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Should Schools Teach Cursive Writing?

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  • No, schools should not be required to teach cursive. Keyboarding is far more important of a skill for students to learn. The hosts made a point to teach cursive so kids could read their grandparents letters. THis is an esoteric reason, there is so much that is important for kids to know, so teaching cursive should be an elective, not a requirement. I didn’t learn how to read calligraphy, and therefore cannot read an original version of the US constitution. Cursive is following that same path and while that may be ‘sad’ (and yes, a part of me mourns the loss of cursive) it does not mean we should continue teaching it.

  • We still teach Chaucer and Shakespeare and we should still teach cursive. As we evolve we will continue to lower the priority of many things that actually have added benefits that will be missed. Review the increasing need for math skills, calculators do much of the jobs now, we still have to know our multiplication tables, just not the slide rule. Penmanship, as it was called long ago, is just an art that will be budgeted away as the need for speed and efficiency force their way into our children’s lives. Sad, really.

  • Learning to read cursive is an easy skill. As a second-grade teacher, I slowly start transitioning from manuscript to cursive as the year goes on. An argument for learning cursive is speed. My students are amazed and comment on how fast I can write something on the board. I cannot imagine notetaking in classes if I had to write in manuscript.

    I think the argument that connects movement and brain is a valid one. Watching students struggle with handwriting or even tying shoes reminds me that having the time to practice is important. Time is what’s lacking in the school day.

    30 years ago, I had to pass a handwriting class in college before I was allowed to work at a school.

  • We teach Chaucer and Shakespeare for the ideas , artistry and their (ahem) way with words. We don’t present them in their original handwriting, and in Chaucer’s case, not even the original language. Comparing math skills to cursive is like comparing language skills to typography. If we do know our multiplication tables , we can use any symbols for the actual values, even Roman Numerals.
    Cursive,, like calligraphy, is an art form, There is no longer a really practical use for either. If needed for aesthetic reasons, an artist can produce either, Reasonable facsimiles an be produced by anyone who can type and has access to a modest computer.
    Concerning speed, as a graphic artist, I can hand print letters almost as fast as using cursive, its certainly more readable by the typesetter. Most people who use printing exclusivly can match the cursive users speed. Except perhaps at extreme speed, but then the cursive is usually “hen scratch” almost a personal shorthand.
    Learning to effectively touch type is much more practical than learning cursive. If I had really learned typing, I could by pass the type setter using almost any desk top, as it is, it is faster for me, with my two finger pecking, to have someone else do the actual typing. That brings up another analogy, Sending computer generated copy directly to a printer vs, clamping hand set type into a press. To me, as a graphic artist, lazer or ink jet, or even photo off set will never compare aesthetically to letter press.
    Miss Manners and cohorts may rue the passing of the formal hand written note as E-mail , E-Vites etc. proliferate, but the times they are a changing. Already we can compare the formality of E-Mail to that of a tweet. Future generations may disparage whatever replaces the artistic and formal E-Mail. Cursive writing will join such ruefully nostalgic memories of a by gone, perhaps more polite, era as the calling card and the visiting card, along with knowledge of when to use either.

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