Here is one originally posted on August 4, 2011 about whether cursive is important in this modern age.
Is cursive writing a skill that is necessary in this digital age? Recently the State of Indiana has stopped requiring students to learn how to write in cursive. Whether it is up to the individual schools or not, the trend seems to be moving in the direction of teaching children typing skills at an earlier age, and not teaching how to write in cursive.
"Neuroimaging scans of children who wrote versus those who looked at text showed brain activity in the writing group akin to an adult's. The writing group also showed better memory and letter recognition."
I am not surprised at the new move of public schools. I have read where some homeschoolers feel the same way. In fact, I am sure that I am quite old fashioned in my belief that learning cursive has a lot of merit. I believe it is important... even if it is old-fashioned or unpopular.
I haven't told my daughter that the public schools aren't requiring her to write in cursive. In our home, we plan to learn and continue to practice the skill. Laura does dictation. She will be learning to type, as that is also a necessary skill, but I don't believe that typing has the same power in the brain as writing something out by hand. This has been proven to me in our schooling through the use of dictation. In dictation, Laura studies a few sentences or a paragraph from a piece of quality literature. Then, it is dictated to her. She must write the piece perfectly or redo it. In a few short months I have watched her writing, spelling, vocabulary, and memory recall all improve drastically. I don't think I would have seen the improvement if Laura had been typing the same material.
In these modern times children will be required to learn how to use a computer and maintain the necessary skills to do their work efficiently on that computer. Typing is much faster and legible than handwriting. When a person types, they can keep up with their thoughts much quicker than if they were writing. I wonder, though, if what we are losing is as beneficial as what we are gaining.
Hands-on work is so helpful to many students. When I am studying, I love to take notes. I do this by writing down what I want to remember and the thoughts I have about the subject. The act and process of writing, whether it is copying or even my own material, stays with me much longer than if I was typing the material.
There was a time where possessing beautiful handwriting was a sign of a quality education. Does that mean that someone who has not so neat handwriting is less educated or less intelligent? Well... not if the cliche about doctors' handwriting has any truth to it. Beautiful handwriting is just that... a skill. However, it also plays such an important part in learning that it shouldn't be easily cast aside for typing. Yes, it is a skill that is harder for some than for others. As a mother of two left-handed children, I have seen their left hands covered with pencil or pen as they struggle to learn this skill. Even now, my 18 year old leftie has an odd mixture of cursive and print as her writing. However, she did learn both and can type quite successfully.
There was a time when cursive was taught even before printing. Some homeschool curricula even still leave that option open. ABeka Book offers a print and cursive selection for 4 year olds. In an article on the ABeka website concerning learning cursive in Kindergarten, the following reasoning was offered:
"Before the 1940s, schools across the nation took this approach and, as a result, most American school children developed beautiful handwriting. Ball-and-stick manuscript came about as part of progressive education reforms in the 1940s. The change was made primarily to help children recognize the letters in the “Dick and Jane” look-say readers. By starting with cursive writing rather than manuscript printing, we help the child develop good writing habits from the very beginning. This means that habits acquired from manuscript printing do not need to be unlearned." - A Beka Book Cursive Writing in Kindergarten
The argument against cursive is that is just isn't used as much today. Schools have tough curriculum choices to make with limited time and budgets. Learning cursive takes a lot of time. Typing uses a different sort of motor skills. Teaching a child typing instead of typing and cursive saves a lot of time. Typing can be taught with less one on one instruction, using computer programs. Cursive writing takes a lot more individual attention to a child.
I think we are replacing foundational skills for easier ones. After all, we don't need to teach children to write because they can just type. But, if we take that further, we can find that this could lead to other areas of compromise. We don't need to teach children how to spell because computers have spell check. We don't need to teach children how to read because we have computers and machines that will read stories to them. We don't need to teach children math skills, we only need to teach them how to use computers and calculators. We don't need to teach children how to think for themselves, we can tell them what to believe.
I am exaggerating in an effort to make a point. I love to write in cursive. A couple of my daughters would rather print. However, they know how to do both. They also type quickly. They can also read the original Declaration of Independence, in the original cursive. The 11 year old might not understand every concept, but she can read it and look up the meanings. Without cursive, she would have to read a copy that was typed out. Doesn't that mean the allure of the time is gone?
I have read some of the writings of those from as little as 100 years ago. Much of their correspondence and writings were done by hand... in cursive. Not only is it beautiful, but I read the words of those that went through a whole different time in their original writing, and I feel connected to them somehow. A type-written version may be more legible, but the idea of knowing someone's hand put those words to paper during a time in the past brings about a connection to that person and time. Like a picture, I can see that person a little more clearly. Handwriting is personal. It isn't cold like type. It is full of personality, like a person. It is a part of them, a legacy.
I don't want that lost for my children. Not only do I want them to have the ability to read the past, but also to have their own legacy. In the scrapbooks I have for my children are yearly samples of their writing. I can see how they grew and changed by their writing just as much as by their pictures. I can see the rough scrawl of Kindergarten, so uncertain and uneven, as it matures into the beautiful, individual writing of a young adult. I can tell you which of my children have similar writing to me or their father, and which ones have their own style. To see that lost for typewritten pages or only block lettering means losing something that my child could have possessed and passed down.