States split on need for instruction in cursive
LOS ANGELES — The pen may not be as mighty as the keyboard these days, but California and a handful of states are not giving up on handwriting entirely.
Bucking a growing trend of eliminating cursive from elementary school curriculums or making it optional, California is among the states keeping longhand as a third-grade staple.
The state's posture on penmanship is not likely to undercut its place at the leading edge of technology, but it has teachers and students divided over the value of learning flowing script and looping signatures in an age of touchpads and mobile devices.
Some see it as a waste of time, an anachronism in a digitized society where even signatures are electronic, but others see it as necessary so kids can hone fine motor skills, reinforce literacy and develop their own stamp of identity.
The debate arises as 45 states move toward adopting national curriculum guidelines in 2014 for English and math that don't include cursive handwriting, but require proficiency in computer keyboarding by the time pupils exit elementary school.
Several states, including California, Georgia and Massachusetts, have added a cursive requirement to the national standards, while most others, such as Indiana, Illinois and Hawaii, have left it as optional for school districts. Some states, like Utah, are studying the issue.
Whether it's required or not, cursive is fast becoming a lost art as schools increasingly replace pen and paper with classroom computers and instruction is increasingly geared to academic subjects that are tested on standardized exams. Even the standardized tests are on track to be administered via computer within three years.
Experts say manuscript, or printing, may be sufficient when it comes to handwriting in the future.
“Do you really need to learn two different scripts?” asked Steve Graham, education professor at Arizona State University who has studied handwriting instruction. “There will be plenty of kids who don't learn cursive. The more important skill now is typing.”
Cursive still has many proponents who say it benefits youngsters' brains, coordination and motor skills, as well as connects them to the past, whether to handwritten historical documents like the Constitution or to their parents' and grandparents' letters.
Longhand is also a symbol of personality, even more so in an era of uniform emails and texting, they say.
“I think it's part of your identity and part of your self-esteem,” said Eldra Avery, who teaches language and composition at San Luis Obispo High School. “There's something really special and personal about a cursive letter.”
Avery also has a practical reason for pushing cursive: speed. She makes her 11th-grade students relearn longhand simply so they will be able to complete their advancement placement exams. Most students print.
“They have to write three essays in two hours. They need that speed,” she said. “Most of them learned cursive in second grade and forgot about it. Their penmanship is deplorable.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Two killed when F-16, small plane crash; jet pilot safe
- Subway suspends ties with spokesman Fogle after raid at home
- Feds could be softening in Snowden case
- Cosby accusers feel vindicated by drugging admission; some Hollywood friends reserve judgment
- 2 killed in midair collision over South Carolina when fighter jet slams into Cessna
- At least 5 kids got wrong immunizations at New Jersey clinic
- Appeals court upholds ban on federal contractors’ donations
- Senators quiz military chiefs, criticize U.S. fight against Islamic State
- Army plans to cut 40,000 soldiers in 2 years
- ‘Billionaires’ Beach’ in Calif. opens to the public
- S.C. Senate gives final OK to Confederate flag removal