Last week, I saw a news report that many school systems are doing away with required cursive writing courses. I grabbed my laptop and browsed for more news about it. [I typed into a search bar].
I quickly found that emotions are running high on this topic. You would think that schools were deciding to take math out of the curriculum. [I wonder if they format the curriculum in a nice Arial font]. Many people politicized the topic, and some said this was evidence of the great dumbing down of America. [Most comments were in a Times New Roman font, I think].
While I agree that cursive writing was something I needed to learn when I was growing up and that I did use it to write term papers in the 80s, it has been a while since I used it last, except to write my name or to list things on my grocery list. I admit that even my “thank you” notes tend to be fun Hallmark card videos featuring “Hoops and Yoyo” or a flowing mountain stream and sound effects.
No, I am not a total non-traditionalist; I do occasionally send cards and notes and letters. I do treasure old handwritten letters I have saved through the years, and I think that personalized notes and communications are very valuable. It is just that I don’t think that the skill of handwriting in cursive is nearly as high of a priority as many other things that are needed in the modern world, and I certainly don’t think THIS is the great evidence of the dumbing down of our Nation. [Oh, by the way, you are currently reading approximately pt. 10 or 12 text, depending on how your computer view is set]. Cursive is a lost art, not a skill that will help grow our economy.
I have seen many kids “peck” on a keyboard, because they don’t know how to type, and I think that should bring more outrage from parents. I think cursive writing could be a great elective for artistic students or those simply interested in the skill, and I am a little nostalgic and sad that things are changing so much from what I knew as a kid. I also admire the few people I have ever known who are really good at writing in cursive. But, I am realistic that if we want our children to be equipped for real jobs in the future, we should be teaching them to type more than “LOL” and “OMG,” and not worry quite as much about training them to use cursive. We should teach them to communicate well, but cursive isn’t really the most effective way to communicate these days.
As a publisher, I have to admit, I won’t accept manuscripts sent to me in cursive. And, no editor I work with hand writes their edits on a manuscript. I have never been to a job interview where they ask me to show that I can write in cursive. I have, however, been tested on my ability to articulate a thought. I have been tested on my ability to use a computer and word processing programs.
It is sad when things change, and I get nostalgic too, but the reality is that the dumbing down of America is not about students not learning cursive anymore; dumbing down happens when people are not taught to focus on the important things, real life skills. Learning cursive is not the same as learning grammar or math or science.
I am sadder when kids aren’t taught to build things, use computers, question, investigate, ponder, and create. I know that many of my friends have no clue how to check the oil or tire pressure of their car. We should be more upset that schools don’t require shop and home economics (for both genders, I might add).
For full disclosure, I made a “D” in third grade in cursive.