Remember practicing the endless pages of patterns and curls that culminated in cursive? I struggled to master many of the letters and longed for the simple lines of print. Cursive writing was traditionally introduced in the second grade and mastered in the third, but many schools are skipping over cursive to opt for the more tech-savvy options. Once children have learned how to write, educators are increasingly moving them on to the keyboard so that they can learn to type. Could this spell the end of cursive writing?
It would seem so as 46 states have adopted the Common Core Standards which no longer mandate the teaching of cursive in elementary schools. Of course the need to type in today’s computer-centric world is obvious and many schools move second and third graders who have mastered printing their letters straight to the keyword.
Jan Olsen, founder of “Handwriting without Tears” laments the loss of penmanship saying; “If you stop teaching handwriting in the second grade, you’re going to have a generation of people who write like second graders.”
Some parents are also sad to see the end of the elegant script. Lisa Faircloth, an Atlanta mother of two says she’s really glad that her son Joe learned cursive before it was cut; “I feel like it has helped him with his fine motor skills and made him more graceful,” she says. “He shows more of an interest in art because he is able to form things he hadn’t before and has new muscle movements that he didn’t know before.”
Other researchers are not concerned with the possibility that future generations may not be able to read the Declaration of Independence or sign autographs. They are content to have students read important documents transcribed in digital form and sign their names in print.
The only remaining argument in support of cursive writing is the speed at which it enables the writer to work. If most students had access to laptops or PCs which made it possible for them to type in-school assignments and exams, then the death of cursive would be a moot point. But with most of the work in schools still done by hand, a legible handwriting that can be quickly executed is invaluable. Under the stress of exams and with time constraints, students may not have enough time to write legibly; an impediment that may see them lose valuable marks. If your child can write legibly in print and fast enough to keep up during exams and while taking notes in class, they may not need to learn cursive writing.
Good penmanship has always been an asset to the well-rounded individual. Perhaps it’s old fashioned, but most people appreciate the personal touch that a hand-written letter or card conveys so much more than their digital counterparts. But sentiment must give way to progress as the need for children to be able to type outweighs the romance of cursive writing.