Nightly News   |  September 08, 2013

Is cursive a casualty of the digital era?

Schools debate whether or not they should teach cursive writing in a more technology-focused world. Is script becoming a lost art? NBC’s Lester Holt reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> finally tonight, for so many of us, it was literally a rite of passage . the sometimes painful process of learning to right cursively. or what most of us call script. but with a new school year under way, teaching the old kind of writing continues to fade. is this a good thing? lester holt examines the trend from a to the pesky z.

>> remember not to lift your pen off.

>> most of us remember it well --

>> the easiest letter for me was e.

>> the o.

>> the hardest letter for me would be the z.

>> like these third graders at south lawrence east elementary school in massachusetts. learning the loops and curves of cursive handwriting .

>> insuring that our kids have a very ledgible way to communicate as they move through school, and out hopefully into the workforce, is going to be important for them.

>> but in 2013 , is cursive really all that important?

>> clearly keyboarding and skills with a computer are much more relevant skills in the 21st century .

>> cursive is not a required part of the curriculum in the vast majority of the country.

>> there are many children today who can't even read cursive writing , let alone write it.

>> 64-year-old michael stoll is a certified master pen man. he was inspired by his mother's writing.

>> it flowed, when you read it, it felt like you were reading music.

>> you could argue the writing has been on the wall for cussive since the dawn of the email era. and now texting and social media threat ton write its final obituary. at the offices of buzzfeed, which tracks viral content on the web, a young staff finds plenty to write about. but rarely in cursive.

>> it's like collecting tropical fish or learning to play the organ.

>> jan olsen teaches cursive to teachers. like music, she says, cursive has a positive developmental impact on children.

>> in music they learn how to connect the notes and in cursive, they learn how to connect the letters.

>> back at south lawrence east --

>> when do you think you're going to use your signature in cursive?

>> the principal believes that cursive helps explain the school's high achievement scores.

>> one of the waz we've differentiated ourselves within the district is the adoption of a penmanship program.

>> those who hold fast to pen and paper say in the world of digital shorthand, the arlt of writing will have its place.

>> as long as we are human beings there will always be a desire to hand-write someone, do tell them how you feel.