Saturday, July 26, 2014

Cursive writing to be mandated in school. Why?

I am a conservative, both the socially and economically. I think we should be cautious in jettisoning practices and institutions that have served us well for the popular or trendy of the moment. We should respect inherited wisdom and not lightly dismiss it.  However, I am not the type of conservative who would refusees to embrace technological change and progress.  With the advent of electricity, I would not have clung to my kerosene lamp. I would not have refused to drive a car and said the horse and buggy was good enough.

Recently, responding to pressure from the State Legislature, the Tennessee State Board of Education issued a policy that will require cursive writing be taught in grades two through four.  Cursive handwriting is a dying art but a measure sponsored by Rep. Sheila Butts required all public school students in Tennessee to learn how to read and write in cursive.

There is lot of mandated curriculum now and as knowledge multiplies and instruction time is at a premium we do not need to be adding curriculum out of nostalgia. I want children to know science, mathematics and technology so we can have a workforce that can compete in the world and so America's standard of living does not continue to fall. I want students to know our history and understand our form of government so we do not lose our democracy. I want them to know geography and to have an appreciation of great literature.  I want them to have recess to let off steam so fewer of them will be on ADHS drugs. There is lot of things I think should be mandated, but cursive writing?

One of the arguments Butts made in support of her effort to mandate cursive writing is that children should be able to read the Bill of Rights in its original form. Why?  Does she think liberals are going to change the words of the Bill of Rights and we will not know it unless we can read the original?  Is it not just as meaningful in print as in hard-to read cursive.  I have seen the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence in cursive, but I do not think I have ever actually read them in cursive. If my understanding of those documents is imperfect, it is not because I did not read them in cursive.

We do not read the Bible in its original Greek and Latin, yet it is not less meaningful than if we did. I heard a preacher say that he was sticking with the King James version of the Bible, that if it was good enough for Paul and Silus, it was good enough for him. I guess those conservatives who are celebrating the cursive writing mandate can relate.

Other than sign my name or put notes in a notebook, I do not know the last time I have used cursive. I never write letters and mail them; I talk on the phone or email. When I do use cursive, I could have printed just as well.  In fact sometimes I can't read my own writing. My printing is more legible. If I did not now how to write in cursive, my life would not be any less fulfilled nor my earning potential any less or my pool of useful knowledge diminished.

One of the most valuable skills I ever learned was keyboarding, although at the time, it was "typing." I keyboard every day, for hours. Seamlessly, as soon as a thought is formulated in my mind, it appears on screen without a thought as to which keys I am hitting.  In my view, everyone needs to master keyboarding. It is a skill of the present and the future. Like fine calligraphy, cursive will be still be around and be learned by a few even  if not mandated, but I see no reason to mandate a form of communications no longer used.  I see no more need to teach kids cursive than I do Morse code.


Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

1 comment:

  1. As you might imagine, Rod, I disagree. I believe that children should be taught cursive writing. From what I 've read it helps to develop fine motor skills and contributes thereby to physical development. Also, while they need to WRITE with it less than we did it is important to be able to read it and students are thereby less capable. No it's not just some useless ancient skill that only troglogyte conservatives can find themselves defending, but has importance. The argument you make is similar to that made by many (and yes, even in some school systems) that arithmetic and long division aren't needed because students have access to calculators. The argument that it can all be done on computers is also great--until the power goes out.

    I urge your readers to also check this out: