Some States Ensure Penmanship Art Won’t Fade. Boston Globe December 2, 2012
For decades cursive handwriting has been a staple of elementary school, often an essential skill learned in the third grade. However, the introduction of the computer, and with it the keyboard, has led to a growing trend of typing over handwriting. In fact, penmanship has become an optional portion of the curriculum or even removed entirely in elementary schools across the country.
45 states are moving toward a national curriculum that does not have any guidelines for cursive writing, but does require computer keyboarding proficiency to be achieved in elementary school. Has the keyboard replaced the all-mighty pen?
Several states have decided to add cursive writing as a requirement to the national standards, including California, Massachusetts, and Georgia. These states that wish to preserve the art of hand writing are in the minority. Longhand has become obsolete in the digital age.
Everything from essays to standardized tests are being conducted on computers, pen and paper tests and essay writing is a thing of the past. Still, penmanship isn’t going down without a fight.
Many proponents believe cursive benefits the developing brain, improving coordination and motor skills. It also connects them to a past, our Constitution is written in elegant longhand. Many believe longhand to be an art of expression and a symbol of personality, and fear its disappearance will have implications on a new generation of students, still many believe it is simply a sign of technology replacing outdated means of communication.
While my cursive is shaky at best, it is a skill I learned early on, in third grade. While I can’t remember the last sentence I wrote out in flowing script, I can attest one important attribute to cursive– my signature. My autograph is a product of my lessons in cursive, without it I would still sign my name as it appears on my fifteen year old library card, in big block capital letters. But my signature isn’t just a stamp on legal documents, it is a sign of my personality and my individualism, It is uniquely mine. While digital signatures are becoming more common, it doesn’t leave the same unique mark my handwritten signature does. It has become my identity on paper. Will students without this skill grow up never identifying their own unique autograph? How will they make their own mark?
Surely the keyboard is becoming second nature for many students growing up today, and the pen is fading out, but I would be hard pressed to get rid of all my writing utensils. Longhand is an art that many people utilize every day without a second thought, scribbling out a signage that has become a reflex.
As we push toward the future we cannot forget our past. Students without a cursive curriculm could lack the very basic markings we end our letters and our legal documents with. Cursive script may be a dated and inefficient means of communicating through writing, but there is something uniquely personal about writing out your own name in your own way.