Cursive In A Digital Age
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Health and Wellness

Cursive In A Digital Age

It hasn't died just yet

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Cursive In A Digital Age
NPR

With new Common Core standards released that forego the teaching of cursive in schools, a debate has arisen over whether cursive is truly necessary anymore. Pro-cursive sentiment focuses on tradition, learning benefits and real world uses. Anti-cursive advocates, on the other hand, focus on how obsolete the writing style has become in an age of computers.

Half a century ago, school work was written by hand and in cursive. At the time, it was the fastest method of getting ideas down on a page. However, now that computers are becoming more and more accessible, it has become faster and more efficient to submit typed copies of school work or job related reports. This clash between what keyboarding advocates see as an archaic and inefficient practice and a faster, more universal method of scribing is one of their central arguments. Furthermore, they argue that replacing cursive lessons with reading lessons, for example, would be a better use of time now that many schools regularly teach keyboarding in elementary school.

On the flip side, advocates of cursive remind people that we are living in a sort of hybrid age. Handwritten letters, such as thank you cards or pen pal letters, are still valued methods of communication and many are written in cursive. Though typed documents are the norm now, cursive is not yet extinct. There is an example of this in Florida v. George Zimmerman. Witness Rachel Jeantel was asked to read aloud a letter that she dictated to a friend which you can watch here. However, she admits that she isn't able to because she can't read cursive. Like archaic English diction, yes, our language changes with the times. Similarly, one day cursive might become obsolete, but that day is not today.

Furthermore, advocates of cursive make a case that it helps children with dyslexia as well as improves fine motor skills. This Psychology Today article (here) explains that because each cursive letter is very distinct and unique, it will make learning to read and write easier for children who are dyslexic. Additionally, the article states that "Virginia Berninger, a researcher and professor of educational psychology at the University of Washington, says that brain scans during handwriting show activation of massive regions of the brain involved in thinking, language, and working memory."

However, anti-cursive advocates argue that one can also improve hand-eye coordination through sports or musical instruments. And activities such as puzzles, mind games, or any interesting subject to a student can have the same benefits for the brain.

What it really comes down to, then, is tradition. We are swiftly transitioning between a handwriting dominated society and a keyboarding dominated one, but right now we're stuck in those in-between days. Cursive is most heavily used by older generations while some younger people don't know how to write it or can't even read it. As someone who can read and write cursive, I'm a little sad that it's no longer being practiced as widely as before. On the other hand, though our digital society doesn't necessitate cursive, that doesn't mean that it has to die.

Signatures, for example, are one way we're keeping cursive alive. Think about how fast you write your signature. Now think about how much longer it would take if you had to print it. Though we don't always appreciate it, cursive is the qwerty keyboard of handwriting: designed specifically to help the writer or typist go faster. So, though it may be obsolete in certain settings, cursive hasn't died just yet.

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