Cursive in the Curriculum

7th graders
Schoolcraft seventh graders work on their newspaper project in Karin Lynch’s class. She is the photographer.

By Schoolcraft 7th graders Mia Mulder, Allison Centilla, Caleb Goldschmeding, and Daniel Standish (Editor, Writer, Photographer, and Interviewer)

Do you write in cursive? If so, this is the article for you.

Cursive is only learned for two years in elementary school, but why?

Matt Webster, principal of Schoolcraft Elementary School, told us that kids and adults have many more tools for communication at their disposal today than ever before.

Long ago, outside of verbally communicating with others, a penned or typed letter were among your only other options. Today, students are creating websites, writing blogs, developing podcasts or even hosting “hangouts” that allow them to talk to and see one another virtually.

What is true with technology advancing and becoming more and more accessible is that writing your words out on paper isn’t a student’s only option nowadays. Students at Schoolcraft Elementary still learn cursive in 3rd grade and practice it each week throughout 4th-grade but are not directly taught that skill in other grades.

“Cursive writing expectations of the past have given way to keyboarding expectations on the educational technology tools of the 21st Century,” according to David Powers, Schoolcraft Middle School Principal. “Although students are introduced to cursive in elementary school, the fact remains that middle and high students are not mandated to produce handwritten essays, and our graduates are thriving in this new age of technology.”

When asked why we only learn it for such a short period of time, Mr. Webster said, “You might learn a standard until you’ve mastered it and then you move on to other standards. We teach you how to communicate in multiple ways in elementary school, including cursive, and then it changes in middle school.”

Many people bring up the issue that we need cursive to sign checks and other important documents, like buying a home or a car.

Most children know how to write their name in cursive, but they also need to know how to read it.

Mrs. Kathy Descheneau, a former teacher of Schoolcraft Elementary, is worried about how. “It’s unfortunate that, in my way of looking at it, the day is going to come when people won’t be able to read primary source documents from the past.”

If you think about it, in the future of cursive could be a secret language because people won’t be able to read it.

According to Mrs. Descheneau cursive is only in the curriculum in 3rd and 4th grade because the curriculum was too full in the other grades. There were already more important things to learn, and they couldn’t fit so much into one whole year.

We asked Mr. Webster if he minded the fact that people think cursive is gone.

He told us, “Cursive is not gone at Schoolcraft. It’s intentionally taught and practiced for two years in a row. All of the educators at Schoolcraft care about what our students learn and we want them to be ready with whatever direction they go in life.”

The problem is, like Mrs. Descheneau said, if a child decides to be a historian, that child may not be able to read important documents from the past. Many children don’t know how to read cursive, and a vast majority don’t know how to write in it. This is not just a community problem, this is a worldwide problem.

With this being said, should cursive be taught more than just in 3rd and 4th grade? Other things to consider are should our middle school teachers expect us to use cursive more?
Better yet, should we the students push ourselves to use it more often than we do? Think about that.

So, I’ll leave it up to you. Do you, the person reading this, think cursive is worth investing in?

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