EDITORIAL: The cost of cancelling cursive from the school curriculum


In a few years, parents won’t have to worry about how to keep secrets from their children.

They will be able to write it in cursive, drawing puzzled looks from a generation accustomed to reading most everything in Helvetica or Droid Sans.

It seems that long-honored flowing style of penmanship is on its way to the trash heap. There, it joins such relics as calligraphy and typewriters.

Common Core Standards, the guidelines for what children learn in school, have left the decision of whether to teach cursive writing up to the states. Some have already stripped it from the classroom and others are weighing the cost and necessity of what they call a dying art.

Some others are split on the matter. While keyboarding proficiency is becoming a focus, many schools are still allowed to delve into teaching cursive writing if they want.

Middle-age and older adults today can remember laboring over the loops and descenders as they tried to transform their ball-point pens into legible documents. Left-handers can probably recall washing the ink smudges from their hand after dragging it through already-written lines of text.

Not the good old days, perhaps, but certainly a necessity. Most of the most venerable documents of history are in cursive. After all, some variation of cursive writing has been around since the time of ancient Greece. The form of longhand most know today was developed when writing with quills was a big thing; by joining the letters, the quill did not have to be lifted from the paper as often, speeding the process.

Sure, an iPad would have really helped the production output, but there should be more to writing than just outcome.

For example, cursive retains a strong element of creativity. It is deeply personal and helps develop that sense of individuality. Studies have also found information is retained and understood when notes are taking in longhand instead of typed with a keyboard.

“Cursive writing, compared to printing, is even more beneficial because the movement tasks are more demanding, the letters are less stereotypical, and the visual recognition requirements create a broader repertoire of letter representation,” neurologist William Klemm determined.

Some state lawmakers are starting to realize its benefits. They don’t want to see cursive writing go the way of compact discs (ask your parents) or vinyl albums (ask your grandparents).

Sadly, it looks as though support is hard to find. Many dismiss cursive writing as a dying and unnecessary subject.

We join those who don’t want a basic and important form of communication to fade away — clenching our ballpoint pen in hand and lifting it high in solidarity.

The Jacksonville (Ill.) Journal-Courier

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