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Should We Preserve Cursive Handwriting Instruction in Schools?


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Should We Preserve Cursive Handwriting Instruction in Schools?

Stacy Rosenblum

Debate continues to simmer around the elimination of cursive handwriting instruction from the Common Core State Standards. Here’s what you need to know:

Arguments IN FAVOR of Teaching Cursive Handwriting:

1. Cursive penmanship is a cultural tradition that allows students to comprehend primary sources that are important to the historical study of our nation and our world. Could students read transcribed versions in print? Of course, but historians and archivists argue that the nuances of a handwritten document are lost in translation.

One great example of this is the drama of John Hancock’s signature on the Declaration of Independence - impossible to translate into a typewritten document.

2. Students who struggle with dyslexia or learning disabilities have been shown to benefit from the connectedness of cursive writing. Writing in cursive literally connects the two sides of the brain, activating more areas of the brain simultaneously than printing or keyboarding.

3. Research suggests that students experience increased comprehension and written expression scores when they write in script. Access to technology is far from universal in U.S. schools. For these reasons, many educators say that cursive should continue to be the universal language of written expression for students.

4. Signatures continue to be required on legal documents such as loans, titles, and deeds. Although signatures take many forms, an argument in support of cursive handwriting instruction contends that signatures stem from a knowledge of connected letters.

Arguments AGAINST Teaching Cursive Handwriting:

1. Digital communication is the expectation of the 21st century workforce. In order to prepare our students for the future, the educational focus should be on keyboarding, technological literacy, and print.

2. The vast majority of adults write in a hybrid of cursive and print, despite having learned cursive letter formation in grade school. Modern communication simply does not demand a mastery of cursive handwriting.

3. Young children (1st - 2nd graders) can easily be taught to READ cursive writing, if they know how to read standard print. This instruction takes only 30-60 minutes of teaching and practice time. Teaching children to read script letters would provide them the access point to read primary source texts available in this form, without having extended instruction in written cursive.

4. Elementary school curricula are packed with necessary to learn skills and information. If we can agree to leave instruction of cursive handwriting by the wayside, we can regain the instructional hours for other, more pressing topics.

Which Side is Right?

The debate continues and has raised a new issue concerning the new “common” state standards. A handful of states that have adopted the Common Core will continue to offer cursive handwriting instruction as part of their state education standards.

Only time will tell whether cursive handwriting fades out of existence, or if it will continue to be taught on a state by state basis. What do you think?

Photo Credit: bill barber via Compfight cc