With ‘keyboarding’ so readily accessible, it is easier to type things than take the time to write something in cursive (or even print it) with pen on paper.
Since 2010, in schools across the country, teaching keyboarding has gradually taken the place of teaching cursive handwriting in most elementary school curricula. Once the kids learn the alphabet and how to write each block letter, that’s it for writing.
Writing Fancy is a Craft, Not A Requirement
I have an 11-year old niece, who since my sister’s unexpected death from cancer, I consider to be one of my grands. She is very creative, draws constantly, cuts out fabric, and designs all kinds of interesting multi-media art masterpieces.
She doesn’t ask me to help much with her projects as I am not really a creative talent (although I am a mean instruction-follower for some of the easy-peazy crafty things on Pinterest!). But she recently asked me to help her to learn something.
She wanted me to help her ‘write fancy,’ that is to write in cursive lettering.
Remember cursive writing? Remember penmanship? The relentless practice on those green double-lined papers. We wrote with all the flourish and creativity our teachers would allow. A required part of our schooling, we were graded, admonished and praised for it. It was important.
The Reasons to Simply Writing Your Name
Some blame the demise of cursive training on Common Core standards (isn’t everything blamed on that?). I don’t know enough about the theory of teaching to venture an opinion either way, but the reality is that most school districts across the country there is no Common Core measurement (that is, a test) for cursive proficiency. Thus, districts can find little time to put it on their students’ weekly schedule.
One strong argument posed by get-rid-of-cursive advocates is that the world is going to computer-everything. Writing on a piece of paper – whether printed or cursive’d – has become almost passe. We all know intuitively that they are right. Yet, I still think there is something lost here.
Something Gets Lost With the Demise of Cursive
Personally, I love to write in cursive. I always have. I love making it neat and precise when I have time. And when in a hurry, I love making it all scribbly (but, of course, always legible). I love how fast I can write things, without lifting my pen from the paper. I love sending notes and even snail-mailing (that is, via US Post Office) them, to boot – to express sympathy or joy or encouragement.
I know this traditional perspective seems old-fashioned. I say that even as I have readily adopted the speed and proficiency of keyboarding – on computer, on tablet, and on smartphone.
Yet, I still wonder this: how will these kids sign their name? Or will our digital footprint be their identifier? Very sci-fi futuristic, right?
SIDE NOTE: my dad only finished the 8th grade, lived to be 88 and never learned to write in cursive. His signature looked sorta like slanted block letters, confirming that the world will not end if kids learn to sign their name like my dad did (;o)
Research supports my angst a bit.
While some 2013 studies see little difference between printing a word versus scripting it, there are a myriad of other studies supporting the need for all of it.
Everyone should be ‘multilingual by hand,’ that is, being able to print, script and keyboard with the same level of proficiency. ~Dr. Virginia Berninger, Psychologist, University of Washington
And why not, I ask?
There is Still a Place for Cursive
Research confirms that some kids with impaired reading ability can actually read cursive more easily than words written in block letter on a page. The theory holds that the two writing methods – print and script – activate different brain networks and engage more cognitive resources than if using only a single approach.
Sounds like a logical argument to me – and certainly, not an old-fashioned perspective.
William Klemin, Sr. Professor of Neuroscience at Texas A&M University, in an article in Psychology Today, stated that
Cursive writing helps train the brain to integrate visual and tactile information, as well as fine motor skills.
For now, the research seems to support the need to continue; but most school curricula will probably not follow suit in teaching this soon-to-be-lost method of communication.
I, for one, will continue to write in cursive and will probably increase writing notes to friends and family using the same. And that includes my grands. That way they will at least have to learn how to read my cursive, right?
Want to be able to work with your grands on ‘writing fancy?’ Here’s some info and tools for you to help with that.
Cursive Writing A to Z – Improve Your Handwriting – YouTube video
500 sheets of practice papers – Remember these??