Do we really need our kids to learn cursive handwriting?

Throughout human existence, elements of civilization have come and gone, replaced by new ideas and technologies. Those technologies require learning new skills and abandoning old ones that are no longer relevant to everyday life.

Enter the debate over the new Common Core set of educational standards. Excluded from skills deemed essential is cursive handwriting. More than a few people are upset about that. Seven states have moved to keep cursive as part of the required curriculum.

Cursive advocates say studies show that the fluid motion employed when writing script enhances hand-eye coordination, develops fine motor skills and promotes cognitive skills.

Detractors say teaching keyboard skills is much more important in this digital age, when successful communication depends on the ability to type. And, with so few adults using cursive these days, it doesn’t make sense to devote precious classroom time to a dying skill. There was a time when cursive was the foundation of reading and writing. That is no longer the case.

The hard truth is that teaching cursive in school won’t revive its status as a pervasive means of human communication. That ship has sailed, along with 45s, eight-track tapes and vacuum tube TVs.

Cursive is admittedly kind of a handy skill to have – except that there’s never a pencil or pen around when you need one.


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