Katie Zezima makes the case for teaching The Children cursive handwriting:
1) Might people who write only by printing — in block letters, or perhaps with a sloppy, squiggly signature — be more at risk for forgery? 2) Is the development of a fine motor skill thwarted by an aversion to cursive handwriting? 3) And what happens when young people who are not familiar with cursive have to read historical documents like the Constitution? [numbers mine--ed]
So, there are three objections. Let’s deal with them one at a time.
1) I have never had my signature on a bill compared to the signature on my credit card. Ever. I have been asked for a photo ID that matches the name on the card, however, and this seems to me a better means of ensuring that I am who I say I am than comparing two signatures (especially since the signatures on all my cards are pretty much illegible due to, you know, sitting on my wallet all the time). Furthermore, more and more fraud (and identity theft) is happening online where, it goes without saying, signatures aren’t really the mark of your identity that they are when you sign the canvasser’s petition on your doorstep. Anecdotal though it may be, I have actually met people who’ve had their identity poached via the Internet. I have never met someone whose signature was co-opted to commit fraud.
2) Who cares? There are many examples of fine motor skills we’ve abandoned as technology has evolved to make our day-to-day lives more efficient. I would imagine that there are far fewer people, for example, who know how to ride a horse (as a percentage of the population) than there were in the beginning of the 20th century. Should high schools maintain a stable of stallions so that we don’t forget this valuable skill, or should they just accept that the times are changing?
3) Teaching people how to read a script is not the same as teaching them how to re-create it. Again, it’s anecdotal, but I can barely remember how to make a “Q” in cursive; I can nevertheless read the shit out of the Constitution. So teach kids to read cursive, by all means, sure, I don’t have a problem with that — it is indeed a useful skill. Teaching them to write it when it is clearly on its last legs? Luddism of the worst kind.