I guess you’ve heard the earth-shattering information: Kids who don’t learn cursive are cursed. At least according to Maria Konnikova in the New York Times, who says, “Children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information. In other words, it’s not just what we write that matters — but how."
Well, listen up, researchers: I went to laboratory school on a university campus umpty ump years ago, and they didn’t teach cursive! This was one of the big experiments they chose to run, along with teaching us New Math and Spanish. Did no one tabulate the results of this policy? Are they just now guessing at what happens when kids don’t learn cursive?
Someone should call all the alumni of my Edith Bowen Elementary School and see how they fared. Today a psychologist from France, Stanislas Dehaene, says we missed adequate mental stimulation (which makes me want to shout, “This explains EVERYTHING!”)
Apparently you need to do more than get words down on paper; they’ve done brain imaging that shows this cursed business—I mean, this cursive business-- helps your brain in ways that keyboarding does not: You have to pay attention and think about what you’re doing, plus use fine motor skills and then practice. Or so says William Klemm, a neuroscientist at Texas A&M.
Experts also say today’s technology has wrecked the beautiful penmanship of yesteryear, and that teachers are now teaching to the test, instead of spending a few minutes on loops and ovals. (Not everyone agrees-- Common Core folks see pen and paper as antiquated.)
And, needless to say, you should see my handwriting. I did take a summer class in cursive at the local junior high when I was 10 or so, just to lock down that skill, but was I a few years too late? Am I like those women whose feet were bound in China, only my brain was bound in the U.S.?
My mother grew up in South Carolina and learned The Palmer Method, and to her dying day had “a beautiful hand” when she wrote.
My own writing is a schizophrenic-looking blend of manuscript and cursive, like those ransom notes from kidnappers that are cut and pasted from various fonts. And goodness knows what’s going on up there in the Gray Matter Zone.
So I’m going to vote for keeping cursive in our schools. Those who argue to do away with it say it’s less efficient, meaning it isn’t as fast as printing. I’m sorry—is there a race I don’t know about? Must we scribble down our reports faster than our brains can generate thought? Maybe this is why spelling has taken a tumble, along with clear and coherent sentences. Maybe it would be good thing if we all just took a breath and slowed down. And maybe put a little upswing on the tail of that T.
It's a good thing to listen to your mother, right? So check out my Youtube Mom videos and, while I won't show you how to write in cursive, you'll learn wonderful life skills you can write home about.