Benefits Of Cursive Penmanship

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I thought politicians had enough to fight over. Apparently not: Legislatures around the country are now debating the future of cursive penmanship.

When the Common Core standards were released in 2010, handwriting took a back seat to typing. Schools were told to ensure that all students could “demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills” by fourth grade, but they were required to teach students “basic features of print” only in kindergarten and first grade. Cursive was left out entirely.

This infuriated many teachers, parents and lawmakers. At least nine states and numerous districts have lobbied, successfully, to reintroduce cursive into public and publicly funded charter schools, and others have bills pending.

People talk about
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Many students now achieve typing automaticity — the ability to type without looking at the keys — at younger and younger ages, often by the fourth grade. This allows them to focus on higher-order concerns, such as rhetorical structure and word choice.

Some also argue that learning cursive teaches fine motor skills. And yet so did many other subjects that are arguably more useful, such as cooking, sewing and carpentry, and few are demanding the reintroduction of those classes.

These arguments are largely a side show to the real issues, which are cultural. In April, when the Louisiana State Senate voted to put cursive back into the public school curriculum, senators yelled “America!” in celebration, as though learning cursive were a patriotic
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Because they achieve automaticity quicker on the keyboard, today’s third graders may well become better writers as handwriting takes up less of their education. Keyboards are a boon to students with fine motor learning disabilities, as well as students with poor handwriting, who are graded lower than those who write neatly, regardless of the content of their expressions. This is known as the “handwriting effect,” proved by Steve Graham at Arizona State, who found that “when teachers are asked to rate multiple versions of the same paper differing only in legibility, neatly written versions of the paper are assigned higher marks for overall quality of writing than are versions with poorer penmanship.” Typing levels the playing field.

Ours may be the most writing-happy age in human history. Most students and adults write far more in a given day than they did just 10 or 20 years ago, choosing to write to one another over social media or text message instead of talking on the phone or visiting. The more one writes, the better a writer one becomes. There is no evidence that “text speak” like LOL has entered academic writing, or that students make more errors as a result. Instead, there is evidence that college students are writing more rhetorically complex essays, and at double the length, than they did a generation ago. The kids will be all

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