When I was in third grade, I spent an entire year of my life learning cursive handwriting. I remember we would practice everyday on lined paper, repeating the curvy, noodle-like letters over and over again. At the time, I did not understand why we were learning this foreign form of ‘print’ because I was pretty confident in my reading and writing of standard text. Just as I finally mastered what I thought was the entire cursive font, it was time to learn upper case cursive letters and I was once again lost.
As generations pass, schools must find new material for their curriculum in order to keep up with the changing times. When new subjects and material are added to a curriculum, obsolete subject matter must be cut from the curriculum. One of the recent cuts from many elementary curriculums across the nation was cursive writing. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, cursive writing has been dropped from the Common Core State Standards Initiative, a curriculum that is used in 44 states nationwide. This does not mean that teachers who teach in these 44 states cannot teach cursive; just that the requirement is lifted.
When I first heard this, I was disappointed because I had to go through this daunting task of learning cursive. It is kind of like a fraternity alumnus hearing that the newly admitted actives were not forced to run five miles every morning at 5 a.m. Well, maybe not to that degree. It is my belief that cursive writing is an important skill, despite the growing role of computers in our lives. The opposing argument is: why spend an entire year teaching cursive writing when we can spend five minutes teaching students how to change the font to cursive on Microsoft Word? That argument makes sense to me, it really does, but does no one else feel the same sensation of receiving a hand-written cursive letter as I do? I rarely use the cursive that took me a year to learn but when I do, it has a serious impact. Standard handwriting does not have the effect that hand written cursive does and as cursive writing becomes more and more obsolete, it will have that much more of a lasting effect on people.
Michael Smith, a communications professor at Campbell University in North Carolina said cursive writing carries too many benefits to be overlooked. “It’s faster, more personalized and, at the very least, aesthetically pleasing” he says. Cursive writing does not only provide benefits to a writer but to a reader as well. When you are not taught to write cursive font, you are not taught to read it either. Some of the nation’s most important documents were written in cursive handwriting, including both the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. The original forms of these documents are hard enough to read as a cursive writer, so I can’t even imagine trying to decipher them as someone who was not fortunate enough to learn the dying art.
Does this mean we are going to stop teaching children how to do long division because we have calculators and how to use a dictionary because we have Google? One day, our generation will be the only ones left who can read and write cursive. Like many of our grandparents do for us, we will send our grandchildren birthday notes in cursive writing one day. This is assuming, of course, we learn the decency to stop writing meaningless Birthday wishes on peoples’ Facebooks.