Dumbing-down education by dropping cursive writing

In the continued trend to dumb down education in American public schools in order to make the curriculum more “relevant,” Georgia may join a growing number of states in deciding to stop teaching children how to write in cursive. This is the latest move in accord with the so-called “Common Core Curriculum,” which more aptly should be called the “Lowest Common Denominator Core Curriculum.”

In the most recent iteration of this curriculum, cursive writing is no longer a required subject; though states may take steps to try and re-insert the course. All parents who care about their children receiving more than a minimalist education, should demand officials in Georgia resist this latest bow to “relevancy” in education.

Advocates of the new, pared-down curriculum laud it because it does away with such “irrelevant” subjects as cursive writing. The ability to write longhand is seen as unnecessary, because students in this Brave New World of computers only need know how to type out commands on a computer keyboard.

Such a pinched and short-sighted perspective does a serious disservice to our children. This view reflects a completely wrong-headed notion that education is nothing more than a mechanism to equip children with only those tools deemed “relevant” for the challenge(s) of the day. In fact, the purpose of education is not to teach only that which is “relevant” today, but rather to discipline the young person’s mind and teach students to think beyond that which may confront them today. In its most fundamental sense, the purpose of education is to equip students to be able to think and analyze problems that will confront them in the future and in varied — often then-unknown — circumstances; not simply those things that confront them at the time they are in school.

Sure, the vast majority of students in today’s K through 12 will not become mathematicians or physicists. But simply because these subjects are not “relevant” in this sense, does not diminish or obviate the need to require the students — all students — to take these subjects in order to force them to develop basic analytical skills and an understanding of the forces at work in the world. These are life skills that will enable them to successfully compete later in life and in whatever fields they chose eventually to enter.

So it is with cursive writing. Students learn cursive not because they all will become professional writers or scribes. They learn it, first, because this is one of the primary ways in which modern man for hundreds of years has preserved and communicated ideas. The process of learning cursive also teaches the young mind to think and organize thoughts in a way that flows more easily and imaginatively than the stilted and childish block letters one learns in first and second grades.

Take a moment to marvel at the majestic words of our Declaration of Independence, preserved for prosperity in the flowing, longhand — yes, cursive — writing style with which our Founding Fathers communicated in the late 18th Century. Then picture in your mind’s eye the same document written in the simplistic, block letters of a contemporary second-grader. Ahhh, but, I forget; from the perspective of the contemporary, “Core Curriculum” advocate, this would be an archaic and sentimentalist exercise. Nowadays, students really don’t even need to know how to print; all they really need to know is how to type into a computer. And they don’t even need to know how to spell or punctuate properly; because, after all, their “SpellCheck” App will do that for them.

But take away their keyboard and their laptop, and their other personal electronic devices, and these perhaps otherwise brilliant students are as lost as babes in the woods; easy pickins’ for the students and professional from other countries who still must learn such “irrelevant” skills as mathematics, grammar, writing, history, literature, physics and foreign languages.

By Bob Barr — The BarrCode

197 comments Add your comment

Judge not and ye shall not be a moron

March 7th, 2011
7:02 am

” The process of learning cursive also teaches the young mind to think and organize thoughts in a way that flows more easily and imaginatively than the stilted and childish block letters one learns in first and second grades.”

Put on a crash helmet, reader. There’s more.

Judge not and ye shall not be a moron

March 7th, 2011
7:09 am

“yes, cursive — writing style with which our Founding Fathers communicated in the late 18th Century. Then picture in your mind’s eye the same document written in the simplistic, block letters of a contemporary second-grader”

The document would ring freedom if it had been written in cuneiform, sir.

Communication is the key here. Ideas expressed clearly. Our modern world has provided a very legible default: the key pad. One doesn’t need a Rosetta Stone to read the prescription for freedom in the Stars and Stripes, Mr. Barr, and I, for one, think that it stinks that you do.

