Typing Beats Scribbling: Indiana Schools Can Stop Teaching Cursive

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Who still writes in cursive?

That age-old writing method you might never have used since fourth grade will no longer be taught in Indiana schools come fall, thanks to a memo from school officials. Instead, students will be expected to become proficient in keyboard use.

Seems like a smart move as being able to type efficiently is a vital skill in today’s world, as opposed to knowing how to write cursive, which — like being able to churn butter and knowing how to hitch a horse to a wagon — is no longer needed.

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But it might not mean the end of cursive entirely in the state. The directive from the state’s Department of Education allows schools to decide for themselves whether to continue teaching cursive or disband the archaic practice altogether.

NewsFeed has just one question: How will Indiana’s students know how to sign their name?

READ: What Makes a School Great

Kayla Webley is a Writer-Reporter at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @kaylawebley or on Facebook at facebook.com/kaylalwebley. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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KateGladstone
KateGladstone

Handwriting matters ... But does cursive matter?

Research shows: the fastest and most legible handwriters avoid cursive. They join only some letters, not all of them: making the easiest joins, skipping the rest, and using print-like shapes for those letters whose cursive and printed shapes disagree. (Citations appear below)

When following the rules doesn’t work as well as breaking them, it’s time to re-write and upgrade the rules. The discontinuance of cursive offers a great opportunity to teach some better-functioning form of handwriting that is actually closer to what the fastest, clearest handwriters do anyway. (There are indeed textbooks and curricula teaching handwriting this way. Cursive and printing are not the only choices.)

Reading cursive still matters — this takes just 30 to 60 minutes to learn, and can be taught to a five- or six-year-old if the child knows how to read. The value of reading cursive is therefore no justification for writing it.

(In other words, we could simply teach kids to _read_ old-fashioned handwriting and save the year-and-a-half that are expected to be enough for teaching them to _write_ that way too ... not to mention the actually longer time it takes to teach someone to perform such writing _well_.)

Remember, too: whatever your elementary school teacher may have been told by her elementary school teacher, cursive signatures have no special legal validity over signatures written in any other way. (Don't take my word for this: talk to any attorney.)

CITATIONS:

/1/ Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, and Naomi Weintraub.

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HANDWRITING STYLE AND SPEED AND LEGIBILITY.

1998: on-line at http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/27542168.pdf

and

/2/ Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, Naomi Weintraub, and William Schafer.

DEVELOPMENT OF HANDWRITING SPEED AND LEGIBILITY IN GRADES 1-9.

1998: on-line at http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/27542188.pdf

(NOTE: there are actually handwriting programs that teach this way.

Shouldn't there be more of them?)

Yours for better letters,

Kate Gladstone

Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works

and the World Handwriting Contest

http://www.HandwritingThatWorks.com