Flip the script: Cursive sees revival in school instruction In this Wednesday, March 1, 2017, photo, Christine Weltner helps one of her third-grade students as he practices his cursive handwriting at P.S.166 in the Queens borough of New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Flip the script: Cursive sees revival in school instruction
Lexile

Cursive writing is looping back into style in schools across the country. It is happening after a generation of students learned only keyboarding, texting and printing out their words longhand.
 
Alabama and Louisiana passed laws in 2016. The laws mandated cursive proficiency in public schools. They were the latest of 14 states that require cursive. Last fall, New York City schools encouraged the teaching of cursive. New York is the nation's largest public school system with the 1.1 million students. Cursive would largely be taught in third grade.
 
"It's definitely not necessary. But I think it's, like, cool to have it," said Emily Ma. She is a 17-year-old senior in New York City. She goes to the academically hard Stuyvesant High School. She was never taught cursive in school. She had to learn it on her own.
 
Penmanship supporters say writing words in an unbroken line of swooshing l's and three-humped m's is just a faster. They say it is an easier way of taking notes. Others say students should be able to understand documents written in cursive. One example might be a letter from Grandma. And still more say it's just a good life skill to have. Especially, when it comes to signing your name.
 
That was where New York state Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis drew the line on the cursive generation gap. She had met an 18-year-old at a voter registration event. He had printed out his name in block letters.
 
"I said to him, 'No, you have to sign here,'" Malliotakis said. "And he said, 'That is my signature. I never learned script.'"
 
Malliotakis is a Republican. She represents the New York City borough of Staten Island. She took her concerns to city education officials. She found an open audience.
 
Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina passed out a handbook on teaching cursive writing in September. Farina is encouraging principals to use it. It cites research suggesting that fluent cursive helps students master writing tasks such as spelling and sentence construction. That is because they don't have to think as much about forming letters.
 
Malliotakis also noted that students who can't read cursive will never be able to read historical documents.
 
"If an American student cannot read the Declaration of Independence, that is sad."
 
It's hard to pinpoint exactly when cursive writing began to fall out of favor. But cursive instruction was in decline long before 2010. That's when most states adopted the Common Core curriculum standards. The standards say nothing about handwriting.
 
Some script skeptics question the advantage of cursive writing over printing. They wonder whether teaching it takes away from other valuable teaching.
 
Anne Trubek is the author of "The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting." She said schools should not require cursive mastery any more than they should require all children to play a musical instrument.
 
"I think students would all benefit from learning the piano," she said. "But I don't think schools should require all students take piano lessons."
 
Jessica Geller is the principal at P.S. 166 in Queens. She said there was never a formal decision over the years to stop teaching cursive.
 
"We just got busy with the addition of technology. And we started focusing on computers," she said.
 
Third-graders at the school beamed as they got ready for a cursive lesson. The 8-year-olds got their markers out. They straightened their posture and flexed their wrists. Then it was "swoosh, curl, swoosh, curl," as teacher Christine Weltner guided the students in writing linked-together c's and a's.
 
Norzim Lama said he likes cursive writing more than printing, "'cause it looks fancy." Camille Santos said cursive is "actually like doodling a little bit."
 
Added Araceli Lazaro: "It's a really fascinating way to write. And I really think that everybody should learn about writing in script."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What factors work against cursive?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (41)
  • alisat-hol
    3/10/2017 - 11:30 a.m.

    Alabama and Louisiana

  • coltonp1-hol
    3/10/2017 - 11:31 a.m.

    Just everyday texting and electronic devices

  • marcush-hol
    3/10/2017 - 11:33 a.m.

    Most Computer Systems can't do cursive, Most people don't write anything anything, and no one can read it because no one knows it now. (Exaggeration)

  • cournteyk-hol
    3/10/2017 - 11:33 a.m.

    It takes away time in school learning things that could also be beneficial to your life.

  • marisap-hol
    3/10/2017 - 11:35 a.m.

    The factors are advances in technology and the adoption of Common Core curriculum.

  • mollyl-hol
    3/10/2017 - 11:36 a.m.

    Some standpoints that would work against cursive are that it isn't highly used except when reading old artifacts and signing your name. Also, it may be quicker to write with, but it can also get pretty sloppy and hard to read.

  • annelieseh-hol
    3/10/2017 - 11:36 a.m.

    Factors that work against cursive writing would include that it takes time off of learning subjects that could be thought of "more important." Another factor is that some think using technology is more efficient, and is being used more, and in some schools there is less working on paper. So teaching cursive will require to veer away from technology for that aspect, and you would have to use a pencil and paper, so some people might find that inconvenient.

  • courtneyr-hol
    3/10/2017 - 11:49 a.m.

    They can focus more on the other work in the classroom if they don't have it. It can also be easier to read sometimes.

  • emmaz-hol
    3/10/2017 - 11:51 a.m.

    The factors that work against cursive is that a lot of states aren't requiring that you have to learn it. So if we don't have to learn it then a lot of people say "well why should we?" Also cursive kind of got pushed to the side with all the new technology that has came out, teachers were more focused on that then teaching cursive

  • briannas1-hol
    3/10/2017 - 12:01 p.m.

    They pointed out that cursive started to fall out of style then schools adopted the Common Core curriculum standards. Which didn't take penmanship all that seriously. Another factor that played into this is the up rise of technology, because we've focused on computers which work with print form letters. Cursive seemed even less useful.

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