Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Common Core Omits Cursive Writing

Teaching public school students to write instead of print, along with penmanship, has been going out of fashion in public schools for several years. The adoption of Common Core standards will hasten the demise of cursive writing because it is not one of the standards that students will be taught or tested on. If a school wants to teach cursive writing anyway, there is nothing to stop the school from doing that, but the authors of national Common Core standards obviously think handwriting is not important and students should spend their time learning how to use a computer or iPad keyboard instead.\

Many parents disagree with this policy. Many experts believe handwriting is important because it engages the brain in important ways that selecting letters on a keyboard does not. Research shows that the hand-brain relationship is important for children. The sequential strokes required to form letters and words activates regions of the brain involved in thinking, language, and memory. The mental manipulation of that transforms formulas, represents the brain’s recognition of patterns. When the facts are processed in writing, there is apparently something really important about manually manipulating words on a page. Researchers have found that practice with writing letters can improve idea composition and expression, activate the brain, and aid fine motor-skill development.

Two generations ago, 95% of Americans used handwriting. Not anymore. Yet the skills of handwriting remain important to develop a child’s memory, focus, attention, sequencing, estimation, patience, and creativity. I urge schools to continue to teach cursive writing even though Common Core standards do not require it. If they don’t learn cursive writing, they won’t be able to read helpful letters from their grandmothers.

Listen to the radio commentary here:


Bill Meyer said...

To simplify just a bit, what Common Core omits is any semblance of real education. We have suffered decades of (failed) educational experiments. Do they ever revert to something which worked more efficaciously? No! They replace each failure with a new experiment more outlandish than that which preceded it.

Thank John Dewey for the basic theories on which all of this has been based. Thank your politicians for wanting unreasoning obedient voters, schooled not in how to think, but in what and whom to believe.

KateGladstone said...

How were memory, focus, attention, sequencing, estimation, patience, and creativity developed throughout the long centuries and millennia before cursive handwriting was invented? If humankind had had to wait, for all those things, until the late Baroque era (when we first begin to see documents in any form of the particular handwriting that we, today, call cursive), then humankind would not have lasted long enough to invent cursive — or anything else. (Writing forms that were called "cursive" in earlier civilizations are not regarded as "cursive" by people teaching handwriting today, who are shown pictures of those pre-Baroque styles and are asked to classify them as "cursive" or "not cursive.")

Leslie Fish said...

Surprise! What we call "Cursive" today is really Palmer-Method script, which is ONLY ONE FORM OF SCRIPT WRITING, and very far from the best of them. Other forms -- like Copperplate (in which our great state papers were written), and Italic (in which the Mayflower Compact was written) -- are much clearer, easier to learn, quicker to teach, and keep their legibility far longer after the student leaves school. Documents written in those forms or script are still readable today.

"Cursive", on the other hand, has a nasty tendency to degenerate into that illegible scribble for which doctors are so notorious (but unfortunately not alone), which has caused *thousands of deaths from "medical errror". Just ask any nurse or pharmacist.

So why did Palmer-Method "Cursive" come to be the standard form of script in America? It's because Palmer was a greedy opportunist, who founded a company that made writing materials and writing school-books, and managed to get in on the ground floor when the government was first planning the Public School System. And why did he invent an inferior form of script? So that ever afterward the rich (whose children went to private schools, where they learned Copperplate or Italic) could always tell the children of the "poor" (who went to public schools) by their handwriting alone.

Cursive has been a cheat from the beginning. Yes, by all means, let's teach penmanship in the schools, but for heaven's sake, let's choose a better form of writing than this! If only for all the lives it has cost us, Cursive deserves to die.

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