Another Childhood Tradition Is On Its Way Out

The “three Rs,” reading, writing, and arithmetic, used to be the core of a child’s education.  For decades, children were taught the same general subjects in school, in the same general fashion – that is until the rise of the digital age.

And of all the subjects taught in a child’s early years, perhaps the approach to teaching writing has changed the most. Once a child could print, they often looked forward to the rite of passage of learning to write in cursive.  They would practice carefully for hours until they proudly mastered the skill of proper handwriting.

But now, in this age of laptops, and tablets and cell phones with full keyboards, cursive handwriting seems to be on its way out and, shockingly, some children are being reprimanded in school for using it.

PopSugar reported:

After turning in a homework assignment focusing on vowels, a 7-year-old girl named Alyssa received some harsh words from her teacher. In red pen at the top of the lesson sheet, her teacher wrote:

“Stop writing your name in cursive. You have had several warnings.”

Thanks to Common Core education standards, many traditional methods of teaching, as well as entire subjects themselves, are being replaced.  Gone are the days of creativity and individuality in our children’s schools.  Instead, generalized practices are being adopted across the board, with science and technology replacing the humanities.

Handwriting has been judged by many states as not being a vital part of the curriculum when so many other new federal standards must be incorporated.  Due to these mandates and teachers being pressed for classroom time to complete everything, cursive handwriting is often the first subject to go.

The Washington Post reported:

Since 2010, 45 states have adopted the Common Core standards, which do not require cursive instruction but leave it up to the individual states and districts to decide whether they want to teach it. A report the same year by the Miami-Dade public school system found that cursive instruction has been slowly declining nationwide since the 1970s.

“Cursive writing is a traditional skill that has been replaced with technology,” Hairston said. “Educators are having to make choices about what they teach with a limited amount of time and little or no flexibility. Much of their instructional time is consumed with teaching to a standardized test.”

One of the most prominent markers of our individuality is our handwriting.  We are identified by our signature throughout adulthood.  It is used as our mark of authority, our unique stamp on documents.  In fact, autographs of famous figures are considered collector’s items; a signature being the means of forever remembering an individual.

PopSugar reports on the benefits of cursive handwriting, many of which have been scientifically researched and proven:

  • Studies show that printing letters and writing in cursive use different parts of the brain, with the latter helping to develop a child’s fine motor skills. Not only that, in one study, people who wrote in cursive showed more brain activity than those who printed or typed — and they also generated more words and ideas.

  • Kids who learn cursive have been seen to score higher on reading and spelling tests and have a better ability to retain information.

  • Some people with learning disabilities, like dyslexia, or severe brain injuries can understand cursive better than print.

  • There are plenty of important historical documents that are written in cursive, and children who can’t decipher cursive words won’t be able to read them. It’d be as if the Declaration of Independence was written in another language.

  • As infrequently as adults need to write in cursive these days, they still need to sign plenty of paperwork, from lease agreements to marriage certificates to receipts.

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Cursive handwriting is being called a “dying art,” as the majority of school districts are choosing not to include it in their curricula.  However, some teachers are under so much pressure and scrutiny to meet federal standards that they flat-out prohibit students from using cursive in the classroom – even if they are taught it at home.

Handwriting is but the latest tradition deemed “unnecessary” in our children’s schools.  Technology is the main focus of our children’s education now, but the move towards a tech-rich curriculum makes it likely that our children will become more dependent on it than they already are.

And whether or not they are permitted to learn the skill in school, mastering cursive handwriting is important for continuing traditions like letter-writing, journaling, or keeping a diary.  For centuries, written documents, books, and manuscripts have been revered for their historical value.  No one can predict the permanence of digital records as current technology is replaced continuously by the next advancement.

And as for Alyssa, one of many children reprimanded for learning cursive, her story caused outrage on social media.  Many parents still believe in the importance of teaching their children cursive, whether or not it is accepted in their schools.

Of course, the most obvious point of contention in the handwriting battle is the overreach of federally-mandated education standards that are forcing our traditions out the door.  A parent is a child’s first teacher, and children should be able to freely practice this skill if their parents wish them to learn it.

We continue to see the destruction of values and traditions in this increasingly liberal world, with individual forms of expression like handwriting becoming the latest victim.

What do you think about the little girl who was disciplined for writing in cursive at school?  How would you react if your child’s teacher took this stance in the classroom?  Leave us your thoughts.