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Topics Homepage> Schools should not teach cursive writing

Schools should not teach cursive writing

PRO (4 assertions)


Schools- Public elementary schools

1. Assertion: There are other things to teach and cursive is not well taught

Reasoning: Cursive handwriting is a very minor part of our current curriculum. If a student already knows how to write in print, there is no point in teaching cursive. Teaching cursive handwriting simply takes time from learning other things in the classroom. And because there are other things to teach, teachers don’t even spend much time or have much passion for teaching cursive handwriting.

Evidence: "With all the other subjects we must teach, we just don't have the time to spend a lot of effort on cursive," said Carl Brown, principal of Manatee Elementary in Viera, Fla.

Furthermore, the teachers said they spent about 60 minutes a week, or 15 minutes a day, on teaching cursive — the amount recommended by handwriting experts, said Steve Graham, an education professor at Vanderbilt who was the study's lead author.

"It flies in the face of the viewpoint that cursive is not being taught," Graham said.

So not only does cursive take some time away from other subjects, it’s not even being passionately taught. Consequently, kids will have a hard time picking up cursive and an even harder time learning other subjects.

Sources: USA Today, Vanderbilt University


2. Assertion: Technology exists; cursive is unneeded

Reasoning: Why write in frilly cursive when you can type on a laptop or computer? Technology takes the world bit by bit, and it has surpassed cursive in the ability to write. If kids know how to write in print and how to type, they’re fully equipped to tackle the global world. But with cursive, we’re taking time away from typing. With cursive, we’re taking time away from better, more legible print handwriting.


3. Assertion: Cursive is irrelevant to today’s modern world

Reasoning: Cursive is not part of our modern society; it is a relic of a bygone era. There is no need to teach something that is rarely used in modern day. There is no need to take time from classrooms to have teachers instruct their kids on how to write in frilly handwriting when it’s not part of anything relevant. There is simply no reason to teach cursive.

Evidence: In part, the disappearance of cursive from the curriculum stems from the Common Core State Standards (now adopted by the majority of U.S. states), which no longer requires cursive as part of language arts and writing instruction. According to the Common Core’s mission: “The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.” And the global economy requires students to be prepared to type, not prepared to write in cursive.

Source: KQED Online News

4. Assertion: Schools should instead focus on better writing content

Reasoning: We already have all the necessary tools before us, such as a notepad or a computer writing application, that can be used to write. Why complicate it even further by introducing cursive? The truth is, the more time we take teaching cursive, the worse the students’ writing content will actually be. Instead of focusing on how well they’re writing, they’ll focus on the mechanics of cursive handwriting. Instead of teachers instructing their students how to write better, more efficiently, and more effectively, kids will be wasting time learning how to write in frilly letters! What good does it do to sacrifice writing content for another form of writing? There is no beneficial effect here in any way, shape, or form.

Evidence: Tampa Bay News

CON (5 assertions)

No framework

1. Assertion: Learning cursive helps children read English

Reasoning: Teaching cursive is not just about aesthetics or preference, but it also gives the kids a special advantage. Cursive gives students the mental tools needed to read English.

Evidence: According to Cindee Will, assistant principal at James Irwin Charter Elementary School of Colorado Springs, the threaded letter strokes help guide students’ eyes left-to-right and definitively correlate reading with writing. "When kids get to third and fourth grade, when they're supposed to be composing, they can use more brain space for content than mechanics," Will says.

That rationale is intensely applied at Camperdown Academy in Greenville, S.C., a private school that teaches dyslexic children how to cope with their learning disabilities. South Carolina media group WYFF reports that Camperdown teachers use cursive handwriting extensively, as the built-in mechanics of the craft teach students how to group words in the proper order and make it more difficult to swap letters.

The loss of handwriting also may be a cognitive opportunity missed. The neurological process that directs thought, through fingers, into written symbols is a highly sophisticated one. Several academic studies from the University of Oregon have found that good handwriting skills at a young age can help children express their thoughts better -- a lifelong benefit.

Source: Huffington Post, WYFF, CBS 6 Albany, ABC News

2. Assertion: Cursive is faster than print

Reasoning: Cursive handwriting is writing that rarely requires you to lift your hand. Many of the letters are slurred together, whereas, in print, you lift your hand after each letter.

Evidence: Vanderbilt University professor Steve Graham, who studies the acquisition of writing, experimented with a group of first-graders in Prince George's County who could write only 10 to 12 letters per minute. The kids were given 15 minutes of cursive handwriting instruction three times a week. After nine weeks, they had doubled their writing speed and their expressed thoughts were more complex. He also found corresponding increases in their sentence construction skills.

Source: Vanderbilt University Study, The Washington Post, “The Handwriting is on the Wall”


3. Assertion: Cursive is just another useful option and should be used in appropriate situations where print cannot

Reasoning: Cursive gives the impression of formality or “proper English.” Just like you’d print or say “I’m good” in an informal and relaxed setting, one would use cursive and “I’m doing well” and use “whom and who” in a more formal setting. When you’re signing your name, you sign it with cursive. Notes are taken in cursive so that a student can keep up with a teacher’s fast-paced lecture, which print cannot do. Cursive is great in some cases, print in others. It’s just the option and ability to use both, judge, that we need to teach in our schools.

Evidence: All high schools, public or private, require students to take at least one foreign language course so that students can be fluent in both English and another language. This is the exact same thing for cursive, judge! Think of cursive like another form of writing, another way to communicate, much like Spanish or Mandarin is another way to communicate verbally. The reason why we teach kids how to speak other languages is to give them the ability, the option, to speak it. Because of this same logic we should just give kids the option, the ability, to use cursive writing.


4. Assertion: Cursive scores higher than print

Reasoning: Not only is cursive faster than print, which means faster note-taking and faster essay-writing, but it also can help a student score higher on a written exam, such as the SAT.

Evidence: When graders are given the same composition written in good, fancier handwriting (cursive) and poor, plainer handwriting (print), "they still give lower grades for ideation and quality of writing if the text is print," said Vanderbilt University Professor Steve Graham.

Indeed, the SAT essays written in cursive had slightly higher average scores than those written in print, according to the College Board.

Source: The Washington Post, Vanderbilt University


Assertions #5