Thursday, March 12, 2015

Should we be teaching cursive in schools?

The debate is that maybe cursive writing is a thing of the past and we should not be teaching it. A lot of teachers and educators can't seem to let go, and think we should be teaching it. Of course we all know it is a thing of the past. With email being the number one way of communicating, writing letters has indeed become a thing of the past. But that's not really related to education, is it?

So let's take a look at the educational side. In years past, an elementary student would need to start writing stories and essays using cursive. It was a more formal way of writing. Then, around junior high, one needed to type their research papers and essays. Of course we still mostly wrote a rough draft using pen or pencil. But were we forced at that time to do it in cursive? No. Our final paper must have been typed.

That means that even in days gone by, at least the last 50 years, school-age students were not turning in essays and research reports using cursive.

We now are at a stage where nobody has a need for it. Everything revolves around computer, tablet, or smartphone keypads. No writing of any kind is required. Even at a very early age. Of course some sort of writing is needed. We scribble notes, maybe send cards, and young kids in elementary school still need some sort of writing.

But is cursive handwriting really needed? Not today. I can't say the last time I saw a cursive note written. We jot things down, printing things with little thought.

Before some teachers go bonkers with no cursive, they must come to grips with the fact that it is a thing of the past. If teachers thought about the past, they might be more readily convinced that cursive is indeed, a thing of the past. Here are some of the things that you might not have thought of.

Girls were taught how important it was to sew and do needlepoint. I doubt if any teacher would want to require that. Students used slate and chalk. We certainly do not want to go back to that. In fact, educators are screaming to use online textbooks! Colleges, and some high schools, are doing many classes online.

When I was a kid, using a slide rule was a needed skill. I challenge anyone today to tell kids that they need to know how to use a slide rule.

We do not actually write the way we did even 25 years ago. Of course we need to have kids work on things in school that are needed. We have changed many things. There really is no need for a child to struggle with mastering cursive. Perhaps to appease some teachers, kids could get a quick lesson, but not be required to use it.

It's just a fact that adults do not use cursive. There is no reason to require it in school. 60 years ago, Latin was required. Who today would want to force their students to learn Latin? We need to let go.

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