Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

April 8, 2013

Not obsolete

Students still need to learn skill of handwriting

Cursive writing may be considered too “old school” by some some, but we believe removing the penmanship skills will shortchange our students in many ways.

In a series of stories by CNHI News Service and the Times-News published last Saturday, readers were told how there is a movement throughout the United States to no longer teach cursive writing to students.

So-called common core education standards approved by the National Governors Association and due to be implemented next year lay out standards for what students need to learn in today’s education environment. Those standards include proficiency in computer keyboarding by the fourth grade, but make no mention of the need for cursive writing ability, even though it has been integral to American culture since the nation’s founding.

While many educators believe cursive writing is no longer relevant and takes classroom time away from other subjects students should be learning, there remains a strong argument on the other side to keep cursive in the curriculum.

The National Association of State Boards of Education issued a policy statement last September to provide state school boards with unbiased research and analysis on the issue.

Some of the research found that  that there is educational value of handwriting in ways that go well beyond being able to read cursive or take notes without benefit of a handheld device.

The research suggests the practice and process of handwriting may improve students’ cognitive and motor skills development, enhance their literacy and help them retain what they’ve learned.

On the local level, the Times-News found that our educators continue to teach and support the handwriting form that they see as an important communication tool in American society.

There is no doubt that digital technology has had a major impact on the way we write and read. Personal computers, smartphones, tablets and e-readers are in abundance.

But handwriting still counts — in much the same way as mathematics skills are necessary even though most of us use calculators to compute numbers.

Cursive writing should keep its place in our classrooms.

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