Cursive writing facing extinction in face of technology

Cursive writing is no longer tested in some Canadian classes. (CBC)

In the not so distant past, it was a rite of passage for student in elementary school to sit through lessons on cursive writing, slowly learning how to shape connected-up letters in the hope of one day having legible penmanship.

But with the increased presence of keyboards everywhere, the days of cursive writing may be numbered and schools are seeing the writing on the wall.

As the end of cursive writing appears to be nigh, many parents and educators probably find themselves wondering: should we still be teaching cursive writing?

There are at least 45 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces (Ontario and Quebec) that have nixed cursive writing as an official part of the curriculum. Other provinces, like Nova Scotia, allow teachers to decide how often students need to practice their cursive. And why should it be part of the curriculum? With limited time to cram everything in from the curriculum as it is, cursive writing is just one more thing teachers have to help students with in light of the pervasiveness of electronic communication.

“It’s part of the discussion around the evolving nature of literacy and literacies,” Pino Buffone, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board’s superintendent of curriculum, told The Ottawa Citizen. “[Cursive] is one of the many modes through which we communicate, but really our focus from a curricular perspective is on the ability to think, to reason, to defend a point of view – those kinds of things – through whatever form of communication is most amenable to the point you’re trying to make.”

For those who believe that cursive writing remains integral, though, all hope is not lost, as some U.S. states and Canadian provinces continue to make cursive writing mandatory. In P.E.I., cursive writing remains a mandatory part of the curriculum in grades 3 and 4, CBC reports.

“Often once they learn it they are sort of left to their own devices whether they choose to use it or not," P.E.I. teacher Laurie Targett told CBC. “I have the expectation here that once they learn it they continue to use it the rest of the year.”

And there certainly are arguments for keeping cursive in the curriculum. In a recent Mashable story, occupational therapist Suzanne Asherson says there’s a link between cursive writing and brain development, and it should still be considered a part of a valuable skill set students are taught.

“In today’s world… children need to know how to both use keyboarding to type, as well as being able to pick up a pencil or a pen and be able to write,” Asherson said to Mashable. “Both skills are necessary and should be taught to our children in order to have functional adults who are efficient in their jobs and in the real world.”

Unfortunately for Asherson, her last example kind of defeats her own point – as an employed adult, most of my work is done on a keyboard, as is the case for many Canadians. And while I do often take notes, it isn’t in cursive, it’s in print (as my cursive is barely legible by myself, let alone anyone else). Aside from signing my name, I rarely, if ever, use cursive.

Then again, my experience may be unique.

Right Click readers, do you use cursive writing in your day-to-day life? Should cursive still be part of the school curriculum?

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