With the introduction of SB 73, Sen. Leising keeps up her fight to mandate cursive for elementary schools. Generally, I think educators and not the Indiana General Assembly should tend to the details of required school curriculum. On a personal level, as I’ve noted before, I’m very open to the idea that — given that instructional time is not infinite — schools might prioritize subjects other than cursive. Cursive writing is an anachronism. I have seen people arguing the mental benefits of writing over keyboarding, but I don’t think I’ve seen much in the way of advocacy separating out benefits from cursive that one does not also get from printing.
Mainly — I’ll confess — my bad attitude comes from the fact that I always hated writing in cursive, do not believe it has improved my life in any substantial way, and I stopped doing it as soon as I was permitted.
My entry from last year:
Sen. Leising has been tilting at this particular windmill for years since the State Board of Education made cursive discretionary for schools to teach. Advocates of cursive come up with post hoc rationalizations for why they care so much. It’s for the children, of course. But the justifications are specious:
“They need to be able to sign their name.”
Fine, spend a few hours one day teaching them to sign their name.
“It affects brain development.”
You get the same development from printing.
“They need to be able to read the original Declaration of Independence.”
When they get to this point, proponents of mandatory cursive are grasping at straws.
The fact is that cursive is the slide rule of writing. Nostalgia is the motivation for hanging on to it. The world is changing, and that’s upsetting. The offered rationales are pretexts to justify the underlying nostalgia. If we just discovered cursive today, we would be in no rush to force it on our kids.
If teachers and schools decide to spend limited class time on this mode of manufacturing letters, it’s not the end of the world, but making it mandatory is not a useful or necessary use of the General Assembly’s power.
On the subject of cursive versus printing and the lack of data concerning benefits from cursive that aren’t present with printing — and Sen. Leising’s statements on the matter — I’d recommend this comment to my previous blog entry by Kate Gladstone.