Try writing about what you did on your summer vacation and leave us kids alone. All in all your just a-nother tweet on the wall.

bwa

Stu Ferreira

March 7th, 2011
7:12 am

I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with you on this one Bob.
Cursive is useless. Even worse, it only exists to confuse people, it seems. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to read something writen in cursive and had to reread several words 3 or 4 times because I couldn’t make out what they said.
Good riddance.

Stu.

sean Yankee

March 7th, 2011
7:14 am

I would be happy if they could at least teach them how to print legibly, and talk clearly and politely.

Stu Ferreira

March 7th, 2011
7:15 am

I think you should write your next blog in cursive, then scan it and post it up exactly as written. Then see how many people skip reading it because so much of it is unintelligable.

Flourish

March 7th, 2011
7:16 am

Bob Barr is…..RIGHT! Cursive. Italics. Big Block letters. It’s all part of expression. Words have great power. Letters and punctuation count!! I think we need a national referendum to criminalize the umlaut key. The power intrinsic in that particular diacritical mark is very potent indeed, my fine friends.

Stay with Mr Barr on this one, and vote yes on the bill to plug the colon, the semi-colon, and the accent grave.

What would we illiterates do without our dear Mr. Bob.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

March 7th, 2011
7:56 am

Good morning all. I respectfully dissent – cursive writing is a dead art. The time expended teaching cursive would be better used teaching Latin or basic economics or simple accounting, materials that lead directly to better educated voters..

Government Worker

March 7th, 2011
8:04 am

Cursive writing(whatever that is?) is NOT allowed on Government Documents.

Stop all cursive classes and concentrate on teaching OUR youth to correctly fill out the New (form 2234-sub F) food-stamp application………..Its a bear.

Also, OUR youth should learn more about the Federal Food Pyramid.Without it, we could all STARVE.

Carlosgvv

March 7th, 2011
8:18 am

This is just the latest chapter in the dumbing down of America, which started in the early 60’s. Filling students with self-esteem seems to be the major goal of education these days. American society is increasingly living in a fool’s paradise. When this fantasy bubble finally breaks, a hard rain is really going to fall.

Jimmy62

March 7th, 2011
8:18 am

If a kid can read and write print, then I think that’s just fine. I never really learned cursive, yet I doubt anyone speaking with me for more than a few minutes would describe me as ignorant or uneducated. This is much ado about nothing. Like telling us that not teaching Morse code is going to make our kids stupid… Once the telegraph went out of style, there was little point for it, and now that the vast majority of words are typed rather than handwritten, cursive is an anachronism.

This is surprisingly reactionary of Bob.

Mick

March 7th, 2011
8:23 am

Ah yes those were the days my friend as I labored long and hard to achieve the ultimate status in sister rose ’s third grade class, a charter member in excellent standing of the good penmanship club, it was a prestigious honor in those long ago bygone days…..

LA

March 7th, 2011
8:28 am

I’m gonna guess that the majority of kids who can’t write cursive are black kids.

LA

March 7th, 2011
8:30 am

“Cursive is useless. Even worse, it only exists to confuse people, it seems. ”

If cursive confuses you then you have a bigger problem.

LA

March 7th, 2011
8:32 am

“Then see how many people skip reading it because so much of it is unintelligable.”

Maybe you could use spell check before you post sarcasm. It’s “unintelligible” not “unintelligable.”

Have a nice day, low IQ.

LA

March 7th, 2011
8:33 am

“I never really learned cursive, yet I doubt anyone speaking with me for more than a few minutes would describe me as ignorant or uneducated.”

So you never passed the third grade?

Randy Pan

March 7th, 2011
8:34 am

Bob I respectfully have to disagree with you on this one, I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s and outside of HS and college there just hasn’t been much use for cursive other then to sign my name. The world keeps moving forward and less efficient or useless tools are phased out. In another 50 years I would not be surprised if the hand written word is as seldom used as cursive is today.

LA

March 7th, 2011
8:35 am

“he time expended teaching cursive would be better used teaching Latin or basic economics or simple accounting, materials that lead directly to better educated voters..”

