Cursive writing: a romantic art or a useless hassle?

Graphic by Jennifer Kwan

Cursive writing has been under scrutiny lately. Is it a useless skill to have in a technology-driven world or is it a form of writing that should be preserved for the sake of keeping some type of handwriting in the curriculum? The Concordian looks at the pros and cons of cursive writing, and whether or not it should be preserved in the future.

Pro: The value in reviving a dying art

Catlin Spencer
Staff writer

In grade school, there were workbooks and piles of stencil sheets that were supposed to be filled out in an attempt to learn cursive writing. The problem was, our school gave very little priority to learning cursive; our teacher wasn’t given enough time to thoroughly grade our work, there were never any follow-ups and it was never used in any of the higher grades. Because of that, the majority of the students were able to forget cursive writing with little to no reprimand. Our school focused primarily on the new upcoming technology, and writing classes were replaced with keyboard lessons. I never learned proper cursive writing, and I’ve regretted it ever since not just because I can’t write well in cursive, but because my handwriting in general has suffered. It’s a slippery slope from eliminating cursive to losing handwriting to an over-reliance on technology – a fate that may be in store for future students if more schools decide to end handwriting classes like the principal of innovative teaching for Parkland School Division in Edmonton.

There are the times when things have to be handwritten, and not just scrawled, legibly enough to be read by anyone. For example, technology is not infallible; computers crash and deadlines are unforgiving. It may happen that work has to be written by hand. Also, final exams at Concordia, with the exception of take-home exams, must be handwritten and there are teachers that prohibit the use of laptops and tablets while requiring that students take notes. While no one else has to read a student’s notes, it would be embarrassing not being able to read your own writing, and even more so to lose marks on an exam because no one could read your answer.

Call it old-fashioned, but handwritten letters have always had a personal touch that you just can’t get with pixels and ink-jet printers. Whether it’s a thank you note or a love letter, no matter the font, it won’t have the same impact of a paper where each letter of every word was a done by the careful stroke of a pen or pencil. People appreciate the thought, and the time taken.

There is, however, hope for the art of script.

In an opposite measure than schools in Edmonton, a House panel in Idaho unanimously approved a bill in that would require public schools to teach cursive handwriting. The decision pointed to research that showed that handwriting courses help with visual recognition, refining motor skills and increases interest and capabilities in creative arts. There was also much concern over the possible loss of being able to read cursive, leading to a time when people will not be able to read old diaries, journals and important documents written in cursive. Generations of information could be lost, and we would become disconnected from a part of our past.

For these reasons, it would be a shame and a bad idea to eliminate handwriting from the curriculum in schools. It would mean the loss of an artform and a major blow to the quality of handwriting in general.

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Con: Out with the old and in with the technology

Robin Della Corte
Assistant news editor

When I was 10-years-old, hours and hours were devoted to mastering my lowercase k’s, z’s and uppercase G’s. Now, in a day of technology, these hours seem to have been wasted stressing over my cursive writing.

Today, more and more teachers have taken out cursive writing practice from their curriculum and replaced it with teaching students keyboarding and other computer-based communication.

Having only used my cursive writing skills in elementary school, I couldn’t be happier that teachers are finally realizing just how useless cursive writing has become.

George Couros, the principal of innovative teaching for Parkland School Division in Edmonton, told CTV News that both technology and literacy are developing but that “we need to really focus on what we do in school to help kids connect with the world.”

Going into highschool, I thought all my assignments would be handed in using cursive writing only, as my elementary teachers had prepared me. To my surprise, this wasn’t the case.

While I do recall having to give in a few handwritten assignments in my first year of high school, I’ve used my computer through high school, college and now, university.

In his letter to The Gazette, Robert Marcogliese argued that reading newspapers, instruction manuals, information documents, novels, university textbooks, Facebook, maps or even greeting cards, he “finds it impossible to remember any recent occasion when [he] had to read cursive text, or to practice [his] cursive writing skills.” The only time he remembers cursive is when signing cheques, which he believes will eventually become obsolete.

I don’t see the point in forcing children to learn a completely old-fashioned style of writing, when most teachers prefer students to hand in submissions which are typed.

It is a far better use of a child’s time to learn something undeniably useful to them, such as computer science and typing techniques.

There are some classes in college and university where teachers prefer if you take handwritten notes, but this hardly requires the perfection of each standardized letter.

When students are taking down notes while the teacher is speaking,few even bother trying to make it look neat. All they care about is getting the information down, and rightly so.

Ask yourself, when is your child ever going to use cursive writing? To write a fancy letter? No, because now, if you want to send a letter or message to your friend, it’s called an email or a text message.

I’m not saying to abolish learning to write by hand all together, but I think cursive writing should be excluded from elementary curriculums which should be updated in order to coincide with the times and to benefit children in the future.

Graphic by Jennifer Kwan

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