Indiana Public Schools Do Away With Cursive Writing

Penmanship. Script handwriting. Cursive writing. However it's referred to, the fact remains that teaching the subject is all but vanishing from public schools across the country, with Indiana being the most recent state to drop it from state curricula. Now that most written communication is typed on keyboards, many feel the need to learn cursive writing is gone forever. But is it?

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Common Core Standards

The main reason for the removal of cursive writing is simply the adoption of new national standards presented in 2010. The new Common Core Standards for English do not, as the old standards did, require cursive writing. Also, tests given to rate schools under the No Child Left Behind law do not assess cursive writing. And no assessment seems to lead, in many cases, to a lack of importance, and the lack of importance to total disregard.

The Keyboard is Mightier Than the Pen

It's hard to argue that most people now, with computers and texting, use a keyboard far more than a pen. So all the schools are doing, for the most part, is replacing cursive writing with keyboard proficiency, a move some feel will better prepare students for the future. But it is interesting to note that a handwritten essay is still required for those taking the SAT or Advanced Placement exams. And beyond the classroom, some employers have stated that cursive is still important in the workplace. So is the end of cursive really the wave of the future?

Consider the fact that the invention of the typewriter did not make handwriting obsolete. So why, then, should the keyboard be considered the death knell for what many believe to be a crucial skill? If for nothing more than learning to sign their own names or to read the handwriting of others, many parents and even some school officials seem to think that teaching cursive writing should still have a place in our educational system.

Cursive Not a Dying Art

If some parents don't totally object to the dropping of cursive writing, they might at least have mixed feelings as they weigh both sides of the issue. Some have spoken out about the value of handwriting. An Atlanta mother told ABC News in February 2011 regarding her son having learned to write in cursive: 'I feel like it has helped him with his fine motor skills and made him more graceful.' The woman's claims can be backed up: from a scientific standpoint, handwriting can play a large role in letter recognition. Some studies also show that handwriting can play an important role in reading skills.

The Power to Choose

States do have the option to keep cursive writing in their curricula. Some, like California and Massachusetts, have done so. But most of the 41 states adopting the new standards have elected to do as Indiana has most recently chosen to do. So cursive writing, or at least the teaching of it, seems to have gone the way of diagramming sentences and home economics. And in concluding this article, I'm doing what many children someday may not be able to do: signing off.

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