One of my son’s favorite activities is creating his own baseball cards, starring himself on various teams playing various positions. Sometimes I draw the pictures and he colors them; sometimes he creates the whole card start-to-finish. Always he “autographs” them. But at 8, he doesn’t know cursive. We’re working on it, but for now, he muddles his way through a signature that’s more of a series of slopes and loops than a collection of actual letters. That may soon change. Illinois lawmakers passed a bill last month requiring elementary schools to teach cursive writing starting in the 2018-2019 school year. in September, calling it “yet another unfunded mandate,” but the House and Senate . “Cursive writing is a skill children will need throughout their lives,” state Sen. Kimberly Lightford, who led the cursive initiative, . “You cannot write a check, sign legal documents or even read our Constitution without an understanding of cursive writing.” I’ve been intrigued by cursive ever since I read that it in ways that printing and typing do not. I called Virginia Berninger, a University of Washington professor of educational psychology and principal investigator for National Institute of Child Health and Human Development-funded research at the university. She has studied the effects of cursive learning on children’s brains and advocates for its continued inclusion. Research shows kids who learn printing and cursive, Berninger said, perform better at spelling and composition than kids who don’t, because the parts of the brain that are activated during the serial finger movements used in handwriting are also activated during spelling and composing. “Handwriting is not just a motor skill,” Berninger told me. “It’s a unit of language — forming a letter, identifying a letter. Handwriting teaches language and sequencing and motor skills.” Cursive handwriting, she said, offers the added benefit of connecting strokes and letters to speed up our writing. “You can express your thoughts and your next words without losing them,” she said. Typing, you could argue, offers that same speed. And Berninger is all for teaching typing, which offers plenty of benefits, including that it