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Editorial: Cursive writing: a relic of the past or key to the future?
About politics and other thingsMarch 19, 2014 | 3,559 views | 8 comments
Do you know what your children and grandchildren are being taught in school?
We used to assume that they were being taught “reading, writing, and arithmetic,” and we were pleased with that curriculum. Now American public schools, and some private ones, are teaching to a “common” standard.
Just as many states are adopting the Common Core teaching methods, others are beginning to question the merits of some of its requirements. The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a program that teaches to a consistent standard for grades K-12. While the teaching methods are standardized, so, too, are the testing requirements. For instance, the SAT college entrance examination has just dropped the timed essay requirement and no longer requires cursive handwriting.
This latest move, however, has come under fire, as parents realize that creativity, logic, and critical thinking are giving way to standardization. At best, methods for teaching math are clumsy. Spelling? Forget it. And handwriting is gone.
If you have seen anything written by students lately -- even high school students -- it likely will be printed with block letters. They use their little thumbs to text anything, sans spelling and grammar. They communicate with 140 characters, using numbers for prepositions and abbreviations for phrases.
They know all the shortcuts, but is it possible that, by avoiding the use of longhand (also called cursive or script), they are shortchanging their thinking skills?
With cursive writing, your brain, eye, and hand have to be engaged to know what letter comes next. It forces you to think through your message instead of just spitting it out.
When you “keyboard,” if you write garbage, you just hit the delete key. You don’t have to think.
Additionally, if students cannot write cursive, how will they even sign legal documents? They will be unable to read historic documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, but will have to depend on a third party to interpret this part of history.
For these reasons, North Carolina, California, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Virginia now require students to be taught to use script in school, and Tennessee has introduced legislation to do the same.
Although Texas does not have a law mandating the use of cursive in schools, many private schools still teach it, as do some individual teachers. Not that penmanship has to be taught as a subject like it used to be when students practiced writing over and over until a beautiful flowing script was the norm; but writing in cursive is faster than printing so it’s easier to take notes, and it’s important to be able to read those notes.
It’s true that the cursive writing of today has changed. For instance, I do not have the beautiful, graceful handwriting of my mother’s generation. In general, we have gotten away from the elegant handwriting that our ancestors used. The use of flairs and flourishes in ascenders and descenders, for instance, has been eliminated or significantly decreased.
Still, is this any reason to totally eliminate the teaching of cursive as a means of communication? Sadly, some think it is, but do we want entire generations incapable of reading historical documents that were written in that classic, flowing penmanship?
We must decide if writing in longhand is a lost art not worth keeping, or is an essential learning and communication skill for the future. This is just one of the things that the current public school system needs to assess as the nation moves toward adopting the Common Core method of teaching.
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March 23, 2014 4:50pm
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