The Exponent has an article on Sen. Leising’s perennial efforts to mandate cursive in Indiana’s schools. It’s of local interest since Rep. Klinker joined her in a sort of compromise measure to have schools report data on cursive instruction. The article didn’t really give any voice to the people (like me) who oppose a cursive mandate, so I thought I’d go ahead an comment yet again on the issue.
Knowing how to read and write cursive is not as important as it once was. Even when I was a kid, the time spent on the subject was out of line with its value. Now, cursive has much less value than it once did. Schools should decide for themselves how much time is justified as compared to other subjects. The proponents concerns are generally over-wrought appeals to emotion. “They won’t be able to read the Constitution!” There are digital copies and if it’s really important you can teach them to read the Constitution in a fairly rapid amount of time. But, keep in mind, almost none of us could make sense of Magna Carta and it’s pretty foundational to Western Democracies. “Kids won’t be able to sign their names!” As the article involved demonstrates, this can be taught in a matter of minutes.
I think cursive is on its way out. As more and more people find the form of communication archaic, the burden will shift to people inclined to write in cursive to communicate in a different way. I think I still have some 5 1/4 floppies in the basement, but I would never transmit information using them, expecting that a recipient will have a 1541 floppy drive available. Also, not really in this article, but a lot of times proponents will dive into arguments about memory and motor skills. Those benefits are largely realized when the form of writing is printing rather than cursive.
The bottom line is that time is a limited resource. Time spent learning cursive is time not spent learning something else. I trust my local teachers and school officials to weigh the costs and benefits a lot more than I do the folks in the General Assembly.