Does Cursive Deserve a Future?

Cursive for dyslexic readers

Unfortunately, cursive is becoming a lost art form. Once a mainstay of the American education system, cursive writing is slowing disappearing from our classrooms. Since educators are beginning to place a greater importance on teaching the computer and typing skills they feel that they are an essential aspect of a student’s academic future, there has been a shift to teaching keyboarding over handwriting.

Common Core State Standards leave the decision to teach reading and writing up to the states, districts, schools and teachers. While some schools still offer cursive, few require it. Essentially, cursive is becoming obsolete. The art of handwriting has been replaced by technology. I am all for technological advancements, but are we sacrificing too much by letting this art form disappear? Wouldn’t it be a tragedy if one day in the future, no one is able to read our Founding Fathers’ documents?

We shouldn’t be asking whether to teach computer keyboarding over handwriting. It’s comparable to saying why teach crawling, when you can just walk. Ok... so maybe that is a bit extreme, but my point is simply that we need to teach both — not one or the other! Both are necessary and both offer value.

A study in the journal of Psychological Science found that college students retained the information they learned during lectures when they took notes longhand vs. typing on laptops. Writing offers a multi-sensory approach to learning. In fact, children tend to retain information best when they study by rewriting the material they are trying to learn.

For students with dyslexia, who are already at a disadvantage in school, cursive is an essential tool in their success toolbox. Dyslexics have difficulty learning to read because they have trouble connecting sounds to letterforms. Cursive helps them connect the dots. It allows them to develop hand-eye coordination along with fine motor skills and memory. In fact, the Landmark School in Beverly, MA, a school that specializes in educating students with language-based learning differences, requires every student to learn cursive for this very reason. While keyboarding is also beneficial for dyslexic students because it can assist a student with spelling, it should not serve as a replacement to handwriting.

If you ask me the sacrifice is just too great. If we want to give children the best chance at success, we shouldn’t limit their forms of expression.

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