Is there a point to learning cursive?

Published: Friday, April 29 2011 2:32 p.m. MDT

Cursive may be a dying art form.

According to an article printed in The New York Times this week, many schools are spending less time teaching handwriting in general, let alone cursive. Not only do some say they feel it is not as important in today's world, other schools say with everything else they need to teach students so they will do well on standardized tests, handwriting is not as big a focus.

"Schools today, we say we're preparing our kids for the 21st century," one New York principal told The New York Times. "Is cursive really a 21st-century skill?"

One historian of technology wrote in the Atlantic on Thursday that cursive is an important art form and that teachers need to think of a new way to teach cursive to the tech-savvy generation.

He quotes a neurologist and author in his post, which says that practicing handwriting "stimulate(s) brain activity, lead(s) to increased language fluency, and aid(s) in the development of important knowledge."

Some are worried that the Common Core State Standards curriculum will not include cursive. Forty-two states have adopted the standards so far, including Utah.

Other school districts see the value in cursive. The Denver Post reported last month that a charter school in Colorado Springs is passionate about teaching cursive. The paper even called the assistant principal at the school "the ardent keeper of cursives' flickering flame."

"(She) acknowledges the importance of technology but maintains that sometimes cursive offers the most effective way to communicate — for instance, on a job application that asks you to put your thoughts into writing. On paper."

More than 220 people have commented on The New York Times article about cursive. Some said students' handwriting in general is terrible because of the lack of focus on handwriting and on cursive. But many people who commented said they never use cursive and don't think it is necessary.

"If someone wants to make the argument that we need to ensure students write in two forms of the same language at the cost of literacy, mathematics, critical thinking, technology skills, and citizenship, go ahead," said Matt Newark. "Personally, I'd much rather my 8th grade students come to me with a working understanding of the Constitution than the ability to read it in its original text."

EMAIL: slenz@desnews.com

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