Yesterday evening I posted a question to my Facebook friends. I asked the elementary teachers and parents with children in elementary school if handwriting was a grade on a student’s report card and if cursive writing was still part of the curriculum. The results were varied.
Though one pattern did emerge in the responses from my educator friends. Cursive handwriting was either made optional or removed from the curriculum in Dallas area schools to make way for materials related to standardized tests. My friend Sarah that has taught in Dallas and now teaches at a small school district in rural East Texas said that she now teaches cursive as part of her 5th grade art class. My gut reaction to that piece of information is that late elementary or middle school art classes may be a good home for cursive education in the future.
From the parents the results were all over the place. Parents had children that were learning cursive in Texas, South Carolina, Washington, and Virginia in both public and private schools. In some of the schools handwriting was graded and it others it was not. In Texas and Washington there were also those had children that were not taught cursive.
A common response from teachers and parents expressed a desire for cursive to remain or to return to elementary education. Yet, when I pressed for a justification I couldn’t get many responses that weren’t attached to nostalgia. With the exception of my friend Jennifer, who’s daughter has been required to write in cursive since the second grade at her private school in South Carolina, saying that she had read research that claimed writing in cursive helps children with ADHD pay closer attention. That is a big reason, and more on that in a moment.
This morning I woke and went to Twitter while drinking my coffee and learned two things almost immediately. One, there is an organization called the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association (WIMA). Two, today is National Handwriting Day which is sponsored by WIMA to commemorate the birthday of John Hancock. I recommend going over to Twitter and checking #nationalwritingday
Here are some highlights I’ve found so far:
From The PBS News Hour a report on the status of cursive education in schools.
From the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York a timeline on the history of Chinese calligraphy.
From the New York Public Library an interview with Tom Wolfe on handwriting and humility.