Hope Mills, N.C. — 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.
"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."