Huh, I had no idea that third graders could understand accounting. Also, it only takes one semester to teach cursive writing. It takes over a year to learn Latin.

Ann

March 7th, 2011
8:37 am

I learned cursive many eons ago but have used it only minimally the last two decades. I have to think about how to write specific letters today and admit that generally I use a combination of cursive and manuscript………and NO it is not only the black kids that can’t write in cursive anymore!

JD

March 7th, 2011
8:41 am

Our founding fathers were educated classically — meaning they were drilled within the trivium and quadrivium. They understood and practiced rhetoric through writing and speech. And, were taught to question common wisdom through an applied logic.

As Jefferson said, an educated populace is necessary to preserve democracy. That is why we are losing ours.

RL

March 7th, 2011
8:41 am

We do not need to learn multiplication tables either since we can use a calculator.

Larry Major

March 7th, 2011
8:46 am

Can’t say that I’d feel good about accepting a personal check “signed” in block letters… or a prescription for a potentially dangerous drug… or a business proposal… or…

LA

March 7th, 2011
8:48 am

“and NO it is not only the black kids that can’t write in cursive anymore!”

Ann, I was being sarcastic to summon a fight from some left winger.

LA

March 7th, 2011
8:49 am

“We do not need to learn multiplication tables either since we can use a calculator.”

Yep, but there are a lot of black kids who can’t use calculators.

LA

March 7th, 2011
8:50 am

“As Jefferson said, an educated populace is necessary to preserve democracy. That is why we are losing ours.”

Can’t argue that!

Government Worker

March 7th, 2011
8:51 am

I looked up what you all were talking about. It comes from latin(where ever that place is?)

“from Latin: cursivus meaning “flowing”.

Don’t need no flowing when filling out a WIC application. It IS important to know who your baby’s daddy is though.

lynnie gal

March 7th, 2011
8:51 am

I absolutely agree, Bob. My son did not learn cursive in elementary school and now, as an adult, his penmanship looks like a first grader (he is an honor student at UGA) and his signature looks like a kindergarten forgery. He can’t read my writing when I leave him notes, not to mention letters. Writing is fundamental to education. What if electricity becomes scarce and our laptops have limited hours or are of no use? I don’t like dependency on modern technology for something so basic as simple communication.

JJK

March 7th, 2011
8:53 am

I agree that cursive should continue to be taught in the schools. My concern is that my children’s childrent will not longer be taught to write at all. They will just learn how to type. My sister is a teacher and students are commonly inserting “texting” speak in their assignments.

Carlosgvv

March 7th, 2011
8:54 am

LA

I know you were being sarcastic but you were also being absolutely correct. One of the core problems of left wingers is ignoring facts and hoping they will just go away.

TBone

March 7th, 2011
8:54 am

Another unintended consequence of No Child Left Behind no doubt. So I guess it’s fair to say that hand writing experts will be the next to lose their jobs in this economy. If the education establishment continues to lower the bar, maybe we’ll make ayp!!! Get rid of the Dept of Education!

Brain

March 7th, 2011
8:54 am

Yes, yes….Let’s teach cursive and stop ‘dumbing down’ educational curriculum such as we’ve been doing since the 60s when we allowed the coloreds to join the rest of us in school.

AND, let’s reduce spending on education by 20% and eliminate the department of education. Yes…BRILLIANT. As school districts begin to choose how to spend 20% less – some even requiring shortened days and abbreviated school calendars – let’s make sure what money is left by the retardicans is applied to the ESSENTIAL skill of cursive hand writing.

Puh-lease! Is there any greater indication of the right’s absolute refusal to embrace ANYTHING not done during Ozzie and Harriet’s time than this drivel?

LA

March 7th, 2011
9:04 am

“let’s reduce spending on education by 20% and eliminate the department of education. Yes…BRILLIANT.

We’ve spent billions on education for years and the kids are dumber than ever. See a pattern, Brain?

