Assignment: Education-Cursive Handwriting

Second and third graders at Lawrence Lawson Elementary School in Sparta are learning how to write in cursive.

“I feel it’s an important skill,” said Elizabeth Path, two/three multi-age teacher at Lawrence-Lawson Elementary. “It’s one that they love to learn. They’re excited to learn it. They come to school and if I ask them what do you want to learn this year cursive is always one of the first things they tell me.”

But with preparations for state assessment tests becoming a larger part of the classroom curriculum and the added push to teach our kids 21st century skills, some educators across the nation and locally are starting to wonder if cursive handwriting is still necessary.

“Our reading, language arts committee has already met to discuss cursive,” said Path. “It’s been a topic of discussion for the past couple of years. They have not made a formal decision yet. There’s some talk of we’ll keep it in and there’s talk that we might get rid of it.”

Cursive is still widely taught in the U.S. public and private elementary schools, according to a 2007 nationwide study on handwriting instruction by Vanderbilt University. However, even though it’s taught many kids aren’t required to use it on a regular basis.

“Once we learned it, we never really followed through on it,” said Sparta High School senior Danny Huber. “I guess we like learned how to do it and we just kind of put it away.”

“I would use printing because that’s what I always use,” said Sparta High School junior Morgan Freeman, “and after I learned it I stopped using cursive handwriting.”

And according to this Sparta High School English teacher, these students are not alone when it comes to their preference for printing.

“I just happened to assign an essay yesterday where the students wrote paragraphs for me while I was gone,” said Sparta High School English teacher Maureen Young, “and one student out of 72 chose to use cursive in communicating with me.” Lisa: Everybody else printed? “Everybody else printed.”

Interestingly enough, even though it isn’t being used by most students or required by some teachers both groups feel it still should be taught.

“I don’t know when or how we can stop it because they’re going to continue to see it for years,” said Young. “How could they read the declaration of independence?”

“I think they should still learn it because they do need to sign their name in cursive for maybe an application or something like that,” said Freeman.

And for this second and third grade teacher, even if teaching cursive wasn’t something she was required to do in the years to come she says she’d still find a way to teach it.

“It won’t be taught in any other grade,” said Path. “So, if I don’t teach it they’re not going to get it.”

And that could make reading the English language foreign to American students. �@

The director of instructional service in the Sparta School District says that his school district still does see the need to teach cursive handwriting.

Currently, the La Crosse, Onalaska and Holmen School Districts are also teaching cursive, and they have no plans to stop teaching this handwriting skill