The newsLINK Group - Teaching Students Cursive

Editorial Library Category: Education Topics: Teaching Cursive Title: Teaching Students Cursive Author: newsLINK Staff Synopsis: Cursive is an underrated skill. At a time when most schools have increased their emphasis on testing and dropped or cut back school time for basics such as gym and music classes, it’s not surprising that administrators and teachers have also backed off their one- time emphasis on teaching students how to write in cursive. Editorial: Teaching Students Cursive 4064 South Highland Drive, Millcreek, Utah 84124 │ thenewslinkgroup.com │ (v) 801.676.9722 │ (tf) 855.747.4003 │ (f) 801.742.5803 Editorial Library | © The newsLINK Group LLC 1 Cursive is an underrated skill. At a time when most schools have increased their emphasis on testing and dropped or cut back school time for basics such as gym and music classes, it’s not surprising that administrators and teachers have also backed off their one-time emphasis on teaching students how to write in cursive. The decline started in the 1970s and has progressively gotten worse over time. New national standards don’t even require students to learn cursive, and for many school districts, that’s reason enough to eliminate it from the curriculum. The fact that teaching cursive is left to the discretion of local school districts is a polite way of saying it is not perceived nationally as a necessary skill any more. Cursive was originally intended as a way to write more quickly, after all, but someone who is typing is generally going to be able to work faster than someone who is writing cursive. If the only motivation for teaching cursive is the fact that it can be faster than printing, then maybe it’s time to forget about teaching students how to do anything much beyond printing letters, and teach them how to type instead. But are there other benefits for students who write in cursive? The short answer is yes. Good cursive handwriting is far from being trivial. U.S. students are often taught to focus only on the most practical subjects, but an education that only focuses on teaching children to take tests is narrow and does not prepare students for the more complicated world they will face after they leave the public-school system. The U.S. has cut too many subjects from its curriculum already. The thing we need to cut back on is constant testing, not skills. Students from many other countries, such as India and China, are outperforming U.S. students. Our students are as bright as anyone else’s students. What’s lacking is a broad, relevant curriculum based on more than the perceived pragmatism of the moment. Cursive is an art form. Eastern traditions have calligraphy and western traditions have cursive. By educating students about both, you provide them with a good basis for cross-cultural studies. It doesn’t hurt that clear, beautiful cursive handwriting looks good, too. Someone who can write cursive well will make a better impression than someone who can only manage to print ill-formed, hard-to-read letters. Teaching cursive reinforces learning. When students study a foreign language, they understand their own grammar better. It works much the same way with cursive. Students who study cursive find that it helps them learn printing better, especially any letters that may have been difficult for them in preschool. Early achievement in handwriting, reading, and spelling skills is made possible when someone learns how to write cursive early in the grade-school experience. Learning cursive develops and improves motor skills. This is something that is particularly effective for students who are seven or eight years old. The brain processes printed letters and cursive letters in different parts of the brain, and the evidence shows that students who write cursive remember more information and can create more ideas from what they write. More than that, children who can write cursive do better when reading or writing. No one knows completely why that is true, but it would be foolish to ignore it. Children with learning disabilities benefit from learning cursive because the pen or pencil moves from left to write and because all letters start on a base line. A cursive “b” and “d” are much different from each other, but a printed “b” and “d” look almost the same. If you think there aren’t enough children dealing with learning disabilities for this to matter, you should know that learning disabilities affect ten percent of all students, and that dyslexia is a problem for as much as 20 percent of the U.S. Students with dyslexia, reading

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