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The Great Cursive Debate
posted by: Megan | April 03, 2011, 03:17 PM   
Everyone involved in education knows that technology is changing the face of instruction. When two-year olds can operate iPads, is it really necessary for kids to spend hours perfecting flowing curves and fancy loops?

As of now, 41 states have adopted the Common Core State Standards for English, officially omitting cursive handwriting from required curriculum. Now that it's not mandatory, schools around the country are debating whether or not to spend valuable teaching resources on classic penmanship.

In New York, some schools are considering eliminating it altogether. One teacher admitted that she would rather "move on" than spend the half hour on cursive that she feels is outdated. One official in Colorado agreed, "In many respects, it's only inside our schools where we see such emphasis on paper and pencil. The move outside our schools, and in innovative schools, is toward technology. There will always be a role for the written word by hand on paper. But the experiences most of us have, with 30 minutes a day practicing cursive in class, has gone by the wayside."

Others argue that teaching cursive is not merely a dying art, but a skill that ties together critical components of learning. One school administrator in Colorado believes that cursive instruction gives children the mental skills to understand broader concepts and become stronger readers.

"When kids get to third and fourth grade, when they're supposed to be composing, they can use more brain space for content than mechanics," said Cindee Will, assistant principal at James Irwin Charter Elementary School of Colorado Springs. According to Ms. Will, complex letter strokes help guide students' eyes left-to-right and help correlate reading with writing, enabling children to grasp the entirety of the English language.

Others argue that practicing penmanship helps children with special needs. Dyslexic children can benefit from the hands-on approach to English. Using cursive handwriting teaches students how to group words in the proper order and make it more difficult to swap letters.

Some English purists insist that cursive is an important part of our history. One parent was disappointed that cursive was being phased out in her child's school. "I absolutely get that we're moving in a world that's technology-based," she said. "But I'm of the old school that believes you can't forget where you came from to get where you're going. There could be a day the computer crashes."

What do you think about cursive being omitted from Common Core Standards?
Comment below.



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