YES, THIS IS the so-called “Digital Age,” and anybody who doubts that can take a walk around the public place of one’s choice to see people’s noses glued to their screens as if it were the lifeblood of existence.
So, we suppose, citizens should not be surprised that some schools have dispensed with the burden of teaching kids the genteel art of cursive writing. For example, cursive is not required in the School District of Beloit.
There’s a national movement—largely driven by conservatives through Republican support—for states to require public schools to teach cursive writing. A bill has passed the Wisconsin Assembly and awaits Senate action.
WE HAVE TWO thoughts on the subject.
First, state legislators should butt out. Local control is preferable to legislative intrusion. Elected state or federal officials may or may not know the first thing about education. Bigfooting local districts, as a general rule, should be avoided.
Second, local school boards should consider making cursive handwriting required learning, as it always has been, in most schools, here and abroad.
There are solid educational reasons to make cursive part of a curriculum, including that taking handwritten notes may improve retention of subject matter.
But there also are societal and cultural considerations. A “good and careful hand” always has been a mark of sophistication with language. Likewise, few things mean more than a neat handwritten note of thanks or endearment. Not to mention, sometimes, a screen connection just isn’t available.
SURE, THESE THINGS can be “printed.” But, face it, for generations, print has been considered the way little kids do it. Is that the message we’re sending? Let’s all be like little kids?
Think about employers, too, many of whom already complain about mediocrity with language skills among the potential workforce. Do employers want to hire people who print like first-graders?
Likewise, when it comes to language, proper writing goes hand-in-hand with proper reading. The visual and manual use of language is connected.
Finally, a Beloit Daily News report found that some classrooms in the Beloit district teach cursive and some do not. How is that a consistent approach to a thorough education?
The district does not need to be told what to do on this topic—or most others, for that matter—by state legislators. The district has all the authority it needs to teach proper handwriting. Let’s get on with it.