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Cursive Instruction in Schools: Necessary or Nostalgic?

Cursive Instruction in Schools: Necessary or Nostalgic?

As technology continues to push the need for handwriting instruction to the wayside, the battle continues to include cursive instruction in classrooms.

The most recent state to mandate cursive instruction in schools is Arkansas. "Act 160 of 2015 requires that students be taught cursive writing by the end of third grade," according to an article on Hola-Arkansas.com.

Kim Hendren, the state Republican who helped introduce the law, "said the inspiration to introduce the measure came from his granddaughter and wife. He [said] his granddaughter is an eighth-grader... who takes part in many school activities. However, her grandmother learned 'she didn't know how to sign her name in cursive,'"the article said.

Indeed, leaving cursive out of common core standards has become a debated issue for some parents, teachers, and lawmakers alike. However, is it necessary, or is it nostalgic?

"Is handwriting, particularly cursive, really necessary in the digital age? Increasingly, the answer is not really. Common Core standards issued in 2010 do not include any requirements for handwriting instruction. Even education experts who would like to see more classroom time devoted to writing question whether every student still needs to be taught two entirely different styles of handwriting," according to an article on the Bostonglobe.om

According to the article, the battle for cursive largely exists in the political sphere and lawmakers are mostly the ones fighting to save it.

"Some advocates combine a cultural argument with a cognitive one. 'In addition to being able to read our Founding Fathers’ documents, it activates the left side of the brain,' said Nancy Stiles, the Republican state senator from New Hampshire who introduced the recent cursive bill there. 'Youth are into technology and they use it for everything, but in my mind they still need to learn how to connect the letters.'"

On the other end of the spectrum, the article claims some educators and handwriting experts alike find that fighting for cursive instruction is useless. "'Legislators do some very crazy things, but this one seems to me to be ludicrous,' said Steve Graham, an education professor at Arizona State University. 'It’s an antiquated and outdated view of the world.' Graham argues that while composition instruction is crucial and neglected, the method used to produce that writing is much less important.

Many people who favor instruction of cursive see it as a way for children to learn the beauty behind the writing to avoid losing its uniqueness to type. But the article argues that "the decline of handwriting doesn’t mean the future will inevitably be bland and conformist. We have plenty of ways to express personality through a keyboard: through fonts, emoji, and the seemingly endless mutability of language itself."

Read more here and comment below. Are there benefits to cursive that this article hasn't covered? Share your thoughts.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

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