Under the current system, learning 'die Schreibschrift' is compulsory for all schoolchildren in Germany but many German teachers consider it as a completely unnecessary and dead-weight tradition.
The national primary schoolteachers union has started a campaign to abolish the compulsory teaching of cursive script.
Hamburg has recently took the rather radical step of introducing a new, easier alphabet called "die Grundschrift" that can take children all the way from tracing their first letters as toddlers to full fluency in adulthood.
It is an idea some German language scholars consider culturally traitorous. Josef Kraus, president of the Deutscher Lehrerverband, the teaching union which represents 100,000 secondary school teachers, said that Grundschrift would be detrimental to both teachers and children. "The legibility will not improve, but rather noticeably worsen, because each pupil will join up the letters however they fancy. The speed of writing will also decrease,"
When they start school, most German children begin by getting to grips with holding a pencil and then printing individual letters. At the end of the first year or the beginning of the second, they are then introduced to the cursive script and its loopier letters, which join together in a prescribed fashion.
"It means they have to learn two scripts one after another, which wastes time and interrupts the learning process," said Hecker. "With Grundschrift, they start with one script and stick with it. They are always going to develop their own handwriting anyway."
Whereas some countries such as the UK and the USA do not have a national script, Germany has long had its own style of handwriting, which has developed over the years. Before the second world war, Germans wrote in the highly decorative Stütterlin script, until it was deemed by Hitler to be too parochial and not befitting a world power. In 1941 he replaced it with a "Latin script", which he felt would be more international.
After the war, some schoolchildren were still taught Stütterlin so that they could understand letters from their grandparents, but the art soon died out. Since 1993 the "Vereinfachte Ausgangsschrift" (easier model script) has been on the syllabus.