Wednesday, February 04, 2015

The End of Cursive?

Every time I hear about another school system deciding to remove cursive writing from their curriculum, I get a little sadder. Learning cursive used to be a rite of passage in grade school along with learning how to tie one’s shoes. One of those skills that comes in handy throughout your life.

Apparently, this isn’t just an issue here in the U.S. Our neighbors to the north have also been removing cursive from the curriculum for a while now.

(Interesting side note: according to the above article, the form of cursive taught in the U.S. and Canada is particular to North America. Developed by a Canadian, H.B. MacLean, the MacLean Method was taught widely throughout both countries. Looking at the letters for the MacLean method, I'm not totally convinced it's what I learned. My handwriting certainly doesn't look as fancy as those letters. But, still, it's an interesting side note.)

I’m definitely in the pro-cursive camp. I still believe this “ancient skill” has a use today. I’ve always felt that I remember things better if I write them down. Something about putting pen to paper ingrains whatever I’m writing into my brain that typing (sorry, keyboarding) does not. And there’s just something comforting about writing in a flowing script. (Don’t tell me I can print. It’s just not the same thing and so much more painful.) Plus I also find I write better drafts of a chapter for a WIP if I write the initial version in longhand.

There are a number of different studies that seem to support the idea that learning cursive is good for the brain. According to this article in Psychology Today, “scientists are discovering that learning cursive is an important tool for cognitive development” and that cursive “activates areas of the brain that do not participate in keyboarding."

Then there are some articles here on the Campaign for Cursive blog that support the idea that students who take notes in longhand in class retain more than those who take notes using a keyboard.

But, what really got to me recently was this Huffington Post blog post that points out what people who can’t read cursive could be missing out on: a recipe written out in cursive by a grandparent, a letter written by an ancestor.

I know there are more pressing problems in the world, but this one still bugs me. What do you all think?


Sue Coletta said...

What a shame! How are kids supposed to learn to sign their name if they don't learn cursive? Does that mean printing your name on legal documents, checks, and the like, will become acceptable? I doubt it. All in all the schools are doing our children a disservice. Maybe we should start a country-wide petition. :-)

Sybil Johnson said...

The argument for kids not needing to sign their names goes something like this: on cards, etc., they can print it; no one writes checks any more; most documents permit e-signatures.

Still, I think it's sad not knowing how to write your own name in cursive.

What will future authors do when asked to autograph a book? Print their name? Of course, printed books may not be around then.

Aline Templeton said...

My grandchildren are being taught to write in cursive without being taught how to form the letters first. The result is hideous - I suspect it might be better to teach them to print and then they can join it up later.