Recently I read an article about a young woman who is making her living by helping people who were never taught cursive writing. In particular, she helps them learn how to have a respectable signature!
In 2010, Common Core removed the teaching of cursive writing from their standards for English language, arts and mathematics in grades 1 through 12. While that decision was not mandatory, many states removed the teaching of cursive writing from their curriculums, causing some states to stop teaching cursive. It was not long, however, before teaching cursive began a comeback.
Kansas is among those states: "The Kansas Department of Education believes that cursive handwriting as a student skill still holds an important place in the instructional practice of every school's curriculum and can be integrated in multiple content areas. Research supports the role that handwriting instruction plays in the cognitive development of children and this activity is even more important in an increasingly digital environment. The Board expects educators to insure that all students can write legibly in cursive and comprehend text written in this manner."
What brought this reversal to my attention was the receipt of thank you notes from local 4th grade students who attended a program at Fort Hays State University that we helped support. Most of those students were not comfortable writing cursive yet, but their neat printing was a pleasant surprise, as were the hand written thank you notes!
One of the reasons given for continuing to teach cursive writing is that many of the treasured documents of our American history are written in cursive. Researchers without training in reading and writing cursive would have lost the ability to read those documents without translation to print. In addition, genealogy research, less likely to have been translated to text, would be difficult to read.
However, there are other benefits to teaching cursive writing, and by January of 2023, twenty-one states required cursive instruction. Among the benefits of teaching cursive are:
1. Cursive promotes a better understanding of words.
2. With cursive, the barrier between thought and action is minimal.
3. Different neurological pathways open in the brain than what occurs with typing.
4. Information is better retained when written in cursive.
5. Cursive helps develop motor skills.
6. Students using Cursive are more likely to retain proper spelling.
I was very disappointed when teaching cursive writing was dropped, but my objection had more to do with esthetics than anything else. I observed that printed correspondence was unlikely to show much effort to make the correspondence attractive. Thank you notes are always appreciated, but those thank you notes received during the time teaching cursive was neglected showed little attention to printing neatly or arranging the printing attractively on the page. If the thank you notes received recently from the 4th graders are any example, writing neatly seems once again to be emphasized. One of the students had already mastered an attractive cursive penmanship, but all of the students had made an effort to write neatly. The thank you notes were a pleasant surprise, and we enjoyed sharing their appreciation for a day at FHSU, meeting illustrators and learning about how books are created!