It wasn’t very long ago that learning all of the loops and curves of cursive was a required part of any good second or third grade writing curriculum. Students would spend many pain-staking hours practicing on worksheets and specially ruled papers, all the while being reminded that their success was dependent upon it, since cursive was what was used in the adult world.
Is there any reason to continue teaching cursive today? Some parents and teachers are now beginning to wonder. There are two sides to every argument but this one hasn’t been decided just yet. It also isn’t clear whether homeschoolers will follow suit.
On the one hand, cursive is generally easier to learn than the rigid ball-and-stick lettering of manuscript print. Once mastered, the smooth movements and blending of cursive letters makes it quicker to write, too. Because of this, writing in cursive is believed to increase learning since the focus on the process is removed and students are more able to concentrate on the content itself. Cursive writing is also thought to help reading, since blending written letters helps to reinforce the blending of common sounds and patterns found while reading.
As a matter of fact, staunch cursive supporters actually believe it should be taught first, rather than after manuscript printing, when certain writing and pencil-holding habits that are difficult to break have already been established.
On the other hand, the widespread use of computers and word-processing software has caused some to wonder if anyone needs cursive any more at all. For students in schools as well as adults in the modern workplace, handwritten work is no longer very acceptable. Anything of real importance, like a term paper, an annual report, or a letter to a teacher or client, is expected to be typed, not handwritten.
The argument from teachers is that teaching all of the new topics and meeting new standards makes it impossible to find time for cursive instruction during the day. In lieu of learning cursive, today’s students learn to use technology and conduct Internet research among other things, areas thought to be of greater value than developing ones own personal style of writing or developing an artistic signature.
Further, those in favor of pushing cursive aside believe that most people eventually develop some hybrid of manuscript and cursive altogether on their own, and don’t always stick entirely to either method anyway, no matter what level of instruction they may have had in school. Besides, it isn’t all that hard to come up with a signature, even if that remains one of the important reasons for learning cursive today.
Homeschoolers can find many ways to teach manuscript printing, cursive handwriting, and hybrids like italics and other cross-overs, in books and materials found on web sites and in school supply stores. It will be interesting to follow this debate to see whether cursive is eventually re-discovered as an art form or abolished completely in favor of typing and texting skills.
[This article originally appeared HERE.]