While we might think the angst over the demise of cursive in our schools and society is a relatively new phenomenon, the same fears have been around for the better part of a century. According to a recent article by Geoff Nunberg, a linguist at UC Berkeley’s School of Information, on WHYY’s Fresh Air “[p]eople were predicting that as early as 1938, when The New York Times warned that writing by hand would soon be swallowed by the universal typewriter.”
Listen to Nunberg’s article by clicking the play button:
Despite the advent of the typewriter and the computer and the tablet and the phone for that matter, cursive handwriting has not vanished from our lives. In fact, as Nunberg points out, cursive is experiencing a renaissance from early childhood classrooms to university lecture halls. Buoyed by a compelling body of research supporting the importance of handwriting to learning success rumors of demise of cursive are seemingly exaggerated.
By the end of his piece, however, Nunberg arrives at the conclusion that after the fundamentals of printing are mastered, cursive should be taught as an elective subject, like band. His reasoning is that after the last exam booklet is handed in, our writing efforts are largely for ourselves or for filling out documents.
Fort Casper Academy in Wyoming Teaches Cursive
But are there reasons to keep cursive instruction in our schools, or even legislate its instruction as has been done in Alabama, California, and Louisiana? In short, yes. From building the foundations of literacy to understanding important historical and family documents and ensuring that students are prepared for life tasks, such as signing their name, cursive shouldn’t be an optional part of education.
To help teachers develop both print and cursive handwriting programs for their classrooms occupational therapists Dr. Denise Donica, OT, and Dr. Peter Giroux, OT, hosted a webinar. Taking the ten most common questions they receive from teachers– from the importance of handwriting to literacy to whether or not it’s best to teach letter formation in alphabetical order — the experts guide teachers through hows and whys of teaching handwriting so they can nurture the next generation of readers, writers, and signers of important documents.
Interested in learning more about how to build an effective handwriting program to support students from print to cursive? Click here.