Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Keeping Cursive in School

By Sean Scarpiello

There has recently been a running debate among educators on the usefulness of teaching cursive in elementary schools. Everybody remembers spending countless hours in second and third grade perfecting their cursive. Today, teachers are thinking about cutting it from the curriculum for several reasons. Educators are not calling to question the importance of cursive, but some feel that it isn’t worth it. There are several pros and cons for educating today’s youth cursive.

First, the major problem that arises with teaching cursive is the opportunity cost. Teachers ask, “What else can I be doing in class during the time that it takes to teach second graders cursive.” This question makes many teachers think because there is a large chunk of class time dedicated to teaching cursive. Students practically are relearning the alphabet in a more fancy and complicated style. This means they need to spend a lot of time constantly writing out their cursive over and over again. For me, cursive was practiced first thing each morning for about an hour over a time span of about three to four months. Each hour of dedicated to cursive can add up over time and this time could have easily been elsewhere.

Another problem that accompanies the instruction of cursive is that cursive is a dying art as technology is quickly taking over. Many argue that people never use cursive to write letters as email has taken over. Even in the workplace, documents are typically typed and if not people just print because it is easier. Therefore, it seems preposterous that schools spend a lot of time on cursive when it is used little, if at all, in the future. This especially holds true when teachers see that time teaching cursive can be changed to time teaching students to use computers and other technology. In the long run, it would definitely serve students better if they were taught to use the computer and type rather than learning to write in cursive.

On the other hand, there are still many arguments for keeping cursive in school. For one, students need to learn it for signing signatures in the professional world and even in their daily lives as adults. Cursive has always been regarded as professional and practiced only the well-educated individuals in society. If there is an end to cursive, many people would come across as being flat out dumb. Even today, too many students do not know how to professionally sign a letter or signature. It is still important to not completely cut cursive from curriculums.

The best alternative to this problem would be to assign cursive as homework. Also, cursive could be done independently over summer. This would give teachers more time in class to teach other important things that may be overlooked when trying to squeeze cursive into a full curriculum. An advantage to cursive is that it easy to learn and can easily be picked up by students on their own at home and independently. This advantage should be taken advantage of by teachers. Especially when there are subjects taught in classes that are not as easy to grasp for second and third grade students.

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