Today is National Handwriting Day in the United States. It only recently came to my attention that cursive handwriting is no longer uniformly taught in the US...and I was shocked. I was even more shocked that so many Americans were accepting it.
I wanted to discover what was behind this disastrous decision and found the culprit—Common Core State Standards.
If you are not familiar with Common Core, I urge you to research it further. Who is behind it? Who stands to profit from it? The Washington Post has an interesting piece on their blog entitled The Coming Common Core Melt Down. It is a reprint of an article by Stan Karp that originally appeared in Rethinking Schools magazine. It is the best I have read about Common Core. In it he says under the section 'Fighting Back', that we should be '... exposing the truth about the commercial and political interests shaping this false panacea for the problems our schools face.' And make no mistake, companies are profiting from it (could this be why 'keyboarding' is mentioned specifically and longhand is not?).
If you argue—as many internauts do—that cursive handwriting is no longer required (old school they're calling it) then why teach mathematics? After all, we have calculators. We continue to teach mathematics because it is knowledge; it is a skill set we need. The same applies to longhand. It is not a question of either/or. We need both keyboarding skills and cursive handwriting. I have computers and I type every day for work and leisure, but I write longhand every day, too. This so called digital age in which we live has only been in existence for the last thirty years—hardly an age in the scale of humanity, more like a blip. Are we going to throw away a skill set human beings have been perfecting for several overnight? Why are we so quick to throw away an important part of our humanity? Monkeys can tap at a keyboard, but they cannot write in cursive.
By not teaching children this valuable skill we are depriving them of knowledge. We are condemning them to a future where they are incapable of signing their own name. Is that an education?
Cursive writing has real, valuable benefits. Here are ten reasons to keep teaching and using it:
1. Writing in longhand accesses a different part of our brain, employing the more perceptive right-brain's cognitive aspects. By learning cursive, children activate this different part of their brain and in so doing further develop fine motor skills.
2. Writing in cursive helps you generate ideas and retain information. Children who learn cursive score better on spelling, reading and future SAT tests. Recent studies show students who take notes with laptops score worse on theoretical questions than students taking notes in longhand. The longhand students acquire and retain a greater understanding of their subject matter via longhand than do their laptop peers.
3. Research has shown that cursive writing may be a valuable teaching aid for children with dyslexia.
4. Most American establishments still require a signature. You need to be able to sign your name for a registered letter at the post office, have a bank account signature card, sign a passport, a petition, etc. The same goes for other westernized countries.
5. Signatures are harder to forge than block letters. Like fingerprints, our writing is part of what makes us unique.
6. To be able to read your great-grandfather's WWI letters to your great-grandmother and other historic documents written in longhand (can you imagine—what if John Hancock had had no John Hancock?).
7. Write an aesthetically pleasing personalized card or letter. Cursive is accepted as more visually appealing than block print (of course doctors are the exception to this).
8. It's faster than block printing. If you need to write by hand—and no matter what anyone says we still do—longhand is a quicker way to get what you want on paper.
9. One day you might live outside the United States and find you're missing a valuable skill the citizens of other Latin script countries still teach.
10. To prove that you are a well-educated, adult human being who can.
If you would like to take and use the badge I designed above, please feel free to do so.
The Pen Is Mightier than the Keyboard - Advantages of Longhand over Laptop Note Taking - Psychological Science Journal
The Lowdown on Longhand: How writing by hand benefits the brain
The Joys and Benefits of Cursive Writing
Andrew Coyne: Losing longhand breaks link to the past
How Handwriting Trains the Brain
Why teach cursive handwriting? A response
How cursive can help students with dyslexia connect the dots
The Benefits of Cursive Go Beyond Writing