GLAD YOU ASKED: Local superintendent comments on teaching cursive writing skillsQ. I read recently that some states are eliminating the teaching of cursive writing from schools or making it optional. What is the Mitchell School District’s position on this?
Q. I read recently that some states are eliminating the teaching of cursive writing from schools or making it optional. What is the Mitchell School District’s position on this?
A. Following is an emailed response from Mitchell Superintendent Joe Graves.
“The trend among states and school districts around the country to discontinue or de-emphasize cursive writing has come about because of the intersection of a couple of trends. First, fewer and fewer adults seem to be using cursive writing. A combination of the proliferation of keyboard usage in the computer age and a tendency of most people to return to printing when they do write by hand — probably because of issues of illegibility (sloppiness) — means cursive writing is becoming increasingly irrelevant to many.
Second, the age of No Child Left Behind has pushed schools to focus intensely on reading comprehension and mathematics and to increase the amount of instructional time we devote to these topics, to the detriment of other content areas. Thus, schools have reduced time for other subjects, including cursive writing.
At Mitchell, we continue to teach cursive writing and in fact use a specific curriculum for this instruction called Handwriting without Tears. This program is used K-5 and includes printing in grades K-2 and cursive writing in grades 3-5.
Whether cursive writing will someday be eliminated from school curricula or not probably won’t be a decision by schools so much as it is by society. I don’t think it unlikely that the day will come when we teach children to write their name in cursive, so that they have a usable signature, and largely forego the rest. When I think of the beautiful script in the letters my two grandmothers would send me as a child, this trend really saddens me. When I think of the illegible scrawl of my own cursive penmanship, the loss doesn’t seem quite so bad.
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