Hundreds of American schools require students to write in cursive. There is an explanation

Hundreds of American schools require students to write in cursive. There is an explanation
Hundreds of American schools require students to write in cursive. There is an explanation

Many thought this style of writing was dead, but cursive is making a comeback in 2024 in the United States.

A little history around cursive writing

The way we put our words to paper has been changed throughout history by our cultural, commercial, and educational needs. Cursive writing is not that old. It was first introduced into schools in the United States in 1850. It was a technique based on the “fluid movements observed in nature”, according to the texts of the National Museum of Period History.

As a reminder, cursive writing is a form of pen that connects the letters of a word together using connecting strokes, promoting faster and more fluid writing. It is often taught in primary school and is characterized by elegant loops and curves, giving a particular aesthetic to handwriting. Children often call this“attached” writing.

Today, a little over a century after its popularization, cursive writing is gradually falling into oblivion, the fault of the advent of typing and tech products with which the world interacts more and more. . HASWhile some people consider this form of writing to be dying, cursive is making a comeback in 2024… and there is a clear explanation for that. Several, even.

Context: the disappearance then the great return of handwriting in the United States

In North America, many states abandoned the teaching of cursive with the adoption of Common Core in 2010. The Common Core is a set of common standards in English and mathematics aimed at ensuring a certain national cohesion. Although they don’t mention cursive at all, these new standards expect students to demonstrate “sufficient mastery of keyboarding skills”. As a result, the teaching of handwriting declined and cursive took a back seat to keyboards.

Recently, many states which had abandoned handwriting are trying to bring it back up to date. The campaign for cursive writing began in 2013 when associations began sending letters to state politicians encouraging them to pass laws in their direction. Today, 21 out of 50 states already require some form of “tethered writing” instruction, according to mycursive.com. A notable example is that of the California, where a new law requiring its teaching in primary schools has been in place for several months. New Hampshire and Michigan followed suit with similar bills.

Why maintain cursive in a world where PCs and smartphones dominate?

At first glance, it may seem strange that this new cursive fever comes at a time when technological advances, spearheaded by PCs and smartphones, have made typewritten text communication much faster, more efficient and relevant than traditional “old-fashioned” handwriting. Why such a step backwards? Let’s look at what the politicians who are campaigning for a return to cursive say.

California Congresswoman Sharon Quirk-Silva and former teacher for 30 years, says that learning cursive allows students to read historical documentssuch as the United States Constitution and letters from family members. Indiana Senator Jean Leising, who has unsuccessfully defended for 12 years a bill aimed at introducing cursive into classrooms, agrees: “When I started, I told myself that if children couldn’t learn cursive , they wouldn’t even have a signature.” In his statements on the subject, the senator cited the case of a land assessor who had to fire a young man because he could not go to court and read old documents. He also gives the example of a family whose 15-year-old son could not sign his name at an airport counter.

Let’s not hide our faces, these statements are a bit abusive. Basically, the policies and associations which actively campaign for the maintenance of manual writing do so above allar ideology. So let’s ask ourselves the only question that should matter: what does science say about it?

When we look at it, we realize that there is an solid body of academic research extolling the benefits of learning cursive. The late William Klemm, professor of neuroscience at Texas A&M University, is widely cited by cursive advocates for his research published in Psychology Today, who suggest that learning cursive “is an important tool for cognitive development.” According to him, cursive helps train the brain to learn “functional specialization,” that is, the ability to achieve optimal efficiency.” Other research also concludes that learning cursive writing brings a series of other benefits, ranging from development of fine motor skills to the stimulation and creation of synergies between the different hemispheres of the brain involved in thought, language and working memory. Along these lines, a 2019 study published in PLOS One concludes that “there is growing evidence that handwriting proficiency plays an important role in academic performance.”

Finding new ways to teach cursive writing to our little ones

For all its benefits, handwriting is far from easy to implement in classrooms. A survey carried out in the 2000s among primary school teachers clearly highlighted this problem. She reveals that less than half of primary school teachers surveyed believe handwriting is fast enough to meet the intense demands of the school curriculum. Furthermore, very few of them, only 12%, feel that they have been properly trained to teach this skill. That implies that teachers may need more support and training to integrate handwriting into their teaching effectively.

Some steps have already been taken in this direction. So, In most recent school curricula, there is talk of completely eliminating the characteristic slant of cursive and encouraging a vertical formation of letters, which is less intimidating to learn. Suzanne Asherson, author of the “Handwriting Without Tears” program, explains that the original slanted style was developed in the days of pens, to avoid ink splattering. “Do children use pens? No.”

Finally, arises today the new challenge of AI. Even professionals who consider this ancient technique useless admit one thing: writing by hand could contribute to the fight against academic fraud boosted by the massive arrival of AI in the lives of students. Everyone knows: applications like ChatGPT can make plagiarism easier. SO, Unless we radically change the way school works, the ability to write fluently on paper will never be obsolete. And then, maybe PCs and smartphones will not be not there forever.

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