Many of us in our twenties and thirties grew up with cursive writing as a keystone step in the school curriculum. Now, with the increase influence of technology in the schools, officials are debating on taking cursive writing out of the curriculum. Ludicrous! Some of us might say. As such, many feel passionate about this issue and want to put up a fight. In addition, others endeavor to put up valid reasons for its removal from school curriculums. To carry on, much literature has been written concerning this issue with unease expressed from both sides. I firmly believe we need to look at this issue from a critical standpoint before we cast our judgment and attempt to solve this problem.
What are the issues being raised? First we must think what is all the hoop la about cursive writing? Who and why is it slowly being taking out of some school curriculums? Why is it getting so much attention? I’ve narrowed down three personal reasons why I think so. 1. Too much emphasis placed on preparation for state tests/assessments 2. The rise of the internet with a push for children to be technology savvy, and 3. Lack of time during the day with too many other things teachers have to do instead of teach cursive handwriting. Although these reasons are not research based, I believe there is a strong link between my reasons and those researchers have come up with.
I disagree with Kate Gladstone, a handwriting expert and educator who quoted that cursive writing should be taught, but only to read and not to write; that it takes too much time and energy to teach both. Hinting, that it takes away too much time from standardized teaching time. Great emphasis recently has been placed on teachers and administrators to teach for passing such tests.
The technology age can be cited as an additional reason for the removal of cursive writing from school curriculums. In fact, the rise of the internet and computer usage can be cited as the greatest reason for the lack of will to prepare students for cursive writing. Many experts feel in this technology stressed world, keyboard typing is the best writing skill a child can learn during school. What are the essentials of typing on the computer? Typing uses a slightly different motor skill which is faster and allows children to finish their writing faster, allowing for better grammar and planning and more extensive masterpieces. Keyboard typing is being implemented in school curriculums with the implementation of the new common core state standards, which are to be implemented nationwide in 2014.
With easy access to computers either at home or public libraries, experts feel that teaching keyboarding skills is a lot easier, convenient, and realistic. Now, with keyboarding skills being taught earlier and apart of state standards, handwriting instruction time has been reduced drastically inside the classrooms. Although this is being the case, standardized tests still calls for cursive handwriting. Steven Graham, a special education professor at Vanderbilt University cites, the most efficient way for anyone, including children to record their thoughts is at a keyboard. Graham suggests that schools concentrate on improving students’ handwriting period, whatever method that is. However, it is important to note that two out of three children in this country do not write well enough for their classroom work. Hence, teaching handwriting instruction is very important still in school curriculums.
But also, we have to think about the practical implications behind such an issue. Can you imagine an adult not being able to sign their name on a document? Also, isn’t cursive writing a skill set, even if it is a simple one that a person should want to possess? I believe it is a very important form of the learning process, and to even think about taking it out of the curriculum is ludicrous!
We all know and can expect, especially those of us in education, that bad handwriting skills can affect academic performance. I think the excuse of cursive writing taking up too much time or energy to be taught in the schools is a pitiable way of getting rid of cursive writing in the schools. If taught correctly, cursive can be a handwriting skill that can improve cognitive function, as well as equip students and future citizens in society with an additional skill set. People have even said cursive writing is a skill that offers benefits for students, including boosting higher SAT scores.
Research say most people believe that cursive writing should stay in the schools for the following reasons: it is a great cognitive skill to learn, it is a great way to exercise brain neurons, it is very personable, and is still a reliable way of communication. Research also shows that if done right, early handwriting instruction improves student’s writing, not just its legibility, but its quantity and quality too.
Also, writing and spelling are linked to generating and organizing ideas. Why take away a form of the writing process from school curriculums when there’s clearly evidence of its benefits? I believe this is where caution should be thrown in when it comes to legislators and policy makers creating and generating laws that may be unfit or not beneficial truly for the public, schools, and education.
In any event, what can serve as importance when it pertains to this case debate are the opinions of the children and students themselves. I polled a classroom of 7th graders on the cursive writing topic. I asked them to write at least one paragraph on what they think the benefits of cursive writing are, if there are any benefits? When were they taught it? And whether or not they like it? Also, I gave them the option of writing their assignment in cursive or not, just to see how many would do so if given the option. The data was somewhat skewed. Most of the children did not completely answer each question that was asked of them. Therefore, it was best appropriate to take more so a qualitative report than a quantitative one. Most learned how to write cursive in the 3rd grade, one student in the fifth grade and one other in the 1st grade. The remaining four students questioned did not answer the question. Five students stated they did not like writing in cursive. Two stated they did like writing in cursive. The remaining two was neutral neither stating whether they liked writing in cursive or not. Seven students did not answer the beneficial question. The two who did respond thought cursive writing was beneficial as a handwritten form. Out of the nine students who responded to the assignment, only two wrote in cursive.
The data suggest children at least at the seventh grade level are not that keen on cursive handwriting. They really don’t use it or like it. This suggests that they really do not know the importance of using it during adulthood. Students must develop a desire to want to improve their writing skills. They must develop the will power to want to do so. Teachers’ jobs are to help instill the will, likeness, and importance of cursive writing despite the wide use of technology in today's society, in the minds of the children they teach.