What are you writing about?
Do we really need to write? Write cursive that is. In a time when most writing is done on some digital device rather than with a pen or pencil, is teaching cursive still relevant or should we just concentrate on keyboarding skills. Lots of administrators think the latter. Yet regardless of that attitude, cursive seems to be making a comeback, particularly in the nation’s largest public school systems. As of 2016, 14 states require cursive as part of their curricula.
Teachers have different reasons for wanting to teach cursive as opposed to manuscript (printing).
Cursive involves a portion of the brain that manuscript does not. Many teachers believe that at age 7 or 8 when most cursive instruction begins, the activation of this portion of the brain gives students another pathway to learn the alphabet. Some also believe it will improve manuscript.
It is also thought that teaching a second method for written communication reinforces the learning of the first method and helps students have a better understanding of the alphabet.
There is also the belief that cursive makes adults more comfortable with signing legal documents. This notion is a bit anachronistic. While many documents want a written signature, the fact is that even an “x” is perfectly legal for a signature. Additionally, the feeling that using cursive makes people ultimately more comfortable writing checks is also not borne out in today’s world. Banks would prefer that people not use a paper check since they are more easily modified in the interest of fraud. More and more people are sending money electronically, not just to pay bills but to transfer money between private parties. Many people do not even use paper checks with their checking accounts.
Perhaps, the biggest claim for cursive is its benefit for people with dyslexia. While manuscript letters often look exactly alike except for the orientation of the letter (here’s looking at you “b” and “d”), with cursive, the letters “hold hands” so reversals are more difficult and the letters themselves look different.
There is also the argument that if we want today’s students to be able to read letters written by their elders, they will need to be able to read cursive.
As school budgets tighten, as demands are made that schools need to do more during the day perhaps it is time to drop cursive. Some people who were taught cursive have ceased to use it. A child's school time is finite. There are more useful skills, navigating social media and the internet leap to mind, than teaching a skill whose time has come and probably gone.
As we move further into the digital world, perhaps cursive will take its rightful place alongside of the manual typewriter. That used to be state-of-the art too.