Education

NC schools write off cursive instruction

Posted January 28, 2013
Updated January 29, 2013

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— Cursive handwriting, once a standard part of the three R's in elementary school, is no longer required to be taught in North Carolina.

The death of cursive instruction is linked to the national common core standards that North Carolina and 44 other states have adopted to standardize educational goals nationwide. The state leaves the decision on whether to teach cursive up to local school systems.

"We spend a lot more time in the computer lab, so they're learning (Microsoft) Word and word-processing as opposed to cursive handwriting," Lynn Dingwell, a third-grade teacher at Ed Baldwin Elementary School in Hope Mills, said Monday.

The only cursive to be found in Dingwell's classroom was on a how-to poster, with each stroke numbered as if teaching a dance.

"I think it's a lost art," she said, adding that most of her students can write their first and last names in cursive.

Student Xenia Glasco said her grandmother is teaching her cursive.

“The way my grandma does it, it’s kind of hard to write, but I like the way she writes it," Xenia said.

Michael Smith, a communications professor at Campbell University, said there's more to cursive than elegance, and he fears that students' cognitive skills will be less developed without it. Cursive handwriting chart Writing on wall for end of cursive instruction

"It's motor skills. It's cognitive skills. It's left to right. It's interactive – you make those loops (and) one loop connects to another loop," Smith said. "It leads to a higher order of thinking. One idea leads to another idea."

Still, teachers said that classroom time is at a premium to meet common core standards, which emphasize computer keyboard skills.

"Our goal for that is to have boys and girls at the end of 12th grade college- and career-ready," said Sue Moody, an instructional coach at Baldwin Elementary. "I challenge you to find me a college or career that requires cursive writing."

232 Comments

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  • amy27605 Jan 31, 11:45 a.m.

    This will be a great loss to the lives of these children. It activates the brain differently from typing on a computer, enhancing memory and connection to the content, facilitating healing in the process of journal-writing, etc.

    "Writing by hand is old-fashioned, but it helps us to survive and connect in a modern world." ~ Julia Cameron

  • goldenosprey Jan 30, 2:56 p.m.

    "The United States Constitution is written in cursive. The Declaration of Independence is written in cursive. "

    When people read these documents do they read the original documents or booklets in easy to read modern print? The Bible is written in ancient Greek, among other languages. Do you pepper your legal writings with "res ipsa loquitur" and "nunc pro tunc" etc?

    Kids need to learn foreign languages from foreign lands, not obsolete scripts from our own past.

  • goldenosprey Jan 30, 2:51 p.m.

    I ditched cursive as soon as my teachers let me. It's hard to read. I went to college and grad school before widespread use of laptops and tablets in class and took notes furiously, writing with either hand, able to keep up in print.

    A while back I bet there was a crowd lamenting the discontinuation of runes on slate tablets. Civilization somehow survived.

  • dcatz Jan 30, 12:15 p.m.

    "Try taking good notes in college without cursive writing, is way too slow to print everything and keep up with a quick professor"

    Given that everyone has laptops and tablets now....

  • jondoe Jan 30, 9:28 a.m.

    I don't think a lot of people are paying attention to what is actually happening here. It says schools write off CURSIVE not WRITING. We are not taking out writing as a whole, only the old-fashioned version of it called cursive. I see no problem with that.

  • melaniesvinis Jan 29, 7:29 p.m.

    Try taking good notes in college without cursive writing, is way too slow to print everything and keep up with a quick professor

  • jetset Jan 29, 6:37 p.m.

    Remember, don't we want to be above and beyond the other countries when it comes to education? so, I guess ALL "worthwhile" countries do not requre their students to be able to write and read cursive? Please! OY.

  • jharshaw Jan 29, 5:58 p.m.

    There is no requirement for a legal signature to be in cursive.

  • garycassis1 Jan 29, 5:43 p.m.

    Does this mean that when I write a letter to my 2-1/2 yr old granddaughter 10 years from now, she won't be able to read it???

  • TomnRR Jan 29, 5:05 p.m.

    ‎"Our goal for that is to have boys and girls at the end of 12th grade college- and career-ready," said Sue Moody, an instructional coach at Baldwin Elementary. "I challenge you to find me a college or career that requires cursive writing."

    Ms. Moody, your students will not be prepared for college without at least being able to read cursive, and the best way to learn how to read it is to learn how to write it. I can assure you that, as a college prof, they will have to be able to read my notes and those of my colleagues written in cursive on their returned papers. I will not be printing my comments on their theses.

    For those who argue that those in favor of abolishing cursive writing in the curriculum, please consider that a handwritten paper demands that the student THINK before they write.

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