News and Tribune


April 23, 2013

Cursive has moved out of state requirements, but might work its way back in





John Reed, assistant superintendent of West Clark Community Schools, said while his district incorporates cursive handwriting into classes without spending dedicated blocks of time on the lessons, the decision to teach or not to teach has support on both ends of the spectrum.

“There are areas in education where you can find research either way,” Reed said. “There’s as much research on why you should use cursive writing as there is on why it doesn’t matter. Generally, when you’re talking about second or third grade, that’s when a district will teach children to write in cursive.”

Teachers in West Clark begin incorporating cursive in the second semester of second grade and the first semester of third grade, Reed said. While teachers have to spend a little time getting students familiar with cursive, he said it’s not definitive on how much it matters in national studies.

But he did have a suggestion on how to teach students cursive on the fly — find a way to reprogram their cell phones to only display letters in cursive.

“I guarantee you they’ll learn it overnight,” Reed said.

But he said while parents make arguments that cursive is needed to teach students how to sign documents with a signature or write out checks, the digital age has computerized a lot of the things people used to write and sign for.

“How applicable is this to real-life situations? It’s like the old arguments in math whether you should let kids use a calculator or not,” Reed said. “We’ve kind of given into that even on state tests. With cursive, how many real applications does a person use cursive?”

He said students in West Clark schools don’t have dedicated time with keyboarding in elementary schools, but used to for sixth and seventh graders until about five years ago.

But he said the district has considered introducing keyboarding as early as kindergarten, with keyboard diagrams hanging up in classrooms.

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