By Rebecca Peterson
For the Deseret News
Cursive is under attack. Typing is taking the place of this stylized handwriting, and cursive is being taken out of school curriculum, but at what cost? Few believe that it is an important skill worth teaching. However, learning cursive benefits us in a way that computers cannot, creates a connecting link between the generations and improves the ability to learn basic skills.
Typing presents a faster means of communicating. However, handwriting provides benefits that the technology movement has left behind. Using computers frequently has altered our thinking. Jessica O’Hara, an English professor at Pennsylvania State University, states that dependency on computers and other technological devices has caused people to lose the ability to concentrate for long periods of time. Rather than fully and carefully reading articles and text found on the Internet, most people only skim briefly over them. The world is becoming less patient, less willing to take the time to do things perfectly and completely from the beginning. This affects society. Our work is deteriorating in quality. Hard work and persistence are becoming rarer and more valuable characteristics. Returning to the basics and taking the time to do things carefully and completely, like cursive requires, counteracts these effects from technology.
Another aspect of cursive is its undeniable connection to our collective heritage. Important documents, such as the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, were written in beautiful handwriting. Soon the time will come, if cursive continues to be neglected, that these documents will become unreadable to the younger generations. The original documents that are so important to American culture will be unread, unstudied and unappreciated. Furthermore, a large majority of primary sources, which are written in cursive, will become virtually indecipherable and lost.
Forfeiting cursive in schools is like severing a tie between the generations. Cursive allows one to form an important connection with the generations that have gone before through their original letters, journals and writing. History is written in cursive; we cannot allow such a strong part of ourselves to become a foreign language.
Learning to write in cursive helps young children learn basic and necessary skills, such as reading and fine motor skills. Cursive fixes the problem children have of getting their letters mixed up and writing them backwards. Samuel L. Blumenfeld, an author and educator, explains that the joined-up letters makes learning phonics and reading much easier because it teaches the grouping of words and makes the blending of sounds more apparent. This means that the responsibility of teaching the crucial skill of reading is much less frustrating for students and teachers.
Writing by hand, especially the more intricate lettering of cursive, is also important in developing fine motor skills. These skills aid in manipulating small objects and are something that children are often lacking. Learning cursive helps improve physical development as well as improving the capability to learn to read and write.
Cursive is relevant and important in today’s world for myriad reasons. It counteracts the effects of technology by installing patience and quality into our work. Cursive is the link between us and our history. In short, cursive has a much bigger effect than anyone realizes, for us and future generations. Some things are simply not worth eliminating for the sake of efficiency. Cursive needs to be taught in schools in order to keep moving forward.
Rebecca Peterson is a 4.0 GPA senior and visual arts Sterling Scholar. After extensive research, she became concerned that taking cursive out of school curriculum will affect future generations.