Should We Write-Off Cursive?

>>cursiveMaybe there are adults out there who still use their cursive-writing skills. I don’t use them anymore, except to sign my name. Even when I write thank-you notes or birthday cards, I only print.

Now, my cursive was never beautiful – my middle school English teacher gave me Bs in spelling because my handwriting wasn’t uniform enough. I’m still bitter. Cursive has proven to be, for me at least, an antiquated and useless skill.

>>My occupational therapist friends would disagree! There’s research that supports a connection between handwriting and literacy development, cognitive development, and fine-motor skills. (There’s also debate about whether cursive is really necessary, or if >>learning to print legibly has the same benefits.

Zaner-Bloser, a for-profit company that sells handwriting instructional materials and calls cursive “a fundamental right,” put out this >>video to offer its perspective on the benefits of cursive.   Zaner-Bloser is also where >>Rep. Pat Hurley got her information when she sponsored >>a bill requiring schools to teach cursive writing and multiplication tables. The bill has already passed the NC House and is now in the Senate.

It’s not that students in North Carolina are no longer learning cursive; they are. But the skill is not included in the new Common Core Language Arts Curriculum, which North Carolina and many other states have adopted. In this age of intense standardized testing, it’s understandable that schools would not want to spend time teaching their students a skill they will likely stop using by the time they reach high school.

The success of this legislation, which Zaner-Bloser has been pushing in other states as well, raises a couple of questions, regardless of what you think about the need for cursive.

First, at a time when our state leaders seem skeptical of everything they hear from the federal government and even >>local elected officials, why are they >>so quick to go along with ideas presented by private companies?

Second, even as state leaders are considering cuts in >>teacher-assistant positions and >>teacher pay, will they increase funding to pay for occupational therapy and extra assistance for students who struggle with cursive?

And, most importantly, will a teacher be allowed to lower a student’s spelling grade because of the quality of their cursive? Because really, that’s just not fair!




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  1. Tilda Balsley

    This is a thoroughly thoughtful discussion of the cursive controversy which we desperately need more of in the current climate of every person who ever was an elementary student thinking he/she knows what ought to happen in elementary school.

  2. Kate Gladstone

    A bit of interesting “backstory” about the motives behind the drive for cursive is starting to come into the light of day. The following titles and links belong to investigator articles which reveal some of the behind-the-scenes stuff that the cursive legislation drivers haven’t been mentioning as they cheerlead for cursive —
    “Mandatory cursive writing instruction coming to an elementary school near you” —
    http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2013/05/31/mandatory-cursive-writing-instruction-coming-to-an-elementary-school-near-you/
    “Cursive writing bill linked to for-profit company” —
    http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2013/04/24/cursive-writing-bill-linked-to-zaner-bloser/
    “Senate approves cursive instruction” —
    http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/04/25/2850278/senate-approves-cursive-instruction.html
    “About that cursive bill” —
    http://www.bluenc.com/about-cursive-bill#comment-154356

    “Cursive, Foiled Again?” —
    http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/Cursive_Foiled_Again?src=soc_twtr
    “Handwriting Expert to NC and SC: Don’t mandate cursive writing” —
    http://dianeravitch.net/2013/04/19/handwriting-expert-to-nc-and-sc-dont-mandate-cursive-writing/
    “Hilarious! Cursive writing: Follow the money” —
    http://dianeravitch.net/2013/04/24/hilarious-cursive-writing-follow-the-money/
    “Representative Pat Hurley made up facts to bolster her false claims about cursive writing” —
    http://www.bluenc.com/representative-pat-hurley-made-facts-bolster-her-false-claims-about-cursive-writing
    “Back to basics: time to brush up on your cursive” —
    http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2013/03/26/back-to-basics-time-to-brush-up-on-your-cursive/
    “Cursive writing bill passes Senate education committee” —
    http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2013/04/24/cursive-writing-bill-passes-senate-education-committee/
    It’s also been interesting to watch Wednesday’s footage of the minute-and-a-half that the NC Senate Education Committee allotted (from 6:10 to 7:50 of a 20-minute committee session filmed on May 29, 2013 at http://www.wral.com/news/state/nccapitol/video/12493057/ ).
    There, we can see the Committee leader and the other Senators cut short the “no” vote that Sen. Josh Stein, an opponent of the bill, was beginning to state. (This is visible on the tape at 7:44 — right after the Committee leader asked for, and got, the “aye” votes: he then lowers his voice while saying the words “Any opposed?” and then VERY quickly utters the word “Passes” right as Senator Stein is beginning to speak. (Although the Senator’s back is to the camera, so his face cannot be seen, he is raising a hand and shifting forward in his chair — and right before that, at 7:26-7:28, he is visibly adjusting the microphone at his desk.)
    Is this as it appears — that the Senate Committee leader stopped at least one of the Committee members who was delivering a “no” vote? If not, what is it?


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