Earlier this year (2024), I found myself looking at my print notebooks, aghast. How ugly my print writing is! If you’ve ever had to read my print, you’ll find it nigh illegible. Of course, chances are, if you saw my cursive, you’d think I was a doctor. At that moment, I made a decision. I would learn cursive again as an adult. And, I would use it. But how do you learn something you should have learned as a child?

Cursive, Again

“I had probably the worst handwriting and practicing it over and over seemed to just make it worse. The class was done with ink and not pencil which added a whole different level of frustration,” says Doug Peterson at Off the Record.

You’re not alone, Doug! Writing in cursive was a pain as a child, demanding a level of patience I was ill-equipped to provide as an outdoorsy kid with a safe environment (Los Rios, Canal Zone) to roam and jungle to explore.

That question nags at me, though. Could I learn cursive as an adult? It’s not like I’d suffered a debilitating injury or anything, having to relearn how to walk again or lift a spoon to my lips. Surely, I could learn.

A Matter of Discipline

In the image above, which I’m sure I snagged off Facebook from someone’s share, there’s a list of fascinating paradoxes. Number three is appropriate for this situation, although I’m sure it’s intended for something else. It’s the pain of discipline over the pain of regret.

Now, there’s not a LOT of regret in failing to learn cursive…no where close to what one might experience what my father experienced as a tobacco/cigar smoker from the age of 18 until his 50s.

For him, regret took the form of lung cancer. Knowing that you could have gotten off the path that led to pain, if only you had paid MORE attention.

For those who eat their way into an early grave through a myriad of conditions, there’s a lot of regret and self-recrimination. I know, I’ve been doing my best to claw my way back from the edge of lifelong illness, trying to make up for a lifetime of eating well.

Through it all, I’ve learned a powerful lesson. If you don’t make little changes along the way, course corrections if you will, you will be forced to make radical change (that may fail) at the end.

It’s a truism that I keep in mind as I spend two hours on my stepper a night, if not more to stay ahead of my co-workers who are also walking their way to better health. It pushes me to read more books, take better notes.

The regret of not learning cursive, well, that’s not such a big thing compared to that commercial where the smoker says, “The biggest lies are the ones you tell yourself.” Obviously, it’s important to slow down and measure every act you take.

Where’s the Evidence?

Some of the studies I’ve read on handwritten notes definitely point towards big benefits. The problem is, you get those benefits whether your handwriting is print or cursive.

So, there’s nothing special about cursive, as far as I can tell. I’ve written about generative note-taking (or note-taking by hand) before:

“The students who were taking longhand notes in our studies had to be more selective. You can’t write as fast as you can type. And that extra processing of the material that they were doing benefited them.” Source: NPR interview

Oh, wait, I’ve got another think coming about this. Apparently, there’s a update on this from California, where they’ve made a big decision:

From the start of 2024, the state of California reinstated the requirement that first through sixth graders in public schools learn to write in cursive…

California re-joins nearly two dozen US states that have made cursive education mandatory in some form. California-based neuroscientist Claudia Aguirre says “more and more neuroscience research is supporting the idea that writing out letters in cursive, especially in comparison to typewriting, can activate specific neural pathways that facilitate and optimise overall learning and language development.”

Kelsey Voltz-Poremba, assistant professor of occupational therapy at the University of Pittsburgh, adds that young children may even find cursive easier to learn and replicate. “When handwriting is more autonomous for a child, it allows them to put more cognitive energy towards more advanced visual-motor skills and have better learning outcomes,” she says. Source: BBC.com

Research Summary

The main benefits of writing by hand are that your brain is more active than when typing. When you compare writing by hand to typewritten notes, the winner is always writing by hand.

And, as I said earlier, the benefits accrue whether you are writing in print or cursive:

the greatest benefits (to memory and learning words, for example) are tied to the act of writing itself, not cursive over print. (**Source: As cited in the BBC article

Is learning cursive merely an affectation? I know how to print, after all. Do I really need to put in hours of effort to learn how to write in cursive?

Stoking the Flames of Creativity

“Writing in a new medium encourages creativity,” I thought to myself as I worked on my micro blog.

I had to remind myself that setting up a new blog is a pain in the neck, especially when you are trying to apply what you have learned and done in the past to a new situation.

Far better to start fresh, and begin anew. Consider this quote that discusses getting out of your rut:

By switching up the medium in which you write, you’re able to challenge yourself in new ways and expand your creativity. (source)

Oh, and I did learn cursive again. Too much fun writing notes in cursive. Takes forever

Or, to go back to Marshall McLuhan’s work, often quoted to me back in my graduate school days:

The medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium - that is, of any extension of ourselves - result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology. (Source: Marshall McLuhan)

Writing my blog entries in markdown has been a lot of fun. It’s a space where formatting tools and Google’s way of doing things in Blogger doesn’t get in my way (it was after some of their recent “updates”). I suspect that writing in cursive will force my brain to engage in different ways. I already know handwriting in print has made long-term information retention better than typing (I do a lot of both). If cursive makes that handwriting more legible, and doesn’t detract from the benefits of generative note-taking, well, that’s a win.

Learning More About Cursive

How does one learn cursive as an adult? I decided to ask my Perplexity AI Pro to see what it would say. I want you to know that I’ve already put these results to the test. They work!

Here are the suggestions from the AI:

AI’s Response

Learning cursive as an adult can be achieved through a combination of online resources, practice, and consistency. Here are some steps to guide you:

  1. Start with the basics: Begin by learning the cursive alphabet. Websites like RoomRecess[2], SuryasCursive[6], and CursiveLetters[8] offer free practice sheets for each letter.

  2. Use online courses and tutorials: Websites like ConsistentCursive[7], MyCursive[5], and ThePostmansKnock[11] offer free online courses and video tutorials. These resources provide step-by-step instructions and demonstrations on how to write each letter and connect them to form words.

  3. Practice regularly: Consistency is key when learning a new skill. Aim to practice for at least 20 minutes every day[4][10]. You can use printable practice sheets from websites like CentennialCollege Library Guides[3] and SuryasCursive[6].

  4. Use workbooks: Workbooks can provide structured and progressive practice. The “Cursive Handwriting Workbook for Adults” available on Amazon offers exercises around intriguing science facts, making practice more engaging[12].

  5. Join online communities: Online communities have threads dedicated to handwriting improvement where you can share your progress, get feedback, and learn from others[1][9].

  6. Incorporate cursive into daily life: Once you’re comfortable with individual letters, start incorporating cursive writing into your daily life. Write shopping lists, notes, or journal entries in cursive to get more practice[10].

Remember, learning cursive is a process and your handwriting will improve with time and practice. Don’t rush, take your time to write beautifully, and avoid pressing too hard when writing[4].

Citations removed.

**Source: [Surya's Cursive Worksheets](https://suryascursive.com/worksheets/)**

## But wait, There's More If you click on the footnotes in the text above, you'll see some resources for each of the suggested points. What I did was download Surya's worksheets for learning cursive, and decided to start with that. * **[Get them here](https://suryascursive.com/worksheets/)**

It may be this change doesn’t do anything, but my goal? To take notes in one of my fancy notebooks in cursive. Isn’t it silly? In the big scheme of things, it’s not a big deal. Except, maybe it is…when I actually did, it was wonderful. Who knew writing in cursive could be so much fun? My younger self did not. Now that I’m old and enjoy indoor activities like writing in cursive, I do.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash