LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Cursive writing shouldn't be lost in education

Wednesday, March 14, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

To think that when I have children they might attend an elementary school that does not put an emphasis on cursive writing bewilders me. My biggest concern is that the shift into a "digital era" will soon make basic learning concepts and skills taught in elementary schools things of the past, and total reliance will be put upon machines that can think for children.

Although Missouri adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010, I appreciate that the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has left the decision of whether to focus on cursive writing up to individual school districts. In states such as New Jersey, there is no core standard that suggests the need for cursive handwriting in elementary education.

Putting cursive writing on the back burner in Missouri is a serious widespread issue.  Although the times are changing and typing is becoming a more common way to communicate, cursive writing is by no means inferior. It's a well-known fact that research has proven handwriting jump starts essential brain activity while typing has not.

When sending children to school and promising them that the world is at their young fingertips, I'm sure parents were not referring to a keyboard. There is so much more outside what the "digital era" can teach us, and educators ought to give children all of those opportunities.

I propose that the state establish a way to incorporate both cursive writing and typing into the Common Core State Standards. This would not be meant to add a third component to writing but simply give an equal amount of time spent on typing and cursive writing.

I believe that the people we put in place to head individual education districts should start by making the decision to reiterate the importance of cursive writing and encourage Missouri school districts to equally focus on this skill.

Ashlee B. Reece is a junior at MU.

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Mark Foecking March 14, 2012 | 9:20 a.m.

"It's a well-known fact that research has proven handwriting jump starts essential brain activity while typing has not."

Is it? Show me.

When the average high school student has trouble finding Iran on a map, framing a coherent sentence, has trouble balancing a checkbook or understanding basic scientific concepts, I think concern over the ability to make pretty cursive handwritten words on a piece of paper is misplaced.

Cursive handwriting is far less of an issue than the above mentioned skills. Handwriting is important, but legibility is more important than style.


(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt March 14, 2012 | 12:10 p.m.

Mark said: "Is it? Show me."

My exact thoughts when I read that sentence.

"Putting cursive writing on the back burner in Missouri is a serious widespread issue."

I'm pretty sure that people who grew up around abaci thought the same when slide rules and mechanical calculators became popular--and I would wager that calculators did a better job of making us dumber than keyboards did. But, we're still doing quite alright all things considered, and I highly doubt this is, in fact, a "serious widespread issue."

(Report Comment)
mike mentor March 14, 2012 | 4:38 p.m.

Well, if Mark, Jon and I agree, Ashlee must be a small minority. I have yet to find a keyboard that will think for me. Try as I might to stare that sucker down, the only time those keys make letters are when I push them. I agree that we should teach elementary school kids to write by hand, but teaching them two ways to handwrite would fall waaayyyyy down on the priority list...

(Report Comment)
steven mankofsky March 14, 2012 | 11:54 p.m.

I agree with all the above statements. What exactly are the benefits of cursive writing? As long as one knows how to write, I dont see how cursive writing is a vital subject in schools. I learned it and never use it.

(Report Comment)
Ashlee R. March 17, 2012 | 7:28 p.m.

To My Commenters,

I understand there are some concerns regarding my statement about the influence that hand writing has on the brain. Here is an article in the Wall Street Journal further explaining how handwriting affects the human brain.


This is an article from the website of Kevin Trudeau who is a natural cures health advocate and whistleblower. This article approaches cursive writing specifically.

After reading these articles, it may better help you understand the benefits of cursive writing. Please continue to address any further concerns. Thank you.

Ashlee B. Reece

(Report Comment)

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