Do Kids Still Need To Learn Cursive?


“When the new Common Core educational standards were crafted, penmanship classes were dropped,” reports the Associated Press. “But at least seven of the 45 states that adopted the standards are fighting to restore the cursive instruction.”

The Common Core standards is a controversy in its own right, but what about teaching kids cursive specifically? Is it still needed?

Before we enrolled my daughter in kindergarten this year we talked with her teacher who told us about handwriting. Our daughter would be taught the basics, how to put down letters, words and sentences on a paper neatly and efficiently, but that handwriting really wasn’t that big of a priority.

I agreed with the teacher. I think students ought to be taught a functional form of handwriting, but cursive seems more style than function. Where it may have served a purpose in the past when handwriting was a much more important form of communication, in the present most communication takes place via a keyboard of some sort.

At a time when, as education spending soars, we’re already struggling with academic achievement in our schools do we really need to be focused on stylized handwriting?

I don’t think so. Not any more than horse riding lessons should be a part of a school’s curriculum.

Though this, yet again, is an argument for decentralized education policy and school choice. How I feel about handwriting, as a parent, is most definitely not how all parents feel about handwriting. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, instead of top-down decisions on curriculum, parents could pick and choose among schools offering varying education priorities? Empowered in their choices by a school voucher?

Education would be a far less contentious issue, and schools/teachers would better serve their communities, if school choice allowed matter such as whether or not cursive should be taught to be settled through choice not pitched battles in the political arena.

Rob Port

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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