Is cursive doomed to become a relic of history? New national teaching standards, to be implemented by 45 states next year, are pointing away from cursive in favor of technology. From the Goshen News (hat-tip to Linda):
Those standards include proficiency in computer keyboarding by the fourth grade, but make no mention of the need for cursive writing ability, even though it has been integral to American culture since the nation’s founding.
That lack of mention has moved schools to abandon resources and courses once devoted to teaching penmanship — much to the dismay of those who say the curriculum change will eventually lead to an inability to comprehend both historic and contemporary handwritten documents, including identifying signatures.
Supporters of the change aren’t concerned. They say that today’s textbooks and other reading material are widely available in electronic form — on computers, tablets, e-readers and smartphones. As for signatures, they predict scanned eyeballs and fingerprints are destined to replace scribbled names. Hand writing, they insist, is simply no longer worth time-consuming lessons.
I thought a little about how I write. I haven’t penned anything in pure cursive in years. I’d probably call what I do a print/cursive hybrid. Most of the letters start out as block letters, but sometimes meld together, linked by cursive-esque loops. It’s the opposite of beautiful. I’m not even sure how legible it is to anyone besides the writer.
Different culture, different reality?
My shaky penmanship aside, I do wonder if an emphasis away from the printed word has led us to get a little sloppy with the language. How much of our text is generated by hand, and how much by pressing keys or a touchscreen? 80% in favor of electronic? 90% maybe?
I’m hardly perfect myself, but a lot of the online communication I see nowadays (often devoid of punctuation or capitalization) makes me wonder where we’re headed. Or maybe people who create those messages would write that way with a pen too.
Amish children, for what it’s worth, learn cursive in schools. It is used regularly for letter-writing and for some, to even do things like create homemade business cards. But most of the text they’ll produce in their lives won’t be via a laptop or smartphone touchscreen. For today’s non-Amish children, it’s a different story.
Did you learn cursive in school? Should we still teach children cursive, or are resources better spent elsewhere?
Cursive notebook photo: theilr/flickr