By Trishna Buch
I’d like you all to take a trip back down memory lane. Did any of you learn cursive writing in schools? Do you remember the first time you were introduced to this handwriting style? I do. It was in the third grade and I remember the feeling of excitement that engulfed me when I realized that I would learn the “pretty” and “professional-looking” handwriting I had seen my parents, relatives and older friends use. I remember that learning how to write in cursive was very similar to a young child learning how to write for the first time. We were taught a few letters each day and, in order to practice, we were given those infamous lined pages and had to make sure our letters matched the ones that were provided in the sample. After a few weeks of learning and practice, our teachers insisted that we wrote only in cursive. In fact, some of my teachers were so strict that—if we wrote in print—we had points taken off our work.
However, that emphasis with cursive writing only lasted the entirety of my third-grade year. By the time I reached grade four, the teachers were lenient and allowed us to use whichever writing style came easiest to us. And by the time I moved from Louisiana to Texas, and started middle school and junior high, I had a few teachers who were adamant about us writing in the cursive style but, for the most part, they didn’t really care. And when I reached high-school and university, the only matter of importance was that our writing was legible.
To be honest, I hadn’t really thought of the importance of cursive writing and whether or not it is still used in schools today. A co-worker pointed out to me that cursive writing, in schools, was dying out. I was curious to see exactly how true this was, so I took to the internet—and asked educational professionals and parents—to determine the amount of truth to this statement.
In the course of my research I learned that—despite several people believing otherwise—cursive writing is still a point of instruction in some schools. When I spoke to Melissa Tortorici, communications director for the Texas City Independent School District, she told me that students are taught cursive writing in the second grade. And Dayna Owen, communications director for the Friendswood Independent School District, told me that students in the second grade are taught cursive writing, which is then utilized in grades three through five. Several articles I read discussed the Common Core standards adopted by several states and how these standards do not require the instruction of cursive writing in the classrooms. However, there are several states—such as Alabama, Louisiana and Texas—that passed laws “mandating cursive proficiency in public schools.” Furthermore, a list tabulated by the Southern Regional Education Board showed that several southern states have different requirements for teaching cursive writing in their schools. For instance, Arkansas requires that every student be taught cursive writing by the end of their third-grade year, while Mississippi requires that students are taught cursive writing in grades two through eight. If you would like to read each SREB standard, you can find them by searching “cursive writing requirements in SREB states
However, not all schools require the instruction of cursive writing. The SREB list showed that Georgia does not have any cursive handwriting requirement. And when I spoke to a relative who resides in Chicago, she told me that her son never learned how to write cursive.
And that brings me to the discussion on whether or not it is important for people to learn how to read and write cursive writing. There is no denying that we are well in to a technological age. Nowadays, it seems that every form of writing, regardless of whether it is done for personal or professional purposes, is done on the computer. At least, that was my assumption and I wanted to see if that assumption rang true. Therefore, I decided to reach out to several individuals in Galveston County who are writers, and who I have developed a professional relationship with. While the majority of my contacts told me that—in both professional and personal situations—they used a combination of computers and paper and pen to write, I was pleased to see that each person had an individual response as to their reasoning behind the chosen method.
Brandon Williams, sports writer for The Post, told me that he uses both mediums to write, depending on where he is. “When I write personally and professionally, I use a computer, but pen and paper plays a big role. Most of my work comes from sudden brainstorms, so I like to keep both near me.”
Patti Hanssard, assistant superintendent for human resources at Santa Fe Independent School District, told me that—though she uses a computer for professional purposes—she uses a combination of both for personal purposes.”It is appropriate to write a handwritten note if the message is meant for myself or for personal purposes. But, if the message is intended for the public, I utilize the computer.”
Nicky DeLange, the author of The Post’s ThisNThat column, told me that she uses a computer for professional purposes but a pen and paper for personal purposes. “I prefer a computer when writing for professional purposes because it’s quicker and I can edit on screen, adding and deleting quickly.”
Frances Durisseau, author of The Post’s Inspirations column, told me that she uses both styles, depending on the occasion and the purpose of her writing. But her personal appreciation for the handwritten note stems from the enjoyment she feels when she comes across an old handwritten note she was once given. “Losing my husband Michael suddenly, and having my children grown, now finding the treasures they once took the love and time to write out to express their thoughts, means the world to me. They have become treasures.”
These responses led me to wonder whether cursive writing is really important in the grand scheme of things. The answer, is that there is no answer, because everyone has a different opinion. Shangruti Desai, a librarian in San Antonio, believes that it is not important for people to learn how to read cursive writing since the world is highly technologically oriented nowadays, while Archita Buch, a former elementary school teacher in Chicago, believes that schools should expose students to the writing style. “The smooth flow of letters is very calming and I believe it would be a useful skill in the arts,” she told me.
Those people who state the importance of learning to read and write cursive writing site the ability to read official and historical documents as being the main reasoning behind their response. This was an opinion that was shared by Nicole Malliotakis, a New York politician, who said that “if an American student cannot read the Declaration Of Independence that is sad.” Malliotakis’ comments can be seen on an article shared by The Oregonian entitled “Cursive writing sees revival in nation’s schools.” The link to this article can be found earlier in the article.
So there you have it. There are schools that are still teaching their students cursive writing and there are schools that aren’t. There are people who speak to the importance of learning the handwriting style, while there are people who believe that there are more important things to be concerned with. Personally, I fall in the middle of the two spectrums. I believe it’s important for people to learn cursive writing at one point in their lives—so that they can read documents that are written in the style and utilize it when necessary—but I also believe that, at the end of the day, there are more important things to concern oneself with. At its simplest form, you can ask 100 people about the importance of cursive writing and you will receive 100 different responses. It is all a matter of personal opinion.
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