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Columbia Missourian

WHAT OTHERS SAY: Don't demote cursive

By Kansas City Star
November 20, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CST

Somewhere out there another school administrator is working on a persuasive argument to curtail or eliminate cursive writing — using a keyboard, of course.

No doubt reasons abound to downgrade the painstaking ritual of learning how to construct those curlicues that, with practice, evolve into uppercase and lowercase letters.

Time is short, and teachers have many demands. Digital is the future. There is a keyboard or touchpad in every pocket.

But pencil this in: Cursive matters.

The art of handwriting is too exquisite to disappear. There will always be value in the handwritten card, the longhand journal and the scribbled notes in the margins.

A substantial body of research suggests that writing with pen and paper permits a more continuous flow of thoughts than keyboarding, which tends to create its own set of distractions.

Writing in longhand encourages creativity and recall. The teaching and practicing of cursive has cognitive benefits for young students.

Handwriting is a key to the personality and a record of what the writer was experiencing at a given point in time. Smiley faces and computer emoticons are poor substitutes.

And if students are no longer taught to write in cursive, how will they learn to read it? Surely we wouldn’t deprive the newest generation of a history of handwritten notes and letters and documents.

The Kansas Board of Education spent much time discussing the demotion of cursive last week and stated that, while it can’t compel school districts to teach handwriting, it strongly recommends it.

That’s as it should be. Keyboards and touchpads are the present and the future, but cursive is the connection to creativity.

Reprinted with permission from the Kansas City Star.