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 after a generation of students who know only keyboarding, texting and printing out their words longhand.
 
Alabama and Louisiana passed laws in 2016 mandating cursive proficiency in public schools, the latest of 14 states that require cursive. And last fall, the 1.1-million-student New York City schools, the nation's largest public school system, encouraged the teaching of cursive to students, generally in the third grade.
 
"It's definitely not necessary but I think it's, like, cool to have it," said Emily Ma, a 17-year-old senior at New York City's academically rigorous Stuyvesant High School who was never taught cursive in school and had to learn it on her own.
 
Penmanship proponents say writing words in an unbroken line of swooshing l's and three-humped m's is just a faster, easier way of taking notes. Others say students should be able to understand documents written in cursive, such as, say, 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, when she encountered an 18-year-old at a voter registration event who 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, a Republican from the New York City borough of Staten Island, took her concerns to city education officials and found a receptive audience.
 
Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina distributed a handbook on teaching cursive writing in September and is encouraging principals to use it. It cites research suggesting that fluent cursive helps students master writing tasks such as spelling and sentence construction 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Malliotakis also noted that students who can't read cursive will never be able to read historical documents.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, when most states adopted the Common Core curriculum standards, which say nothing about handwriting.
 
Some script skeptics question the advantage of cursive writing over printing and wonder whether teaching it takes away from other valuable instruction.
 
Anne Trubek, author of "The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting," 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."
 
At P.S. 166 in Queens, Principal Jessica Geller said there was never a formal decision over the years to banish the teaching of 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 prepared for a cursive lesson recently. The 8-year-olds got their markers out, 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 prefers cursive writing to 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?
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COMMENTS (7)
  • zakrym-ste
    3/10/2017 - 01:25 p.m.

    Good, this needs to make a full comeback in schools. Cursive is important so that people can sign their name with ease.

  • irisp-ste
    3/13/2017 - 09:00 a.m.

    I find it very reassuring to hear that cursive is once again being taught in elementary schools. I never understood why it phased out when it is a skill that's needed later in life. Cursive writing should have never been taken out of schools in the first place.

  • davidv-pel
    3/15/2017 - 08:52 a.m.

    Writing in print

  • jakobm-pel
    3/15/2017 - 08:53 a.m.

    Teachers are not teaching cursive and students do not want to learn.

  • lydiam-bru
    3/18/2017 - 01:42 p.m.

    Cursive along with many other "older" techniques is being put on the cutting board for some of its strong negative attributes. Most students, like Emily Ma, believe it is simply "not necessary". Who could blame them when your whole world revolves around technology, which never is seen in cursive. Many of our youth have the impression that their is no longer a need to perfect your penmanship when every formal, and most informal, will be typed giving the art of hand righting to the computer. Unfortunately it is not just the students who are against this excused skill, many parents and administrators fear teaching cursive will take time from other school activities and lessons. Even with all of cursive negative attributes will it truly get chopped?

  • braydeng-atk
    3/21/2017 - 01:07 p.m.

    Many factors work against cursive, including those people who oppose cursive writing saying that there are better things to learn than cursive.

  • conradw-bru
    3/21/2017 - 02:48 p.m.

    Factors are working against cursive to make it extinct according to the article "Flip the Script: Cursive sees revival in school instruction." Technology is one of the many things working against cursive because everything online is in print. Kids who have only learned print in their lifetime is also working against cursive because they don't want to learn it, or don't think they should. Also, several people deem it unnecessary. Common Core curriculum standards have nothing about handwriting in them. All these factors and more are working toward the extinction of cursive.

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