Should schools still teach cursive?

Should schools even bother teaching cursive writing anymore? This has become a hot issue in education, the Gloucester County Times reported.

New Jersey doesn’t seem to require the practice, and many schools across the state and country have dropped it from the instruction altogether. The old displays of cursive writing no longer line the top of a third-grade chalkboards. The penmanship exercises that once took up blocks of time in elementary school are now taught at the teacher’s or school’s discretion, if at all.

Instead, students have to learn how to use a keyboard. It’s becoming the standard for almost every aspect of schooling, including tests. As for handwriting, officials told the Times students only have to become legible either in manuscript or cursive. Make yourself understood in one of those, and you’ve met state requirements.

While some people argue that the ubiquity of computers renders handwriting largely irrelevant, others say cursive is essential to the learning process, the Times reported.

“There is research that learning handwriting increases both hemispheres of the brain and helps create a thought, so we’re not throwing it out,” Dr. Judith Koru, assistant superintendent of curriculum at Millville Public Schools, told the Times.

Mantua Township school district’s supervisor of curriculum, Robin Bazzel, pointed out studies supporting that. “There is a lot of research out there that says if students have fluency in handwriting, they actually have more fluency in their thought processes when they’re writing,” Bazzel said. “It’s not just the formation of the letters, it’s what they’re writing.”

Plus, learning cursive still has practical uses, according to Katherine Estep-Carey, supervisor of curriculum and instruction for the Franklin Township school district. For one thing, teachers may still write feedback in cursive, so students have to know how to read it. For another thing, students have to learn to sign their own names on documents.

And, after all, a lot of important documents have been written in cursive.

“In order for students to analyze historical documents such as our own Declaration of Independence, students must be prepared with the skill of reading cursive,” Estep-Carey said.