard, they don’t have to do it. Additionally, if anything is ridiculous it’s the requirements for several high school and college degrees to learn a foreign language. We live in America, learning anything other than English should not be a requirement. However, it does provide an added benefit relating to a more diverse knowledge base and career prospects… just like handwriting. Has anyone considered keeping handwriting and the need to learn a second language as electives? I mean if the schools do not want to mandate handwriting, why should those who really want to learn cursive, not have that opportunity?

It does not take a rocket scientist to see why our education system is rated so low in comparison to other countries? Just because it is difficult or not a popular thing to learn we should completely eliminate it from our education? This is also why home schooled students usually score much higher on tests compared to publicly-educated students. The truth be known, most homeschooled youth learn cursive and have handwriting included in the curriculum.

Moreover, during my practicum at the high school, I saw teachers being forced by the Special Education Department to “pass” kids even when they did not do the work or deserve to pass! In fact, in some instances, all they had to do was answer an essay question using 3 – 5 words and were given a passing grade. What I saw occur to pass students to get the numbers up and obtain more funds, was beyond appalling. It was downright pathetic. We are going to really send these so-called graduates into society to apply for jobs – showing they received a diploma yet cannot even write or read? It makes me fear for my elder years in this now “dumbed down” society!

Beyond academics we continue creating a monster… that of desensitized youth

Many students have said that school is boring, they’d rather be at home playing video games, or are being bullied and too worried about staying safe than getting good grades. What we have is a whole society full of desensitized youth with parents who brush off all anti-social behaviors as “normal childhood”. In the video I mentioned to you previously, you will see graphic victims as a result of one’s murderous rampage while youth look at these images with no emotion at all... or even a smile. Desensitized youth can also be seen beating or torturing animals – including the family pet. Desensitized youth often develop Oppositional Defiance Disorder or a myriad of other mental health indicators. After all, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Manson, Belle Gunness, and Aileen Wuornos were once kids too.

Desensitized youth can appear as manipulative, deceptive, insincere, passive-aggressive, and more. It is also important to note that studies have repeatedly shown that recurring exposure to violence of any kind, including video games, increases aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, physiological arousal and aggressive behaviors. As this occurs, the helpful, caring and empathetic thoughts and behaviors take a back seat. Overall, youth who are exposed repeatedly to violence actually get used to it and become physiologically numb.

To prove this, Dr. Carnagey at Iowa State University collaborated in a research project with another psychologist to study the effects of video game violence on physiological desensitization to real life violence. The results were published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology where they scientifically proved that there was a “reduction in emotion-related physiological reactivity to real violence." Previous studies have proven that over 85% of video games contain violence and over 72% of youth have been involved in violent acts within society.

Just taking a quick look at a newspaper or a glance at society today, we typically see too many stories about elementary students with guns, school shootings, teens abusing random adults, or ridiculing old ladies on a bus. Just check YouTube for videos of these if you don’t believe me!

Why does all of this matter anyway?

For decades other countries have been without cursive and look at their ever growing statistics of violence. According to Forbes Magazine, among the most dangerous countries are Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Lebanon, Algeria, Libya, Korea, Philippines, Columbia, Mexico, Russia, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Nigeria. Think it’s not related? Think again!

The video project that I am working on reveals the correlation of rising crime rates and the relationship of when the United States accepted the Core Standards which no longer requires handwriting in the classroom. More than that, you will also see the correlation of “no more cursive” to that of desensitized children who grow up to be cold and calculating teens and adults all while increasing the numbers in both juvenile probation and adult parole, and our ridiculous incarceration rates.

Handwriting Formation Therapy, an evidence-based program is 100% successful at stopping juvenile crime recidivism.

In 2006, I was contacted by the then-Executive Director Vicki Spriggs to try my Handwriting Formation Therapy program with their hard-to-treat repeat juvenile offenders. Each offender had failed repeatedly at all of the traditional mental health programs that were available to them. The state was desperate and I was happy to help. All of the youth who had agreed to participate in the six-month HFT program did so anonymously. They started the program in mid-January and completed it in mid-July. To-date, none of these juveniles have reoffended. More than that, each of them improved academic grades, social skills, behaviors, and more. Despite the program’s requirements, each of these youth stated they would definitely recommend it to others. Today juvenile probation offices still use this with the same great success rate. In fact, you can see a recent video interview with one of the juveniles on the “Testimonials” page at

How can this be?

It is really quite logical actually. You see, when you have a blank sheet of paper in front you it represents how you see yourself in your universe or your reality. This includes everything from your past experiences through today and into your future. In other words it will reveal your subconscious thoughts about your past and present, and how you visualize, plan and actualize your future goals and desires.

When you place your first word on that blank sheet of paper, it represents you and the distance between that initial word and the next shows any trust issues you may have. For example, if you space your words excessively wide, you are slow to trust others. Therefore, it only makes sense then that the first letter in a word represents you and the very next letter represents other people in society including family, friends, and complete strangers.

The key is learning cursive.

Even if you learned cursive in 2nd grade and never wrote it cursive again. The key is that you learned how. That is when the empathy was build. If you then stop cursive writing, you do not lose empathy. When you cursive write you are connecting to others which then subconsciously builds strong and healthy empathy for others. If you have never learned cursive and / or strictly print, you do not have nearly as strong empathy skills as your cursive counterparts.

Probably more important than all the other reasons why handwriting or cursive should be taught to children is this very thing.

All psychologists who I have spoken to or read about agree that, if children are to relate empathetically to others, they must “have a secure attachment to another person” said Carolyn Zahn-Waxler, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin. If they do not ever learn to cursive write, this attachment to another person will not be as secure as it could be.

In addition, Nancy Eisenberg, a psychologist at Arizona State University, agreed stating, “Children need a positive, caring relationship with their caretakers if they are to be able to go beyond themselves to care about others.” Same rule applies here, especially if they are in abusive families and are victim to any form of uncaring or non-nurturing caretakers.

Even the Dalai Lama stated, "In the first step toward a compassionate heart, we must develop our empathy by having closeness to others". If one does not learn to cursive write, it is virtually impossible to have strong compassion, closeness, and empathy toward others.

Therefore, keeping cursive in the classroom has way too many benefits and has the power of making a globally compassionate difference for better societies worldwide. Help stop the “dummying down of America” by mandating cursive classes in your area elementary schools. Afterall, do you really want these dummied down, desensitized and uncaring people controlling your social security benefits or healthcare? I sincerely doubt it.