"Our children won't be able to read the Declaration of
Independence!" That is one of the standard arguments from the pro-cursive
team, an argument that pops up from time to time and one I just heard from my
daughter's fourth-grade teacher.
At her school, they announced that
they would be putting extra emphasis on cursive at a time when most schools
nationwide are doing the opposite, cutting out cursive all together. While many
of my friends (online and off) argue that it is a dying form of penmanship, one
that isn't currently supported by the Common Core and a form of communication
that should go the way of dinosaurs and acid wash jeans, I'm all for keeping up
with the old school way of writing.
When I'm taking furious freehand notes, when I am penning a get well soon card
or a thoughtful note on a birthday card, I always use cursive. Printing not
only makes my hand tense up but also takes far more time for each letter separately
instead of letting them flow together like a beautiful stream of thoughts. And
don't even get me started on the impersonal touch a type written birthday card
When I was in grade school, I loved learning and fine-tuning
my cursive skills. I'd practice anytime I could. I was so enamored with the
form that I actually wanted to change my middle name to start with an L just so
I could have that visceral satisfaction of the letter's whoosh whenever I
signed my name. In third grade, for approximately six months, I was Sunny Lee.
My daughter is having the same reaction as I did (although she hasn't brought
up adding a new middle name just for the sake of penmanship—yet). She loves
the way the ink flows from the pen when writing. She likes the lingering,
relaxing vibe that cursive makes her feel.
But it's not just that kids won't be able to read the Declaration of Independence or letters from their grandma.
And, thanks to her school, she feels
that it is making her smarter.
When they began to teach her class cursive in second grade, the teachers explained to them the benefits, including one that really
stuck with her: They shared a study about how the brain lights up when writing with
pen to paper rather than using a keyboard and that it leads to more creative
With the current Common Core State Standards, not only is cursive not
taught but handwriting is not covered at all after second grade.
you stop teaching handwriting in the second grade, you're going to have a
generation of people who write like second graders," says the founder of Handwriting
Without Tears (a company that focuses on training cursive).
it's not just that kids won't be able to read the Declaration of Independence
or letters from their grandma. "Without it [cursive handwriting] you lose
the sense of having your thought process through your hand movements to create
your language and thoughts to someone else," says Michael Sull, a master
penman and expert on handwriting. "There is a great loss in the progress
that could be made with children fostering their motor skill development,
literacy training and concepts of communication."