Saturday, July 9, 2011

Cursive Goes Away: SO WHAT?

The State of Indiana announced June 30 that cursive writing instruction in the state is going the way of the dinosaur. It shall soon be extinct.

While part of me laments this decision, part of me is in agreement. Overall, I think this reform, coupled with a concentration on keyboarding skills for young students, is an appropriate step and change in education.

Our students live today in a digital world. Laptops, cell phones, and computers have replaced land lines, pen, and paper. Continuing to teach something that is truly an outmoded way to communicate could be considered unnecessary.

I think people equate pen-to-paper writing to actual writing skills, and that just is a connection that should not be made. Schools continue to teach writing skills that students will need to be successful. We are still teaching students to write as well as well as type. It's just the idea that cursive writing is heading out. Students are still being taught, as well, to read it.

I saw someone on Tony Bennett's Facebook page arguing that not teaching students to read cursive writing prevents them from reading our founding documents such as the Constitution. Frankly, I have found those documents tough to read. Penmanship has changed over the years. My grandmother's beautiful longhand has become largely "chicken scratches" these days. When you step it back to James Madison's day, longhand is almost indecipherable to me, and I learned to write in cursive. My cursive, however, is not the cursive that was drilled into my head by, frankly, my least-favorite teacher of all time in the second grade. My writing has changed over the years, but I actually think it's gotten better. What you find as a high school teacher is that neat handwriting is extremely rare. Typing is better!

While I feel bad that times are changing, I think that this is an appropriate reform by Dr. Bennett and a step in the right direction.


Anonymous said...

There was a time when every young man needed to know how to shoe a horse. That skill is not needed to lead the typical life now and it is not taught by either parents or schools. For those with the hobby or interest, it can be a full skill. Cursive writing is the same. It is a skill that is no longer needed but it can be fun to do. Think about the last time you really really needed to write or read cursive.

Anonymous said...

The physical act of writing in cursive also taught organization and order. This will prove to be a loss for students in the long run.

William said...

I agree that with everything else students need to learn that cursive is something that is much more of a luxury now.

I learned to write in cursive but as I moved through school I used it less and less. By high school virtually everything was typed.

Anonymous said...

There is a problem with this "get rid of it because we're in the digital age" simplistic view...cursive developed because it is faster than writing in print. Since humans think faster than they write, jotting ideas down is facilitated by cursive, even moreso than print. College note taking is far more immediate when written in a cursive shorthand than typing, and absolutely free of power or energy sources. Professors still write comments in cursive and will continue for some time. Do we really want students who cannot read commentary on their own work? This is not so much about archaic practices and the troglodyte's fear of technology as it is about basic literacy.