As a child, I prided myself on being a good student. I absolutely loved to read and could lose myself in a good book for hours at a time.
Math wasn’t my favorite subject, but I found that I could power my way through my arithmetic homework quickly enough. That offered rewards of its own, namely more time for reading.
But young me truly disliked one subject: cursive writing. Practicing those whirls and loops made no sense to my mind, and I neglected it to the point where I can hardly manage cursive today.
Over the past decades, I wasn’t the only one to neglect cursive. It increasingly fell out of favor in most schools, powered by a general consensus that it was an outdated discipline.
In a 2013 editorial entitled “The Case Against Cursive,” the Bloomberg editorial board opined, “Like 32-volume encyclopedias or cassette tapes, cursive writing has become a casualty of technology. Why learn how to draw that funny-looking crooked triple loop when you can just tap the shift key and the letter Z on your mobile phone?
“Better yet, why bother with uppercase letters at all? They’re not necessary for understanding.”
Many people seemed to agree with my estimation. The days of the elegantly written thank-you card seem to have vanished, and it’s rare to receive a text message with anything approaching proper punctuation.
However, the state of Ohio appears to believe that there’s some value in the discipline. According to WLWT, Governor John Kasich signed a bill supporting cursive on Dec. 19.
Ohio House Bill 58 requires the state’s Department of Education to create a new curriculum. This curriculum will include supplemental materials about cursive.
The curriculum is aimed at students in kindergarten through fifth grade. According to Mental Floss, Ohio is far from the only state or municipality to make such a move.
Alabama, Florida, and even New York City have all added cursive back into their public school systems. The sponsors of House Bill 58 said that they had specific goals in mind when drafting the legislation.
They cited studies that said cursive helped improve literacy. It also purported to increase fine motor control and further cognitive development.
However, there was one important caveat: Though each school would be presented with the curriculum, they would all have the independent choice as to whether or not to implement it.
In fact, The New York Times listed a number of reasons why cursive is still valuable today. For example, forgers may have an easier time copying signatures written in block lettering.
People lose the ability to read historical documents when they are unfamiliar with cursive. And not knowing how to write cursive can decrease your tactile control.
Education professor Richard S. Christen, who teaches at the University of Portland, offered another reason: “These kids are losing time where they create beauty every day. … I’m mourning the beauty, the aesthetics.”
What do you think? Is Ohio on the right track or is cursive a waste of time?
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