Time for Cursive?
By Linda Pryor, Executive Director, The Center for Mission & Academics
For many years now, screens have replaced loose leaf and notebooks, while keyboards have stepped in for pencils and pens. This progress has given us many advantages with the use of technology in schools, but it has also pushed some subjects aside…cursive writing being hit the hardest. The fact is there is only so much time in a student’s day -- how do we determine what is most important, what can be retired, and what skills or content need to be preserved?
Many school boards across the country that had put cursive on the chopping block and seen it as unnecessary are reconsidering and making moves to bring it back. Brookfield Academy, while also using technology in age appropriate ways, has always intentionally continued to set aside time in the primary and lower schools to teach handwriting - beginning at first with manuscript and then, cursive. Toward the end of Level 2, cursive writing and the formation of letters is taught and all the way through Level 5, students take time to review, practice, and formally use cursive on a day to day basis.
Decisions like this should not be made based purely on tradition or an unwillingness to change and grow. We have seen the value in teaching handwriting and there is significant research that states handwriting is key in supporting the development of reading and mathematical skills.
If handwriting isn’t learned and practiced (especially in the earlier grades), students are not given the opportunity to experience the related benefits of this skill that has been shown to increase brain activation, impact performance across all academic subjects, and even provide a foundation for higher-order skills. We want to provide this extra boost to all our students.
The field of neuroscience continues to uncover strong connections between learning cursive and developing motor skills. Brain activity during handwriting is very different from keyboarding. Brain function that can help students learn and acquire knowledge more easily may be overlooked if cursive is no longer taught. There is a wide field of study that continues to provide evidence that handwriting lessons are worth the time invested. Brookfield Academy continues to stay alert to the research and students continue to learn cursive.
A final aspect of phasing out cursive is that young people will no longer be able to read it. Can you imagine standing in front of the Declaration of Independence in the National Archives and not being able to read it…to not recognize the signatures of John Hancock, George Washington, and so many others? It may seem like a small thing, but much of our shared American history is in cursive - old letters, important documents, deeds, and wills from the past, were all written in cursive.
In so many ways, teaching a child cursive is not just one more thing to learn, it is a tool for so many important aspects of learning and a gift for enjoying the treasures of history.
Information used for this post and additional information on this topic can be found using these links: