To Bring You Up to Date on the Cursive Debate

cursive-writing-photoWhile the teaching of cursive handwriting has disappeared from the curriculum of many schools, there exists a lively debate about whether or not it is worth teaching

I am very much in the pro-cursive camp, believing that there are many benefits to cursive handwriting that are not generally acknowledged.

Obviously I am not alone. Demand for the teaching of cursive is so strong in some states that the legislature has actually passed a law mandating the teaching of cursive in the elementary schools in their state. I am not really in favor of educational objectives being mandated by law but prefer each State Board of Education draw up the standards for the state.

So far:

Six states (MA, CA, NC. TX, UT and IN) never dropped cursive from the curriculum after the introduction of Common Core, even though Common Core does not require that schools teach it.

 Ten states (South Carolina Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas ) have passed legislation mandating that cursive be taught in elementary school.

 Four states (New Jersey, West Virginia, Ohio, Nevada) have legislation pending that mandates the teaching of cursive.

In Indiana a bill that would mandate cursive failed to pass (five times) and in Washington a similar bill was denied a vote in the legislature.

The Arizona governor vetoed such a bill because he believed that the state should not mandate educational objectives, but the Arizona State Board of Education has now included it in the educational standards.

And so it goes. State Boards of Education are debating the question as they set up their standards. Educators and parents on both sides of the issue have strong opinions.

Tomorrow I’ll discuss why they have so much trouble agreeing.









3 thoughts on “To Bring You Up to Date on the Cursive Debate

  1. Mary — Earlier today while reading an article on renowned architect Robert A. M. Stern, I thought immediately that a part would be interesting to you in light of your belief in the value of cursive handwriting (which I share). It describes Stern as a teacher: ” ‘He was amazingly engaged and proactive,’ says architect, author and filmmaker James Sanders…who studied under Stern [both as an undergraduate and graduate]. ‘He was also famously tough, and could be quite harsh on work that he didn’t feel was meeting the standard of the school or his class.’ Stern insisted that students master traditional skills like drawing and lettering. ‘You learned how to twirl your pencil as ran it along your T-square,’ Sanders says. ‘The line couldn’t get thinner or thicker; it had to remain uniform. He wanted his students to come out of Columbia, and his design studio in particular, with incredible presentation skills.’
    “Though computer renderings have become ubiquitous, Stern continues to champion the importance of hand drawing, something he says he came down on very hard as dean at Yale [to which he moved after Columbia]. ‘I believe that what you draw, and what you see, and what your brain tells you back and forth, are really where the creative act comes,’ he says. ‘A little potent sketch is much more powerful than any other means of communicating an architectural idea.’ ” As with a sketch, so too with a written communication.


    1. Your comment struck me as so interesting that I embarked on one of those meandering google searches that led me to articles about the argument in architectural circles about hand drawing vs. the computer renderings. Someone made the cogent point that its not an either/or proposition, which is true of the cursive/keyboarding debate, I think. And I was particularly interested in Stern’s comment:”what you draw, and what you see, and what your brain tells you back and forth are really where the creative act comes.”That applies to cursive handwriting as well where the attention is on the tip of the pen and the brain and the hand work in creative concert. Thanks so much for your input!


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