I remember learning cursive in third grade. I had messy handwriting up until then (remarked upon specifically in my report cards!), and so while on one hand I felt like I had the opportunity to "start over" with being a tidy writer when we started our cursive writing lessons, I also felt like it was a big waste of my time. I remember arguing with my grandma that in the future everything would be typed up anyway, so why did I need to learn to write "properly"?
How prescient I was. Twenty-five years later, we are not only typing literally everything, but now we even type instead of speaking. (I know I'm not the only one who prefers to text instead of chatting on the phone.) And plenty of schools have done away with instruction in cursive writing.
To be honest, I didn't think this was a big deal. Why should kids have to learn to write a particular way? Sure, maybe it can be good for some to spend time on a skill that emphasizes hand-eye coordination, but wouldn't time spent learning how to write script be better spent learning other things? Not to mention time spent practicing for a test of how well you can write? (I remember having several of those, and practicing for hours the night before.) Perhaps drawing instruction would, in the end, be more useful.
But there's one really strong argument for keeping cursive instruction, and it has almost nothing to do with the skill of writing.
The best reason for keeping cursive? One I hadn't even thought of: It's near-impossible to read cursive if you can't write it. And, as master penman, Michael Sull told NBC Nightly News, "There are so many children today who can't even read cursive writing, let alone write it. They'll never be able to read anything that was written in the 19th century. They won't be able to read the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, or anything written during the Civil War. They're missing an entire portion of our country's history.”
As an art lover, I visit as many museums as I can, and a major part of many exhibitions, original written documents are included — not to mention online genealogical research, and even reading your own family's own old mail — all of which requires the reader to be able to decipher handwriting from times past. Reading cursive means you need to be able to write it. To understand where we have come from means being able to read it, which is why it seems that the investment of time in learning cursive is worth the end result — a direct connection to our collective past.
Do you think there's a good reason to keep instructing kids in cursive writing?
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