Cursive Rebounding in Educational Legislation

February 14, 2019

Cursive, the art of the penmanship from days of old, has been going the way of the dodo bird in recent decades. The elaborate style of committing words to parchment decorated with slants, and seamlessly flowing rivers of ink, spanned great playwrights and poetry, but was left to the barren abyss when the United States Department of Education dropped cursive writing from the standard national curricula in 2011. Coupled with the change in standards, the advent of the pencil, pen, and keyboard have all compounded to hasten the ink quill to bend the knee. However, some States are using modern ink to legislate a way back to the past and bring back the lost art of cursive from the purgatory of human inventions.

Just recently, Governor Kasich of Ohio signed Ohio House Bill 58 in December 2018 that amends OH ST § 3301.0726 to include the instruction of handwriting such that students will be able to be literate in cursive by the end of their fifth grade. The amended language now reads:

The department of education shall include supplemental instructional materials on the development of handwriting as a universal skill in the English language arts model curriculum under division (B) of section 3301.079 of the Revised Code for grades kindergarten through five. The instructional materials shall be designed to enable students to print letters and words legibly by grade three and create readable documents using legible cursive handwriting by the end of grade five.

Ohio joins the rank of 12 other states that have statutes regarding educational instruction in schools about cursive. The following is a list of states which recently added cursive back to educational curriculum:

Additionally, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington all had bills introduced in the legislature regarding cursive instruction in 2018.

While cursive has been on the back-burner, several reasons are attributed to its come-back. Legislators who are proposing the return of cursive are looking at research that shows cursive hand-writing can help students focus, and improve spelling and memory. Additional research from neurophysiologists has suggested that “different parts of the brain are stimulated when reading letters learned by writing them on paper, rather than typing them on a keyboard.” Such research indicates that “[t]he movement and tactile response involved in handwriting leaves a memory trace in the sensorimotor part of the brain, something that doesn’t happen from the repetitive nature of typing.” In addition, cursive writing allows its wielder to write quickly by making loops and swooshes there-by making their writing faster allowing for an easier way to take notes.

Despite the benefits of cursive, or hand-writing in general, the advent of typing and texting has made it much easier to forget the feeling of reading a hand-written letter from a loved-one or the pride you take when you read parchment with your own labor. And, while we are on the brink of artificial intelligence and voice recognition breakthroughs, for children in thirteen states, if not more, cursive is making one more loop around the block.

Image: REUTERS

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