Reading History in Real Documents

Drew Gilpin Faust, Arthur Kingsley Porter University Professor at Harvard University, shares a lesson she learned when students in her undergraduate history class could not read documents written by soldiers and others during the Civil War.

Why could they not read them? They were written in cursive! In 2010, cursive was omitted from the new national Common Core standards for K–12 education. Today’s students would have been in elementary school when the change went into effect.

In the linked article, Faust asks her students questions about how they connect with daily tasks and others. To her shock students change entire fields of study to avoid cursive writing.

She traces writing and cursive in America through the decades and learns that most students could not read the notes their professors were writing on their essays, papers, and other work!  She also discusses the pushback in eliminating cursive writing from the classroom.

In the future will cursive have to be taught to scholars the way Anglo-Saxon letters, Elizabethan secretary hand or paleography are taught today?

Manuscript Society Executive Director Shirley Sands notes:

My own experience in the classroom mirrors Dr. Faust’s. Teaching both American History and Comparative Religion at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette in the decade of the 2010s, comments I would write on student essays, term papers, and exams were being read by one student to another because my very legible writing could not be read by the recipient.  I started printing but that caused problems too.

For the entire thought-provoking article Click Here.