Last year, when I was teaching third grade, we were reading a Scholastic News magazine, and one of the articles brought up the question about whether or not cursive handwriting should be taught anymore. The article expressed the opinions of two students; one felt it should be taught and the other thought it should not. This sparked a discussion with the students in my class because I did teach cursive. When I polled my class about their opinions, all but one student said that they should still learn how to write in cursive.
When people ask if I think cursive is still worthwhile to teach in schools, I wholeheartedly believe it is. Beyond the practical reasons for teaching cursive to students, like being able to read historical documents and sign their names, it has many other benefits. First, it is a rite of passage for many children. Some of my students expressed that they could not wait until they learned because their siblings, cousins, friends, etc. did. In addition, once they know the basic strokes, students can add “flair” to their handwriting, creating a sense of individuality by creating their own style of writing. If you look at samples of cursive writing, they are not exactly the same. It almost becomes like a fingerprint, and much more difficult to forge than print. Moreover, writing cursive taps into the right side of the brain, which is responsible for creativity, because cursive is an art form; the strokes are essentially a form of drawing.
While there are arguments that cursive is no longer useful, I still see the importance of this skill. Some schools feel teaching cursive is obsolete, wasting time that can be used in other core subjects since the Common Core Standards do not require cursive instruction. However, though many schools have removed it from the curriculum, they are starting to rethink the decision. This comes after backlash from educators, parents, and lawmakers who feel it is a necessary skill given the above-mentioned benefits. Many teachers still incorporate cursive into their instruction even though it is not “required.” Essentially, they (and I) feel ten minutes per day is not too much to ask for a life-long skill that provides many benefits.
By Jennifer Schmidt
Mrs. Schmidt is the Director of Curriculum and Instruction.