Cursive Is Making a Comeback

Cursive Is Making a Comeback
Image: (Wikimedia Commons )

It would seem that my love of needlessly curly letters is the most American thing about me. And soon, youths may even be able to read my handwriting.

According to The New York Times, all those hand-wringing grandmas who said the death of penmanship would be the death of civilization are getting their druthers. Even though Common Core did away with its handwriting requirements in 2010, many states, including Texas, Ohio, and Illinois are enacting measures to bring back cursive in elementary school classes. But before you celebrate with a dribble of your fountain pen, be warned that the shift back to cursive is also some jingoistic nonsense:

But in recent years, the reasoning for cursive became associated with “convention, tradition, conservatism,” says Anne Trubek, the author of The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting, and tied to discussions about school uniforms and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Cursive was also an indicator of red-blooded Americaness during the Cold War because apparently, commies love print. And these days, in my dear home state of Louisiana, making schoolchildren write in cursive is an important part of teaching them to love American things, like the Magna Carta:

Lawmakers in Louisiana supported an even broader measure, in part, because Magna Carta and the United States Constitution were written in cursive. State senators shouted “America!” when they unanimously approved it in 2016.

America!, indeed.

But studies show that learning to write, rather than type, is good for children:

Psychologists and neuroscientists say that handwriting positively affects brain development, motor skills, comprehension and memory. Cursive may be particularly helpful for those with developmental dysgraphia — motor-control difficulties in forming letters — and it may help prevent the reversal and inversion of letters, according to a 2012 report.

However, studies that simply say handwriting is good have been taken out of context by lawmakers pushing a cursive agenda. And at least one for-profit company has pushed dubious research to get cursive measures passed in order to more broadly sell instructional materials focused on handwriting.

Younger teachers hoping to give students the tools to navigate life in the digital age are more likely than older teachers to see cursive as boomer bullshit that wastes precious class time:

“‘Add typing skills, anti-racist pedagogy, add activism skills, add digital literacy,’ Noelle Mapes, a third-grade teacher at a public school on the Lower East Side of Manhattan told the Times. “‘There are so many other things.’”

Ok yeah. That’s fair.

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