OMG! Cursive Education On the Chopping Block

Cursive may be going the way of the Dodo bird and newspapers: Kansas is mulling a decision to cut cursive education and prioritize typing skills. “Parents want to know what your school is doing to teach kids to be prepared for the world of technology,” said Bob Voboril, superintendent of schools for the Wichita Catholic Diocese. “That’s a higher priority for parents than what we would call the penmanship arts.”

On Tuesday, the Kansas State Board of Education will consider what role — if any — cursive will have in elementary education and collect survey responses from the districts. The Wichita Eagle reports that cursive lessons have declined in the city, but isn’t sure how seriously board members are taking the decision to completely erase it  from the curriculum (pun intended).

“We’ve got to be able to communicate with each other in written form,” said Wichita education board member, Walt Chappell. “Technology is great, but it doesn’t always work. There are all kinds of situations where you have to know how to write longhand.”

A new national curriculum, the Common Core, which has been adopted by 46 states, contains no formal requirement for cursive instruction. The trend has some experts worried, as a series of recent studies finds that handwriting enhances brain development. Indiana University researchers found, for instance, that children who printed letters in a four-week study, rather than saying them, showed brain activity more similar to adults. “For children, handwriting is extremely important. Not how well they do it, but that they do it and practice it,” said Indiana University Professor Karin Harman James. “Typing does not do the same thing.”

Whatever its value, as electronics become ubiquitous, cursive may find itself edged out of existence by sheer inconvenience.

Now I’m not in the business of completely fabricating conspiracy theories to see if fringe groups will take the bait, but I will insinuate a cause for concern: The Constitution is written in cursive, and some could call this a move by the liberal education establishment to make America’s founding document unreadable to the next generation through, ironically, a national curricular standard. I could make that argument, but I won’t.