No need for cursive writing anymore?
Teacher tries to encourage cursive writing by awarding fountain pens to students.
Thanks to computers, email, texting, and tweeting, the writing’s been on the wall for cursive for years. According to Kentucky’s Lexington Herald Leader, a local high school teacher who recently tried to reinvigorate it by awarding fountain pens to students said, “Some of them didn’t know what a fountain pen was.”
Supporters of cursive say there is a societal responsibility to keep it alive, and that much more than penmanship is at stake. It’s “a gift” said one university professor, a lifelong skill, the demise of which creates cultural deficits, like an inability to read historical documents. Without learning handwriting — with its slower, contemplative pace — children’s brains will “develop in a different way that no one has really thought through,” said a neuroplasticity expert.
But others say there is zero need to save a communication form which fails to prepare students for a practical future. “Do people need to be able to write? Of course,” said one online commenter, who continued, “Is cursive the best method? Probably not, given how few people use it on a daily basis.” “Teach your kid to type accurately and quickly,” one insisted, while another suggested, “Kids should be taught how to print, because it’s all they’ll ever need if they find themselves without a cell phone to text on, or a keyboard to type with.”
Roger Guffey, who teaches at Lafayette High School, has been bemoaning the decline in the use and appreciation of cursive writing. So, he recently had students in his four studies-skills classes polish up their penmanship by holding a cursive writing contest.
The best writers got blue ribbons; the best of the best each got a new fountain pen.
"Some of them didn't know what a fountain pen was," Guffey quipped.
That alone could be a symptom of cursive writing's decline. On those rare occasions today when we do pick up a pen, the emphasis is on speed, not style. So, a cheap ballpoint will do.
E-mail and text messaging are today's preferred forms of communication. Indeed, it's possible to go for weeks without writing anything in cursive.
Educators say generally that time devoted to penmanship in today's classrooms is shrinking