Goshen News, Goshen, IN

April 10, 2013

Technology makes cursive unnecessary


THE GOSHEN NEWS

— Technology is continuing its inexorable march through modern society, bringing new, exciting opportunities and leaving many people who are skittish about change, nervous and anxious. The move away from cursive writing is a classic example of how technology is changing our world.

As Maureen Hayden, our Statehouse correspondent wrote in Monday’s newspaper, state Sen. Jean Leising wants to require Indiana elementary teachers to teach cursive writing to their students. This legislation is opposite of what the Indiana Department of Education decided in 2011. The IDOE then dropped the requirement for teaching cursive and put keyboarding proficiency in its core standards for students. The only reason we can think of that teaching cursive writing should be mandated, would be to standardize the practice statewide. But the stronger argument is to drop the teaching of cursive writing statewide or to require just basic cursive skills, so all Indiana students have the same skill sets.



As the General Assembly and IDOE have mandated all kinds of teaching standards, teachers are left to scramble to teach all those standards each day. Seeing as cursive writing will rarely be used by today’s students, dropping that subject frees up time for teachers to instruct students in other required core areas.

There’s no doubt that cursive writing is elegant and can be very artistic. Also, when historic documents are examined, we know that the writer actually touched that page and put their thoughts down using a pen and ink. But who nowadays writes regularly in “longhand,” as the practice was once known?

Debit cards are making signatures on checks a thing of the past. The shorthand used in texting and Tweeting is eliminating all kinds of writing, including the once popular emails. Business executives correspond electronically and any signature in that correspondence is typed in “printed” style or is a faux signature created by a computer, cell phone or tablet. Even the IRS accepts e-filers “signatures,” which are five-numeral personal identification numbers.



And we can’t think of any high school teacher who would rather read 100 five-page history or science reports submitted by their students in 100 different styles of cursive. Students are now encouraged to send their report to the teacher’s email account via their school-issued laptop computer. Simple is better.

Cursive writing? It’s on the way out. It has been the standard for human communications for centuries, but like walking being the standard for human locomotion until the wheel was invented, cursive writing will stick around for more centuries, but it won’t be the preferred way to communicate.