Curses on Cursive?

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When asked for her occupation, a woman charged with a traffic violation said she was a school teacher. The judge rose from the bench and smiling with delight responded. “Madam, I have waited years for a schoolteacher to appear before this court.  Now sit down at that table and write out ‘I will not pass through a red light five hundred times.’”

There are two kinds of penmanship.  Printing is a style in which the letterS are written apart in a non-flowing slower manner (a b c).  Cursive is a style in which the letters are written together in a faster flowing manner (abc).  As a matter of fact, the word “cursive” comes from the Latin word, “cursivus” meaning “running”. (So let us hope that the school teacher in the story above knows how to write in cursive or she is going to be awhile.)

For a long time, students were taught penmanship that consisted of both printing and cursive.  However, teachers are now increasingly embracing printing and abandoning cursive (using the classroom time that had previously been given to cursive instruction for keyboard training).  The reason for the change is that today’s educational officials consider cursive to be a thing of the past – that in this computer age, no one except senior citizens uses cursive anymore.  In fact, most students are using less penmanship period (printing or cursive) as on their laptops they take notes, complete assignment, and do tests.

All of which begs the question, Why then do we at Wingham Baptist Church School continue to teach cursive writing?  (The A Beka Book program starts cursive penmanship training at the kindergarten level.)   The answer is because every major academic study has shown that pupils who are taught to write cursively are at an academic advantage over those who just learn printing.  These advantages include – finer motor skills, broader brain development, greater information retention, higher academic scores, increased literary creativity, etc. This is all due to the fact that cursive writing (in comparison to printing or keyboarding) takes the least amount of time and  concentration to put words down on paper, thus freeing up more of the mind for learning what is being taught in the classroom

An interesting aside.  Most high school graduates take a college entrance exam called the SAT or Scholastic Academic Test.  (I remember having to go in for it way back in 1969.)  Before taking the test, all students are required to write out, in cursive form, the 25-word pledge that they will not cheat and then sign their name.  For many of today’s public school pupils, this part of the test is more terrifying than the math or grammar sections, because they do not have the knowledge or ability to so do cursively.  So the student prints out all the words, including their name, and then connect those individual letters with dashes.  (In the meantime, most of today’s private school graduates, proficient in cursive, are quickly done; sitting and waiting for their counterparts, so all can start the test at the required same time.)

The bottom line?  When all is said and done, for learning – the pen is still mightier than the keyboard.