Cursive in the Classroom - Will it be Erased?

I have always prided myself on having good penmanship. But in a busy world filled with technology, I feel my cursive standards aren't what they used to be. My letters are now a combination of cursive and printing.

My daughter is in the 3rd grade, and I've noticed that she sometimes forgets to put the "v" in her name. She says they just don't practice cursive that much.

So, it got me thinking...what's the future of perfect penmanship? Here's what I found out, when I went back to school on cursive in the classroom.

Some states are cutting cursive. A recent report says 45 states have now adopted new educational standards. Those standards have teachers focusing on keyboarding, and not on cursive writing. Nebraska still has cursive in the curriculum. But for how long?

Many of us remember learning to write our names in cursive. It's a big deal for elementary-aged children.

Emma Leifert is a fifth grader at Lakeview Elementary in Lincoln. And even though she enjoys cursive she says she prefers to type because writing just takes a little bit more effort.

Down the hall in Diane Schneider's second grade room, students are practicing their writing on lined dry erase boards.

Schneider says cursive is taught in the second grade, second semester.

"First semester is manuscript. This was integrated into phonics blending and in spelling because we don't have a separate time for handwriting."

Lincoln Public Schools doesn't devote as much time to cursive handwriting as it did 10 or even five years ago. Karen Saunders, LPS Language Arts Specialist, says times have changed and there's just too much to teach.

Saunders says that right now cursive is in the Nebraska state standards at third grade only. It's introduced in second grade and isn't taught beyond second and third grade.

"If it would be removed from state standards, I could see us not teaching cursive handwriting," Saunders adds.

In the age of technology, you could argue that the perfect signature is no longer required. When paying at a store, sometimes you just need to sign your name with your finger on a tablet. So, it makes you wonder, is cursive writing really that important?

Many companies that sell writing materials still see the value in cursive.

Kathleen Wright with Zaner-Bloser says one of their researchers, Dr. Gerri Conti, has talked about how cursive writing really does develop fine motor skills.

And there's that connection to the past. Will students be able to read historical documents and letters from grandparents without being fluent in cursive?

But in today's classroom, the goal is to make sure students like Emma are effective communicators.

Saunders says, "Whatever students choose... If they choose to do that with cursive handwriting, that's great, we have taught them that. If they choose to do that with manuscript writing, that's also great. We have taught them that."

One thing's for certain, typing isn't going away. But is the art of perfecting that loop in your L and the curl in your Q being erased? Only time will tell.

Interesting to note, Lincoln Public Schools recommends cursive handwriting for students with learning disabilities. Students with dyslexia have a hard time writing in print because the letters look similar, like "b" and "d". But in cursive, the letters have a different look and reversals often go away.



Taryn Vanderford loves being a mom to her two elementary-aged kids, Jacob and Olivia.  Activities with the kids and a full-time job keep Taryn pretty busy, but in her free time she enjoys taking pictures, reading, Jazzercising, gardening, traveling and playing the piano for church.

About the Author...
Taryn Vanderford
Taryn Vanderford is an Emmy-winning journalist who currently works on "First at Four", "Pure Nebraska" and "Moms Everyday" for 10/11 and Gray Television.
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