Just when it looked like it was about to disappear entirely from schools, cursive is making a comeback.
As KXAN reports, changes to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) requirements in language arts mean that all students will be required to know how to write in cursive by fifth grade. That means cursive classes will return for Texas students starting in the second grade as of this fall.
According to KTRK, the state dropped penmanship classes years ago when the Common Core standards were introduced. The leaders behind Common Core felt that cursive was outmoded and unnecessary in modern life.
However, the use of cursive never disappeared entirely. Special education teachers continued to use cursive to help students with dyslexia.
The dyslexia coordinator for one Texas school district explained to KXAN that learning cursive aids memory, stimulates brain function, and helps students focus on the whole word instead of just the letters:
“Say they wanted to write the word ‘magenta,’ and they weren’t able to get it. They might just write ‘red.’ And cursive helps them have a flow of ideas; it’s more streamlined, with less stopping in between.”
Another specialist in dyslexia and literacy added that these benefits aren’t exclusive to students with learning disabilities:
“As children are being encouraged to write earlier, some are learning quickly to replicate letters but not being taught about how to form the letters.”
Proponents of cursive point out that research shows cursive writing helps develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, both of which can help with reading, writing, and cognition.
Others have posited that learning cursive is necessary so that students and scholars will be able to read and understand historical documents.
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However, some still feel that learning cursive is a waste of time. Morgan Polikoff, an assistant professor of K-12 policy and leadership at the University of Southern California, told KTRK:
“If you just stop and think for a second about what are the sorts of skills that people are likely to be using in the future, it’s much more likely that keyboarding will help students succeed in careers and in school than it is that cursive will.”
Texas isn’t the only state bringing back cursive. According to Fox 8, a bill requiring children to know cursive by fifth grade was passed and signed in Ohio in December. Those changes are to be added to the curriculum by July.
The question of whether cursive is an important skill has been hotly debated on social media as well. On KXAN’s Facebook page, many commenters were in favor of the change.
However, some saw little value in adding cursive back into the classroom.
What do you think? Should schools go back to teaching cursive, or is it a skill whose time has passed?