Here’s what I can tell you: The honor code was the hardest part of the whole test (PSAT) . That’s because it had to be written in cursive. The minute the teacher instructed the test-takers to write the one-sentence honor statement in cursive, audible gasps broke out in the room. Cursive? Most students my age have only encountered this foreign language in letters from grandma. Even then, kids take one look and hand the postcard to their parents for translation help.
Those are the words of Miss Emily Freeman. She wrote them in a recent Wall Street Journal article. Emily is a junior at Calvary Baptist Day School in Winston-Salem, NC. Her words tell the story of what we are doing to our students as fewer schools teach cursive writing. Yes, I know the legislature approved a bill requiring “that public schools provide instruction in cursive writing.” They did the same for the teaching of multiplication tables. However we all know passing a law doesn’t make the problem go away. On the contrary, 41 states currently do not require that students learn to read and write in cursive. Common Core’s emphasis on keyboarding and the fact that cursive will not be included on any testing may mean the problem may very well get worse.
But do students really need cursive writing? What’s the big deal if students can write? Paula Bolyard explores that question in great article about just what is lost if we stop teaching cursive. The debate about cursive is far from over. Neurologists and psychologists have long touted the benefits to learning (see here and here).
The truth is when we lose our ability to write and read in cursive we lose much of our ability to communicate; with others, and our past. When is that ever a good thing?