A very informative and excellent article in the Dallas Morning News on (Wednesday April 5, 2017). “Flipping the Script To combat illegibility, cursive making a comeback”
Dear teacher, thank you for teaching me how to write in cursive.
Yes, you read that correctly: One of the oldest human technologies — handwriting — is mounting a comeback.
Once a fixture in American classrooms, the ancient art of looping letters together began falling out of favor decades ago. It was nearly wiped out by the advent of modern technology, which made penmanship a decreasing classroom priority.
Cursive writing took another blow when most states adopted Common Core curriculum standards, which no longer required teaching it in public schools. Why? Because it takes precious time away from other subjects deemed more crucial in a world ruled by computers, laptops and smartphones.
Slowly but surely, however, penmanship is returning. Two states, Alabama and Louisiana, passed laws last year mandating that cursive writing be taught in public schools. That brings the total to at least 14 states, including Texas, that require proficiency in cursive writing.
Last fall, the nation’s largest public school system, up in New York City, rekindled the teaching of cursive writing. How the Big Apple got back on the bandwagon is intriguing, a lesson in both history and perseverance.
A New York state lawmaker, Nicole Malliotakis, was dumbfounded at a teenager’s inability to sign his name at a voter registration event. Instead, the 18-year-old printed his John Hancock in block letters. “That is my signature,” he said. “I never learned script.”
The Staten Island Republican took her concerns to education officials, who, wisely, charted a new course.
New York Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina dished out a handbook on teaching cursive and urged principals to use it. The manuals cite research “suggesting that fluent cursive helps students master writing tasks such as spelling and sentence construction because they don’t have to think as much about forming letters.”
Other research suggests learning to read and write in cursive can boost performance in other areas, too.
Yet, while researchers continue to debate cognitive and spill-over benefits from learning cursive, we were struck by a powerful, if plaintive, observation from Malliotakis: Students who aren’t trained in cursive won’t be able to readily digest many original historical documents.
“If an American student cannot read the Declaration of Independence, that is sad,” Malliotakis said.
We agree, although we also acknowledge that the hand-wringing over handwriting is overwrought in one respect: Few experts doubt that cursive writing will ever vanish; it’s simply too ingrained in our culture.
But what will it look like?
“When we don’t teach penmanship, the result is an ugly, unaesthetic and illegible script,” Steven Roger Fischer, a script expert and author of A History of Writing, once wrote in an article for Slate. “Ugliness is unimportant. Aesthetics are unimportant to many people. But illegibility defeats the purpose of writing. There must be a standard.”
So let it be written. And let it be done, please … in the classroom.
SBOE, District 12