Cursive Handwriting: Should We Still Be Teaching It In School?

Cursive handwriting could soon be a thing of the past, but a few states are trying to hold on to the skill once central to the early childhood curriculum.

In the Common Core standards, a new curriculum designed to meet stricter international learning guidelines, cursive handwriting was dropped. But now, at least seven of the 45 states that adopted the Common Core standards are aiming to bring penmanship back to the classroom.

The leaders who developed the curriculum said cursive handwriting is becoming an obsolete skill, given that children today are growing up using computers and even handheld devices.

“If you just stop and think for a second about what are the sorts of skills that people are likely to be using in the future, it’s much more likely that keyboarding will help students succeed in careers and in school than it is that cursive will,” Morgan Polikoff, an assistant professor of K-12 policy and leadership at the University of Southern California, told The Associated Press.

But proponents of cursive handwriting say there is more to it.

“Modern research indicates that more areas of the human brain are engaged when children use cursive handwriting than when they keyboard,” Idaho state Rep. Linden Bateman told the Associated Press. “It’s beyond belief to me that states have allowed cursive to slip from the standards.”

Keith Wagstaff, a writer for The Week, thinks schools should insert simple computer programming classes into the curriculum where cursive handwriting instruction once was.

He writes:

“An hour spent teaching cursive is an hour spent not teaching something that will actually be relevant to children’s lives — like computer education, a subject that is severely under-served in today’s schools. Think about an eight-year-old’s future: What is his or her future boss going to be more impressed by, the ability to write cursive or to code?”

But at least a handful of states are trying to keep cursive handwriting as part of early childhood instruction. Seven states — California, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Utah — have now filed legislation to implement penmanship into the curriculum for good.

(Image Via Karen Roach | Shutterstock.com)