Cursive: A Lost Art Form or A Lost Cause?
Over the last decade, schools have slowly begun to remove learning cursive as a part of the curriculum for elementary students. This move was a long time in the making, and has received its fair share of criticism from educators and parents alike.
History of Cursive:
Cursive handwriting dates back to the Roman Empire, but has its more “recent” roots in 17th century Italy, with the rise of penmanship schools. Once thought of as both an art form and a practical skill, cursive has a long history that supporters reference when reiterating the importance of keeping it in school curriculums.
Why Cursive Matters:
Cursive supporters maintain several points when fighting to keep it in the curriculum.
- Cursive teaches discipline and neatness. Remember tracing the alphabet on
lined sheets of double-ruled loose-leaf paper? In addition to being slightly frustrating (come on, we’ve all been eight years old before), this activity played a critical role in the development of certain life skills. It takes patience to perfect the curly loops, dexterity to link the letters together and memory to translate the way the letters look from their printed forms into cursive script.
- Cursive improves hand-eye coordination. Kids these days spend more time playing video games and pressing buttons on their cell phones than they do perfecting their penmanship, but the same principle applies across both activities: it improves hand-eye coordination immensely. Only one of those activities, however, can help them in school.
- Cursive is an art form. Let’s be honest: Cursive is often prettier than its print counterpart. Yes, it takes time to teach, but proper penmanship is always worth it. Plus, it’s like riding a bike—once a child learns cursive, they likely won’t forget it anytime soon.
- Cursive is necessary for signatures. When was the last time you printed your name on a check or another equally important form? Exactly.
Why Cursive Doesn’t Matter:
On the other hand, cursive has plenty of critics who claim that teaching this dead form of penmanship is simply a waste of time.
- No one uses it. This is the rallying cry of the anti-cursive movement’s main supporters. Other than third grade handwriting tests, cursive doesn’t get much face time.
- Technology has evolved, and so has the way we approach language. Some schools don’t even use paper anymore, and issue each child a laptop from the first day of kindergarten. What’s the point in teaching penmanship if the students aren’t using actual pens?
- Teaching students cursive is time-consuming. And removing it from the curriculum will leave room for them to focus on other, more important subjects. Like math, science, reading and spelling. Eliminating cursive can even create the space for students to pick up additional hobbies, like joining a robotics club.
Ultimately, it’s up to individual school curriculums to decide what their students will learn. If your child is in a school that doesn’t teach cursive, remember that you can always take matters into your own hands, brush off those pencils and teach them yourself.
The Denver Post. (2013, November 15.) Is Learning Cursive Really Necessary in the Modern Age?
Mandel, Bethany. (2017, February 20.) Why We Should Teach Cursive Writing to All Kids.