The ‘Lost Art’ of Cursive Handwriting Is Making a Classroom Comeback

If you were in high school several decades ago, you understand how important it was to know how to write in cursive writing. That stopped almost completely at one point, however, perhaps in the early 2000s when computer technology was taking over. Writing certainly has seen a downfall and most people either type things out on their computer or text using their smartphone screen. It makes you wonder what we would do if someday technology failed and we had to start communicating with handwritten letters again.

It seems as if at least one state in the United States is taking this seriously. Starting in the 2019-2020 school year, Texas elementary school students will have to learn cursive writing. This is due to a modification of the “English Language Arts and Reading” section of Texas Education Code, known as the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), in 2017.

According to the Texas Education Code, Texas students from second grade will “develop handwriting by accurately forming all cursive letters using appropriate strokes when connecting letters.” They will be expected to write legibly in cursive writing by the time they are in fifth grade.

A Department of educational psychology at the University of Texas at Austin professor, Diane Schallert said that improving writing skills could enhance the learning for the students.

“With language comprehension, there’s this reciprocity between producing and comprehending,” Schallert said. “By seeing the letter being formed slowly at your control, you’re considering its sound-symbol correspondence.”

Suzanne Baruch Asherson also had something to say on the subject. She is an occupational therapist and a presenter for an early childhood educational company. She said that cursive handwriting improves the communication between the two hemispheres of the brain. When we print or type, that factor is absent. She added: “the physical act of writing in cursive leads to increased comprehension and participation.”

Teachers have discussed how implementing cursive writing classes has been difficult. It would mean that something had to be omitted so it can take its place.

“There’s only so much time in the day,” Schallert said. “Whatever you decide to put into the curriculum, you’re deciding to take something out. It’s a big decision to decide to exclude it or include it. That’s hard.”

“Schools have transitioned from spending an enormous time on letters to switching to computer keyboarding,” said Howie Schaffer, spokesman for Public Education Network, a public school advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.

Most Texas elementary schools do not teach cursive handwriting at this time.

Even though there may be challenges associated with this adjustment, there are many who feel it is a positive change.

“I know we have the internet and things of the sort, but I think it’s a good habit to teach them old skills,” Nehemiah Oatis, a parent in Kileen, Texas, said.

At the Temple Independent School District in Texas, Elizabeth Giniewicz, who is the executive director of elementary curriculum noted how important it was for children to communicate using the spoken and written word.

Additional benefits can include eye-hand coordination and developing motor skills.

“It helps make those connections and the fluid strokes and all of the lettering so your brain just develops appropriately,” Giniewicz said.

Perhaps the lost art of cursive writing is not gone for good after all.

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