The Curse of Cursive

Is this all you can read cursive-writing-blogon this page?

Several years ago, my husband and I attended a week-long program with a group of teenagers from several states.  The program, sponsored by several trail associations, introduced the kids to the Appalachian Trail and provided hands-on experience on trail building. As part of the orientation, we were to write down several questions aimed at getting to know each other better. We teamed up with one adult to one kid. The young man I met was amazingly eager to get started with the project. When I handed him my question, his face fell.

My question wasn’t that difficult! I asked if he had been aware of the Appalachian Trail before he was recommended for this special program. He handed me back my question and said, “I’m sorry.  I can’t read this”. I was taken aback and then quietly asked if my handwriting was that bad! He smiled and told me he couldn’t read cursive.  His school no longer teaches cursive. Of course, never being shy, I blurted out…

“You gotta to be kidding me!”

That was my first experience with the loss of cursive writing in our kids lives but it certainly wasn’t my last.

When I returned home from the program in New Hampshire, I spoke with a friend who teaches school here in Georgia about my experience. My jaw dropped again when I learned that it was becoming a national issue not just isolated to my student’s home in Massachusetts.

I began an experiment, because quite frankly, I still couldn’t believe the news. When I checked out at my local grocery store, if my bagger was a young person, I asked if they could read cursive. More often than not I would learn they could, but their younger siblings could not. Most said their parents taught them at home.

This information led me to dig deeper into the reasoning to stop teaching cursive. After reading several articles about the change, I learned those in favor of dropping cursive feel that it is antiquated and takes valuable time from teaching new technologies. There has been an increase in computer related skills and less emphasis on grammar, punctuation and spelling.(Picture an old librarian cringing right now.)

Those preferring to continue to teach cursive cite the educational disadvantage to those unable to read cursive writing. Imagine college students unable to do archival research or grandchildren unable to read grandma’s notes in the family bible or grandpa’s old love letters to grandma.

There are, of course, many more advantages and disadvantages to learning to read and write in cursive style. Some feel that cursive is a faster way to write. I have included an article from edweek.org that seems to have a somewhat balanced discussion if you want to read more.

Why don’t the Common Core Standards Include Cursive Writing

My personal feeling, as a retired librarian, is sadness. As I sat here, freethinking, I realized that future generations may have lost the ability to learn about the personal lives of their ancestors. Having spent hours, myself, scouring old census records, diaries and dusty photo albums, I can’t describe my feelings. When reading letters my great-great grandmother wrote trying to obtain a civil war disability pension for my great-great Grandfather, a disabled Union soldier, I was reduced to tears. (She was successful.)

My question to fellow bloggers, friends, family and complete strangers… What are your feelings about this change in children’s education? Do you have anecdotal stories to share? Do you have an opinion..one way or the other? I would love to hear your thoughts. Vote if you like as well.

Itzey’s Mom

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