September 13, 2019 0

Cursive Seemed to Go the Way of Quills and Parchment. Now Its Coming Back. The New York Times


Cursive Seemed to Go the Way of Quills and Parchment. Now Its Coming Back. The New York Times While cursive has been relegated to nearly extinct tasks like writing thank you cards and signing checks, rumors of its death may be exaggerated. The Common Core standards seemed to spell the end of the writing style in 2010 when they dropped requirements that the skill be taught in public elementary schools, but about two dozen states have reintroduced the practice since then. Last year, elementary schools in Illinois were required to offer . Last month, a law in Ohio providing funding for materials to help students learn cursive by fifth grade. And beginning this fall, will learn cursive, and will be required to know how to write it legibly by third grade. Even as keyboards and screens have supplanted pencil and paper in schools, lawmakers and defenders of cursive have lobbied to re establish this old school writing pedagogy across the country, igniting a debate about American values and identity and exposing intergenerational fault lines. When Anne Trubek, the author of , started studying the resurgence of cursive about a decade ago, reasons for teaching it focused on developing a civilized, well mannered population. People were upset about the idea that you might not seem educated if you didnt know cursive, she said. But , the reasoning for cursive became associated with convention, tradition, conservatism, she said, and tied to discussions about school uniforms and the Pledge of Allegiance. Indeed, several Republican lawmakers have spearheaded campaigns to revive the writing style. In 2016, lawmakers in Washington introduced a bill backing cursive after Pam Roach, then a Republican state senator, noted that a constituent had said her grandchild could not read a handwritten letter. The . Part of being an American is being able to read cursive writing, . Lawmakers have also invoked the Declaration of Independence, which was marked by John Hancocks flamboyant signature, as a reason for a script revival. Andrew Brenner in December, when he was a state representative, that he had co sponsored a bill requiring cursive instruction because studies show benefits for brain development and hand dexterity. He said it also taught students to read prominent historical texts. You can learn the founding documents from reading them directly, Mr. Brenner, a Republican who now serves in the Ohio Senate, told The Fulton County Expositor. Others have emphasized the importance of a signature. I think your cursive writing identifies you as much as your physical features do, Dickie Drake, a Republican state representative in Alabama who introduced a bill requiring schools to provide cursive instruction by the end of third grade, in 2016. Lawmakers in Louisiana supported , in part, because Magna Carta and the United States Constitution were written in cursive. State senators shouted America! when they . The history of society is intertwined with the history of script. When we want to embrace the past, when we get nostalgic for the past, when we think it was better, then we get all warm and fuzzy about handwriting, Tamara Plakins Thornton, the author of Handwriting in America, . Cursive was also politicized during the Cold War, becoming a display of patriotism. Unbelievably, there were arguments that the fact that American kids couldnt do cursive made us vulnerable to the Russian menace, Dr. Thornton said. that brain development, motor skills, comprehension and memory. Cursive may be particularly helpful for those with developmental dysgraphia — motor control difficulties in forming letters — and it may help prevent the reversal and inversion of letters, according . But some research has been taken out of context, or misrepresented, to further a pro cursive agenda, said , who calls herself the Handwriting Repairwoman and runs an organization by the same name. The world of handwriting is very much the world of fake news and crooked elections, she said. In 2018, State Senator Jean Leising of Indiana was called out for showed cursive writing prepares students brains for reading and enhances their writing fluency and composition. the study made claims only about writing by hand. There are also corporate interests at play. In 2013, Ms. Gladstone in North and South Carolina to require cursive instruction in schools to a for profit company that creates instructional materials to teach handwriting, . Kathleen Wright, a spokeswoman for the companys handwriting division, said that it does not lobby for legislation, but that it does provide lawmakers with research because were recognized as the gold standard of handwriting instruction, she said. But Ms. Wright acknowledged that some legislators may have erroneously conflated studies showing the cognitive benefits of writing by hand to focus specifically on the benefits of writing in cursive. , the president of the , said that about 21 states had adopted some form of cursive requirement in schools since the Common Core standards were introduced. Were not trying to replace electronics, Ms. Lowe said. Cursive is an important part of brain training. The foundation formed , which works with legislators to craft measures supporting the practice and offers for cursive coaches as well as an . Gayna Scott, a leader of the campaign, said cursive was a surprisingly charged topic, both emotionally and politically. You can get people worked up about it, she said. But the organization has been able to change over quite a few states by to decision makers about the benefits, she added. There are a lot of people who think were as old as dinosaurs, she said, but its a lifelong skill that is part of a well rounded education. Why leave it out? Some teachers say policymakers are out of touch with the realities of the modern classroom. I am here to build 21st century learners, said Heather Sox, a fifth grade teacher in Greenville, S.C. We should expose them, but I think you can do it in other ways that dont involve skill and drill. A few years ago, after a new mandate was imposed, she had to find time during the week to teach cursive, she said. Although the students barely touched the new workbooks, she said, she still had to give them a handwriting grade. Noelle Mapes, a third grade teacher at a public school on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, said the agenda to include cursive classes feels like a big nostalgia move. Im a millennial teacher, so it almost feels like a boomer effort, she said. The practice was helpful when teaching children with occupational therapy needs or fine motor skill needs. But requiring cursive is not a good use of time, she said, especially because schools and teachers face more urgent demands. Add typing skills, anti racist pedagogy, add activism skills, add digital literacy, she said. There are so many other things. OpinionAnne Trubek

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