End the department of education.

Common Sense

March 7th, 2011
9:05 am

Sorry Bob, but it is hard to believe that you are arguing for the government to teach handwriting skills.

Are there not serious issues that are going to affect our freedoms more important than the manual dexterity of penmenship?

Peggy Duncan

March 7th, 2011
9:06 am

I don’t mind cursive writing losing its hold. I just wish they’d bring back diagramming sentences so people understand subject-verb agreement.

LA

March 7th, 2011
9:06 am

“some even requiring shortened days and abbreviated school calendars

You fail to mention the parents roll in all of this, ma’am. It’s not up to teachers to make a kid learn.

“let’s make sure what money is left by the retardicans”

Insult fail, ma’am.

“Is there any greater indication of the right’s absolute refusal to embrace ANYTHING not done during Ozzie and Harriet’s time than this drivel?”

Well, there was less crime, lower taxes and a higher standard of living back then.

CSC

March 7th, 2011
9:06 am

So, if students aren’t taught cursive, how will they sign legal documents? And, for those who claim that some cursive is unreadable, so is printing when done carelessly. What’s next? Will future generations sign with an “X” because all writing is passe?

JD

March 7th, 2011
9:09 am

“Why teach algebra – I don’t never use it for work?”
“Why teach Shakespeare? I ain’t never had to say no sonnet to git a job”
“Why teach Latin — they are all dead, right?”

Common Wisdom

Government Worker

March 7th, 2011
9:10 am

“Will future generations sign with an “X” because all writing is passe?”

Actually, an “X” is acceptable as long as we have baby’s daddy’s social security digit….Most of them.

LA

March 7th, 2011
9:13 am

“Actually, an “X” is acceptable as long as we have baby’s daddy’s social security digit….Most of them.”

Government Worker, you and I will get along real well.

JM

March 7th, 2011
9:14 am

@LA

Do you represent the cursive lobby, or are you just a d*ck?

LA

March 7th, 2011
9:15 am

“I just wish they’d bring back diagramming sentences so people understand subject-verb agreement.”

Then again, a lot of kids can’t even write their own name.

LA

March 7th, 2011
9:16 am

“Do you represent the cursive lobby, or are you just a d*ck?”

JM, do you have anything relevant to write or are you just a drive by retard?

a reader

March 7th, 2011
9:17 am

this is old news isn’t it? one of my son’s classmates switched to public two years ago. he told my son that he received a bad grade on his paper for using cursive.
once again the APS/GDE adds value to the high cost of tuition.

Flourish

March 7th, 2011
9:17 am

When LA was born, the doctor told his mother that he’d “run this stool sample by the lab”.

bwa

JM

March 7th, 2011
9:19 am

@LA

Okay, just a d*ck.

Flourish

March 7th, 2011
9:19 am

I speet on Cursive writing. I curse speed reading. it’s about the words being read. It’s not about how pretty the words look on the page.

Like Mozart’s scores are “nothing on the page”, yet try to play them……not bloody likely. It’s nearly impossible to play Mozart correctly. Women cannot play Mozart on the piano. Only men.

Don’t know why.

sean Yankee

March 7th, 2011
9:20 am

Pretty soon you wont need to sign anything. The chip in your brain will register your approval.

LA

March 7th, 2011
9:21 am

“When LA was born, the doctor told his mother that he’d “run this stool sample by the lab”.”

Wow, what a profound and intelligent insult, troglodyte.

Here, I found you on Youtube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvGZjRIH-NQ

LA

March 7th, 2011
9:22 am

@JM

I find it interesting that you haven’t written one single opinion yet you call me a d#ck. Are you not getting any in your trailer?

LA

March 7th, 2011
9:23 am

“I speet on Cursive writing. I curse speed reading. it’s about the words being read. It’s not about how pretty the words look on the page.”

So when do you expect to earn your GED?

LA

March 7th, 2011
9:24 am

“The chip in your brain will register your approval.”

Stalin dreamed of that scenario.