Monday’s (9.23.13) Columbus Dispatch published an article from Bloomberg titled “Cursive Backlash is just loopy.” The editorial piece highlighted the fact that some schools across the United States have stopped teaching cursive and that the Common Core State Standards do not include teaching cursive. The article states that “School districts that have stopped teaching cursive understand that people will increasingly “ write” with keyboards. For these reasons, the Common Core State Standards Initiative, sponsored by the National Governors Association, excluded cursive from its recommended curriculum, which has been adopted by 45 states. The standards require students to demonstrate proficiency in using a keyboard to type at least a page in a single sitting by the fourth grade.”
As a child in school I suffered for years to try and form perfect cursive letters. Today I could sign my name in cursive but I would struggle to write a sentence or an entire paragraph. As soon as teachers stopped requiring cursive writing I moved on to block printing (above). My wife on the other hand was a model student and today her cursive would be as beautiful as it was in the eighth grade.
Is there a place for cursive writing today? In Worthington we no longer include cursive writing in our graded course of study. However it is a district expectation that students in third grade learn cursive handwriting. Our teachers work with students to make certain they can form their letters in cursive and so that they can sign their names. Our handwriting workbooks guide this instruction. The difference today from 20 years ago is that we do not devote the same amount of time to this instruction as we once did. Most of our students will not reach the cursive proficiency mark and we are O.K. with that. We want our students to have a working knowledge of cursive but we don’t need them to be experts. They will likely take notes, and will certainly write important papers, on computers.
Our world today is complex. Our students need to be able to think critically and they need to be able to write effectively. They must be able to access the tools of today and the tools of tomorrow to make that happen. The time that used to be devoted solely to cursive handwriting may now be split with composing on Google Doc’s, Microsoft Word, or Pages. For our students learning to select appropriate fonts may be just as important as learning to write in cursive.
As with any change there is loss. Some of us will bemoan the loss of cursive instruction. Others may celebrate this change. In Worthington we’re seeking to take a middle ground approach that we believe is a common sense approach. Obviously we hope you think this makes sense as well.