Cursive Writing Tips
It’s a sign of the times, and something that irritates many in The Greatest Generation. Cursive writing is gradually being phased out of public school curriculum. Forty one states have essentially dropped cursive requirements from their curricula, and Georgia could soon join that group.
Florida dropped the requirement, but reinstated it in 2006 with the expectations that third graders begin learning the script, fourth graders have legible writing, and fifth graders are fluent.
No Child Left Behind
The move is understandable in today’s test-first, time-sensitive cutback culture. Most school districts have eliminated cursive because it’s not on annual tests, and it’s not mentioned in the No Child Left Behind requirements. Some argue that keyboard skills are more important, and many adults don’t write in cursive beyond their personal signature. Like many other cultural changes, teachers are moving toward a more efficient writing style than the beauty or aesthetics of penmanship. Yes, important documents like apartment leases, mortgages and tax returns all require a legible cursive signature.
‘OMG’ and ‘LOL’
Yet experts worry that today’s students will lack motor skills and visual recognition of letters that their parents and grandparents accept as second nature. When calculators entered the mainstream, that didn’t mean schools stopped teaching math, like algebra or long division. Teachers lament that students are increasingly writing assignments in print-only, or (gasp!) in text-language, like “OMG” or “LOL.”
Several studies have concluded proficiency in cursive writing helps mental development.
E-cards vs. thank you notes
Of course, beyond the classroom, this speaks to the changing nature of our society, away from such social graces as thank you notes, or a romantic letter to a significant other. Those have given way to more modern communications like e-mail or e-cards.
If thank you notes aren’t enough to entice teenagers near you to sharpen their cursive skills, perhaps a better SAT score would. The SAT now includes a written essay section, which obviously is largely graded on content, but legible penmanship can only help the score of an essay.
While the ship has sailed on slowing technology, schools should at least keep cursive writing as part of an elective class. Students need to develop the exercise to stop and process their thoughts that only a handwritten note allows. Even a well thought out e-mail doesn’t bring the personal touch that even a short handwritten note brings.
Cursive is a skill that while not required as an everyday occurrence, is something that everyone should be capable of, both writing and reading it. It would be a shame if Generation X and Y had to explain it to their grandchildren.