The Herald of Everett, Washington
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up | Manage  Green editions icon Green editions

Calendar

Splash! Summer guide

HeraldNet Headlines
HeraldNet Newsletter Delivered to your inbox each week.
Published: Saturday, September 21, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Commentary / Education


Schools no longer swear by cursive writing

The following editorial appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Sept. 4:
For all the new things that schools will be called on to teach under the soon-to-be-implemented Common Core curriculum standards, it's a skill that has been omitted that is causing controversy: cursive writing. Good old script penmanship isn't part of the standards, which have been adopted by 45 states. It's not forbidden or discouraged, but Common Core focuses on analytical and computer-based skills rather than the long hours of practice required to link letters in a flowing style. Testing, note-taking and writing for academia and business are increasingly accomplished via keyboard, not pencil or pen and legal pad.
Several states have kept requirements for cursive instruction in place, but many others appear ready for its demise. The handwriting may be on the wall.
That's OK. States and schools shouldn't cling to cursive based on the romantic idea that it's a tradition, an art form or a basic skill whose disappearance would be a cultural tragedy. Of course, everyone needs to be able to write without computers, but longhand printing generally works fine. Many of today's young adults, even though they were taught cursive, have abandoned it in favor of printing. Print is clearer and easier to read than script. For many, it's easier to write and just about as fast.
Some educators claim that cursive writing plays a role in brain and overall academic development, but others disagree and say what the studies actually show is that any form of hand lettering, including print, engages more of the brain than keyboarding does.
When society adds new skills and new knowledge to the list of things public schools teach, some other items have to come off the list. Otherwise, the result is a curriculum that is a mile wide and an inch deep, as California's has famously been. Cursive might be one skill that can be painlessly dropped to make way for new ones.
Because so many adults still communicate in cursive, perhaps what's needed is a transition period during which students still learn to read it -- that can be taught relatively quickly -- but no longer go through the laborious and painstaking process of learning to write it.
This isn't a popular notion with many parents. We all tend to think of what we learned in school as "basic" to an educated populace. How can young people do without it? Easily, as they already are proving. As easily as replacing the old John Hancock with a fingerprint scan.

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus
digital subscription promo

Subscribe now

Unlimited digital access starting at 99 cents, or included with any print subscription.

Herald Editorial Board

Peter Jackson, Opinion Editor: pjackson@heraldnet.com (@PeterJHerald)

Carol MacPherson, Editorial Writer: cmacpherson@heraldnet.com

Neal Pattison, Executive Editor: npattison@heraldnet.com

Jon Bauer, News Editor/Content Development: jbauer@heraldnet.com

Josh O'Connor, Publisher: joconnor@heraldnet.com

Have your say

Feel strongly about something? Share it with the community by writing a letter to the editor. Send letters by e-mail to letters@heraldnet.com, by fax to 425-339-3458 or mail to The Herald - Letters, P.O. Box 930, Everett, WA 98206. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We'll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 250 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it. If your letter is published, please wait 30 days before submitting another. Have a question about letters? Contact Carol MacPherson at cmacpherson@heraldnet.com or 425-339-3472.

HeraldNet highlights

Making a strong impression
Making a strong impression: Scruggs eager to finally make an impact with Seahawks
Dark secret in Darrington
Dark secret in Darrington: True-crime novel brings serial killer to light
He's got soul
He's got soul: Star shines in James Brown biopic
'Guardians' gets it right
'Guardians' gets it right: Chris Pratt plays it perfectly as an oddball space hero