I haven’t written a note by hand in a long time. And I hardly receive any handwritten notes any more.
So is there any point in teaching children cursive?
A story in the AJC today discusses the decline of cursive, noting that longhand has become a lost art in the era of text messaging, e-mail and Twitter.
“I am not sure students have a sense of any reason why they should vest their time and effort in writing a message out manually when it can be sent electronically in seconds,” says Cheryl Jeffers, a professor at Marshall University’s College of Education and Human Services.
The article notes that handwriting skills still come in handy for the SAT, which began including a written essay portion in 2005. (When they did, I attended the press conference announcing the essay and asked whether students with terrible handwriting would be hurt. The College Board said that it expected only a small percent — I think it may have been 2 percent - of the essays to be unintelligible due to sloppy handwriting.
In the article, Vanderbilt University professor Steve Graham cites multiple studies showing that sloppy writing routinely leads to lower grades, even in papers with the same wording as those written in a neater hand.
Graham argues that fears over the decline of handwriting in general and cursive distract from the goal of improving students’ overall writing skills.
Despite years of practice in my school, I have poor handwriting, largely from lack of practice. Teachers tell me that cursive also helps kids with fine motor skill development, and is worth teaching for those skills as well as for the need to be able to communicate when a keyboard is not handy.
What do you think?