The Cursive Handwriting Debate

…which, in my opinion, is really a variation of the argument “I learned this when I was in school and I turned out fine.”

North Carolina may be in the process of passing a bill (called “Back to the Basics”) that would mandate mastery of cursive by the 5th grade and memorization of time tables.

When Rep. Hurley introduced the bill, her stated justification to mandate cursive writing instruction included the claim  that PET scans show that your whole brain works when you’re doing cursive, but that “only half” of your brain works when you are doing manuscript, and that your brain “doesn’t work” when you are keyboarding.

Note: It would appear that supporting research on such claims is pretty slim.

What do I think?

Cursive is pretty. If students (or their parents) want them to learn it, have them practice at home. It can be fun (it can also be used as a form of discipline). From a Historian’s perspective I believe there are definite benefits in being able to read cursive (as I look lovingly at the Declaration of Independence).

But writing in cursive? Hardly anyone does that any more (professionally or personally). And there’s a reason for that: It is no longer is an answer to a problem.

At parent teacher conferences at the beginning of the year I learned that my daughter had to complete a unit on cursive writing.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because it’s part of the standards,” she said while rolling her eyes. “We’ll get all of them to write their name and call it good.” (Her teacher is AWESOMELY funny and pragmatic).

Fortunately (in this case), cursive isn’t part of the Common Core so it will cease to be an issue.

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