Seven States Fighting To Keep Cursive Writing in the Classroom

Some states that adopted Common Core educational standards are bothered that a staple of classical education will be affected — they’re fighting to keep cursive writing in classrooms. As people increase the use of computers and smartphone for communication, and as the new Common Core Standards require computing skills for assessment, many schools have dropped penmanship classes.

However, seven states — California, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Utah — want their schools to keep the cursive in classrooms, writes Julie Carr Smyth of The Associated Press.

Linden Bateman, a 72-year-old state representative from Idaho, said cursive conveys intelligence and grace, engages creativity and builds brain cells.

“Modern research indicates that more areas of the human brain are engaged when children use cursive handwriting than when they keyboard,” said Bateman, who handwrites 125 ornate letters each year. “We’re not thinking this through. It’s beyond belief to me that states have allowed cursive to slip from the standards.”

The Common Core is a set of preferred K-12 education benchmarks for public schools. The Standards omit cursive for a host of reasons, including an increasing need for children in a digital-heavy age to master computer keyboarding and evidence that even most adults use some hybrid of classic cursive and print in everyday life.

“If you just stop and think for a second about what are the sorts of skills that people are likely to be using in the future, it’s much more likely that keyboarding will help students succeed in careers and in school than it is that cursive will,” said Morgan Polikoff, an assistant professor of K-12 policy and leadership at the University of Southern California.

Advocates for cursive cite recent brain science that indicates the fluid motion employed when writing script enhances hand-eye coordination and develops fine motor skills, in turn promoting reading, writing and cognition skills.

Advocates also say that scholars of the future will lose the ability to interpret valuable cultural resources if they can’t read cursive.

“The Constitution of the United States is written in cursive. Think about that,” Bateman said.

New research shows that some 95% of teens use the Internet regularly, and the percentage using smartphones to go online has grown from 23% in 2011 to 37% today. A 2012 Pew report found the volume of text messages among teens rose from 50 a day on average in 2009 to 60 a day on average two years later.

Kristen Purcell, associate director for research at Pew’s Internet & American Life Project, said researchers found it surprising — given those results — that 94 percent of the 2,462 Advanced Placement and National Writing Project surveyed still said they “encourage their students to do at least some of their writing by hand.”

According to Purcell, teachers gave two primary reasons for asking students to do some handwriting practice. Most standardized tests are still in paper-and-pencil format and teachers believed having students write by hand helped them slow down their thinking, encouraging deeper and fuller thinking during the writing process.