How’s your cursive?
Mine was never very good – and it’s sliding toward terrible.
I notice this most each December when I sit down and send some handwritten notes to relatives who don’t use email. The unlucky recipients might prefer the mercy of a typed card.
Good handwriting used to be considered an essential mark of education and culture – even “character”.
No longer. Cursive is on a precipitous decline in North America. The Wall Street Journal recently reported “The New Script for Teaching Handwriting is No Script at All“.
Nearly all U.S. states have adopted something called Common Core Standards, which do not require teaching cursive writing. Of course, the option to teach cursive may still exist. But with teachers hard-pressed to cover required content, anything considered a frill is often lost.
It’s a similar story in Canada. As Bruce Deachman reports for the Ottawa Citizen, a decade ago Ontario curriculum standards had students learning cursive in grade 3 and using it by grade 4. And today?
“The students at my school are expected to know how to read it,” said one Ottawa elementary teacher who asked to remain anonymous, “but it’s up to the individual teacher to decide whether they teach and practise it.”
Does it matter? Opinions vary. In the 1800’s something called copperplate was held up as the standard of good penmanship. That’s gone and not much missed. If cursive went they same way would we miss it any more than copperplate? After all, the ability to think, write and communicate effectively is the main thing. How that happens is secondary (says one school of thought). The “how” always evolves over time – from clay tablets to quill and ink, steel nib, fountain pen, ball point, typewriter, computer keyboard, etc.
Some make the case that cursive writing builds fine motor skills, which contributes to brain function and basic learning in ways that are seriously underappreciated.
Literacy comes in different stages. Even after I learned to read plain text, for a few more years cursive was a secret/higher writing code for big kids and grown-ups. Imagine the day (coming soon or already here?) when cursive becomes a distinct generational code, only used and understood by those born in the last century.
Perhaps the wisest among us will master as much as possible: print, cursive, keyboards, computers, smart phones, the next hot thing after that and beyond. (I must be unwise. I lag far behind!)
The way this is trending, though, those without cursive skills won’t think they are missing much.
Out of curiosity, is cursive still taught in your local schools? Do you think cursive is worth preserving?