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End of The Cursive Writing Era


Do you recall learning to carefully link your letters together, forming those odd-looking letters that somewhat resembled the print you were so used to? Cursive handwriting, the graduation from writing print, block letters to fancy curvatures with a smooth finish. Do our children of the 21st century still need to learn this traditional form of free-hand writing that graced one of the most important documents of our American history: The Constitution of the United States? If so, why is cursive writing coming to an end with such a strong historical background as the classical writing style?

According to the Common Core Standards in schools, school curriculums no longer require teachers and students to teach and learn cursive handwriting due to lack of time and resources. In May 2016, there were only 15 states that have continued to keep cursive writing in their curriculum. In some states where cursive handwriting has been removed from the curriculum, schools have created an afterschool cursive club.

What would happen if our children’s children could not decipher historical documents written in cursive? Would we really need specialists to “translate” English cursive?

Will The Kids Lose Out?

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If there is no time, resources, or incentives to teach children cursive handwriting, what are they really missing out on? As children practice the skill the cursive writing, the natural flow of movement engages their cognitive skills. This cognitive development helps students reason, problem solve, conceptualize, and enhance their decision-making skills. Cursive handwriting also improves children’s fine motor skills with coordination, muscle control and development, and hand-eye synchronization.

The phrase, “Write it down or you’ll forget it,” is scientifically true. Neuropsychology shows that the act of listening and handwriting links the verbal and spatial processing regions of the brain, strengthening memory. This makes note-taking efficient and memorable.

Do you recall the first time you were able to write your name in cursive? How proud you were to see your name written all “fancy” like a grown-up? Will your child experience that pleasure or just click “insert signature here”? Will they be able to quickly jot down their thoughts and express ideas while journaling?

Here are some skill sets that your child may not fully develop with the dismissal of cursive handwriting:

  • Visual-motor coordination
  • Visual synthesis
  • Visual perception
  • Visual memory
  • Spatial relationship
  • Focus
  • Spelling
  • Reading
  • Self-confidence

“Teaching BOTH of these handwriting formats has advantages, including learning to recognize and write letters despite small variations in letter forms sharing the same name,” she wrote in the NASBE commentary. “Consider all the fonts computer users can choose from for word processing. Apple’s Steve Jobs was an accomplished calligrapher before he became a pioneer in technology tools to support writing—and that is one of the reasons we have so many font styles to choose from in computer writing!” 

Virginia Berninger, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Washington.

Technology Over Cursive Handwriting

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Millennials were still taught cursive handwriting, however, as technology progressed, the need for hand-written correspondence dropped dramatically. Typed documents became the standard, emailing homework assignments or printing them for review is normal. The importance shifted from handwritten skills to personal computer knowledge and usage.

Cursive handwriting was and is naturally fading away in our technological-immersed world. So, naturally, yes, the need for cursive handwriting education is becoming obsolete.

Children are now reading and writing on tablets, computer screens, and various other handheld devices. The need for chalkboards and paper is so “old school”.

Research conducted in 2015 by the Nielsen found that the average American adult spends over 11 hours a day in front of a screen. Humans and technology are so intertwined; it makes sense that typing skills would be preferred to that of cursive writing skills.

How about spelling skills lost with cursive writing (and in print)? Even though a child may learn cursive handwriting, they are still immersed in our technological culture where their techie little gadgets have spell-check and autocorrect at their whim. Is our focus on cursive handwriting actually misplaced?

Is the real concern about spelling efficiently and functioning cognitively with our wording more important than how it’s written? Our kids are not only losing out on fine writing and motor skills but now they are learning to spell via automatic fill-ins (which means they can’t spell without a computer).

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Perhaps the emphasis shouldn’t be primarily on losing out on cursive handwriting skills, but language skills, spelling skills, and smart integration of technology. Remember, “ur” is actually spelled “your” or “you’re”. Will our children know the difference on a research paper, a resume, or in their private journal?

Our schools may be fading out the need for cursive handwriting and it makes sense as the digital age has eliminated the need for pen and paper to jot down everyday notes, tasks, and job requirements. However, writing in and of itself goes beyond the curves or the block letters too. Our children’s brains may be adapting to the digital age, but it doesn’t mean it’s the ideal environment to develop their cognitive skills as a fully-functioning adult as they did historically with hands-on writing and learning experiences.

You might also like: Finland Is First Country To Get Rid Of School Subjects.

Daily Mom parents portal cursive writing Pin

Photo Credits: AndiL. 

References: ThinkFun.com, nancyebailey.com, edweek.org, www.eonline.com

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I am a father of three and my wife is a registered nurse specialized in children.

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