I recently tripped over a news item that made me do a double take. It seemed innocent enough, but it really startled me.
It was a short notice that a local school was offering cursive writing lessons to anyone who wanted to take them.
I was a bit shocked because
- I was under the misguided assumption that everyone had to suffer through practicing thousands of loops in third grade, and
- If they didn’t, why would they want to?
Apparently, there is a not-so-subversive cursive war raging through America’s education system.
Most states have made teaching cursive writing optional. The argument is that there are more important areas to concentrate on during the limited school day—like keyboarding. In a time when kindergarteners are using iPads in schools, teaching handwriting seems as outmoded as the quill. Why not teach skills that will be more important in “real life”?
While the opposition’s arguments are sometimes specious (one Washington state lawmaker proclaimed that cursive was part of “being American”), there is research that outlines the benefits of hand writing. The tactile connection from brain to hand to paper has been shown to improve motor skills and spark creativity. It can also help mitigate dyslexia.
Should we just let cursive die out?
Personally, I would hate to see that happen. Taking the time to write something out long hand forces me to slow down and makes my work more thoughtful. I also feel that technology more and more disassociates us from what we produce. There’s something about holding what I’ve written in my hand on paper that seems much more solid than posting it up on the “cloud.” In fact, I’ve gone to using fountain pens for some of my writing.
Don’t get me wrong; there’s no way I’m giving up my computer. But I sometimes get more satisfaction from all those loops on a page.
Where do you stand?