Bruce Deitrick Price
K-12: Why do they hate Cursive so much?
By Bruce Deitrick Price
March 29, 2020

Cursive has been controversial for years. The striking thing is that the Education Establishment feels really, really strongly about cursive. They hate it. But why are they so emotional?

One professor of education stated emphatically: "Teaching cursive handwriting is an outdated waste of time."

A second professor of education, quoted in the New York Times, was equally dogmatic: "Districts and states should not mandate the teaching of cursive. Cursive should be allowed to die."

You are hearing the imperious voice of an impatient Education Establishment. They do not want to discuss pros and cons. They want to have a funeral and bury this nuisance from the past. Cursive is no darn good, now do what they say.

On the other side of the divide, many phonics experts think that cursive is essential. Most importantly, it makes children focus on the shapes of the letters. Literacy happens faster and more permanently when phonics is complemented by cursive.

When you have neither phonics nor cursive (and this is the official recommendation of our Education Establishment) you have almost no literacy at all. Isn't that an intriguing convergence?

Apparently our professors of education want exactly this sad outcome. They got rid of phonics starting in 1931. Just as astonishing, they have waged an endless war against it ever since, even though their own ideas produced dismal results. US literacy rates are low; millions of functional illiterates have been created. Isn't it reasonable to guess that illiteracy, at the end of the day, is a strategic goal of our Progressive professors?

Imagine their indignation when non-credentialed amateurs try to use cursive to pull phonics back from the grave. They have told us for 80 years that phonics is bad for kids, cursive is a waste of time, and that should be the end of the discussion.

Imagine the gloomy frustration they feel when peasants insist on disobeying. Arguably, the whole point of eliminating phonics and cursive is to make the peasants less literate and easier to control.

Reading is the most important skill but our Education Establishment succeeded in crippling it with a single stroke. They get a lot of bad press from killing phonics; but that's a price they don't seem to mind paying. There is now a counter-attack on behalf of phonics; many people say the balance of evidence is all for phonics. But our Education Establishment shouts, back off. They want cooperative, interdependent children. Too much literacy gets in the way of their social engineering schemes.

So that's the battlefield any time the cursive debate is introduced. Cursive is like waving a red flag at a bull. All the official experts rush out to denounce cursive in dramatic terms. Maybe it's my imagination but I think I can feel their desperation.

They must have figured out that once children learn cursive, they will inevitably figure out phonics for themselves. They become accustomed to seeing letters and syllables; they think it's normal to read left to right.

Our professors of education don't want to lose control of reading instruction, which means they must keep denouncing cursive. But none of the reasons they mention have anything to do with why they hate cursive.

Cursive works, that's why they hate it. Phonics works, that's why they hate it. Any ordinary person may have difficulty even guessing why the Education Establishment kicked out phonics. You might assume they would want reading; truth is, they don't want reading. Assume that and then everything they do makes sense.

The proper way to teach English reading is with phonics, not sight-words, but they have kept sight-words in the schools for 80 years. When children don't learn to read in those early grades, you know they can't read vocabulary from Geography or History or Science. So what are they doing all day? Not much. But the Kings of Chutzpah will tell us, there is simply no time to teach cursive!

When people go into teaching, you can probably assume they love education. But the people at the top? You should probably assume they hate education. What they love is social engineering. Education for them is just one part of an ideological machinery that most of us don't know exists. Education, real education, gets in their way.

On the good side, their irritation tells you exactly the direction you should go if you want improvement in K-12.

Get rid of the goofy theories and methods that they love so much. In particular, eliminate any version of Sight-words, any version of Common Core, and any version of Constructivism All of these things have multiple names because the professors want to keep us confused. That is something they do really well.


Bruce Deitrick Price explains education theories on his site His newest book is "Saving K-12 – What happened to our public schools? How do we fix them?"

© Bruce Deitrick Price


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Bruce Deitrick Price

Bruce Deitrick Price is the author of six books, an artist, a poet, and an education reformer. He was born in Norfolk, Virginia, earned Honors in English Literature from Princeton, served two years in the Army, and then lived many years in Manhattan.

Price explains educational theories and methods on his ed site (founded in 2005). He has 400 education articles and videos on the Internet. More forcefully than most, Price argues that the public schools are mediocre because our Education Establishment wants them that way.

Price's literary site is .


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