Monday, February 25, 2013

Does Cursive Writing Matter Anymore?

The Common Core Curriculum standards, now adopted by over 40 states, omit a requirement to teach cursive writing. Given the widespread use of technology, some believe that society will reach a day when words are only typed and nothing will be written on paper. Many schools have pulled the plug on cursive writing, stating that it is unnecessary and an unprofitable use of time. Since the cursive writing debate has now reached our state and has become somewhat of a controversy in Wake County, I’ve decided to weigh in on the subject. Here are some good reasons to continue teaching cursive writing, especially at a young age.
  1. The constant motion required in cursive writing, as opposed to the ball and stick print method, works better, looks better, and reads better given younger students’ level of motor skill development.
  2. Writing lower case letters requires up to 6 motions in print but only 3 in cursive.
  3. Comparisons between cursive and print writers taking the SAT indicate a big advantage. Students writing in cursive have been able to write down a significantly greater amount of words than those who print.
  4. Students who have developed cursive writing skills are able to take faster notes as required in older grades.
  5. Cursive writing helps young students decipher between letters like p/q and b/d. Cursive has proven to be a greater help to students struggling with dyslexia.
  6. Cursive writing helps develop intellectual tasks. Brain research, specifically PET scans, has provided evidence that motor skills used in cursive writing open neural pathways that enable language fluency. Additionally, some studies regarding adult language learners reveal better results when students wrote rather than typed foreign language assignments.
  7. The bottom to up motion in cursive rather than the top down motion required for many print letters works better for left-handed students. They merely have to tilt the paper to keep from smudging their work.
  8. Students who never learn cursive will have difficulty reading old historical documents. I realize this is not the most convincing reason to teach cursive. It would, however, be a shame if our students could not read original copies of the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution.
  9. The constant flow of cursive writing enables a better flow of thinking when students write essays, research, and other thought provoking documents.

Agreed, cursive writing does not make a student an intellectual, nor does the desertion of cursive leave a student entirely uneducated. Education must keep up with the times by incorporating current technology into the curriculum. That does not mean traditional methods must be kicked to the curb. The development of students’ motor skills, language fluency, and intellectual thinking benefit from cursive writing. That’s why we’ll keep teaching it, and students will keep benefiting from it.

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