The collapse of cursive in curriculum

Although I may be a tech-savvy Gen Xer, I do remember life before the Internet. Times were better. Kids were physically active and played outside. Nowadays, all kids seem to play is Angry Birds on their iPhones.

Believe it or not, before the Internet redefined life as we knew it, people actually made phone calls, on landlines none the less. Nowadays, landlines are unheard of and cell phones aren’t even used to make calls.

Times were better before the Internet. People weren’t dependent on apps, Google and Microsoft Office. Everything was handwritten — lecture notes, essays, love letters, thank you notes, postcards, recipes, checks, grocery and to-do lists. Whereas now, computers are mandatory, the Internet is a necessity and writing longhand has become a nuisance.

The demise of print was inevitable. But I didn’t expect it to fall as soon as it has. And no I’m not talking about newspapers, although they too are “dying.” I’m talking about cursive. The Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices have removed cursive from the Common Core State Standards for English.

So far, 41 states have adopted the non-cursive standards. The standards that apparently ensure that the next generation of K–12 students are college and career ready in literacy by the end of high school.

Thankfully, California isn’t one of them.

As society’s values and norms change and technology advances, the standards evolve. The CCSCO and the NGA were right to remove cursive. Writing is simply not part of the national agenda anymore. It has no core value in school or at work.

However, penmanship has a value all its own. Like a familiar voice, handwriting is recognizable. Erasing a form of that is like erasing memories. Something about receiving a letter and being able to identify who wrote it is a feeling that no parent, teacher, school administrator or state leader should be allowed to erase.

America’s academic standings may suck compared to other countries, but replacing a 15 minute a day cursive lesson with QWERTY lessons is not going to improve IQs and GPAs.

Gen X may be able to read our own prescriptions when we hit our 60s, but our grandchildren won’t even know how to write legibly, let alone sign their signature. Whatever the long-term effects entail, I will always still prefer to read a newspaper over an online article, a paperback book over an iPad and a handwritten cursive letter over an Edwardian Script ITC email.

Computers becoming more widely used in the classroom is not a compelling case to remove cursive from the CCSS for English. Cursive is a skill, in which builds upon other artistic skills. After all, there will always be certain lessons that the Internet can’t teach. And it seems that if elementary schools nationwide decide to adopt this non-cursive standard than print will surely die, right alongside physical activity and playing outside.

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