A young mother recently posted a question on Facebook open to all teachers about why schools are deleting the lessons of cursive from our children’s education. It’s a valid question. Some responders were surprised to learn it was no longer being taught, but offered the idea to teach it at home if they felt the need for their child to learn it.
Our culture is changing. One person who commented, was a student who changed school systems after moving to another county. Her previous school used--even required, cursive. In her new county, she had to re-write a paper and remove the cursive style of writing before it would be accepted. Another person commented that her teenage daughter had to sign a legal form for a driving permit and signing her name, left her horribly embarrassed, because the writing looked like that of a pre-kindergartener.
One person went so far to say in an article, written for the Washington Post in April 2013, that cursive has become as “ foreign as ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.” That’s quite the statement! But as technology continues to ramp forward, and students bring iPad’s, computers, iPhones and other technological equipment into the classroom (this is especially apparent in the college setting) hand writing as we know it, is changing!
The loss of this skill is huge! There are historical documents, those who do not learn cursive will never be able to read! They can certainly resort to the computer to read what the documents contain, but they can never actually read the penned manuscripts. That may sound petty, but consider the weight of the documents: The Declaration of Independence and census records; Lincolns’ Gettysburg Address; Lewis and Clark’s Journals; a letter from Queen Elizabeth to President Eisenhower, or one from Elvis to President Nixon. The letters you may think irrelevant, but they are history!
Perhaps learning to write in cursive does seem like too much to learn to our young people! But when you begin taking away those things that develop motor skills and even patience and discipline, a person can’t help but ask, what’s next? We already don’t teach Home Economics in school anymore. Why should we? Anyone can go to the store and buy food readymade; simply throw it in the oven or microwave.
My point is this. Perhaps those who fight so hard for removing cursive from the curriculum because typing on the computer has become the “new normal” in our lives are right, but only to a degree. There is still something to be said for learning the “art” of cursive writing. It not only carries on tradition, but it helps define who we are; teaching discipline and patience----and of course, we need it to write our signature.
How do you feel about children learning cursive in our schools? Do you think it’s a valuable and viable skill or is it an ancient tradition no longer needed?