The Argument For Cursive Handwriting and Clearer Thinking

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Just as in fashion, trends in education come and go. An average school day might no longer contain Latin, compulsory religious studies, or home economics, and it may not even include that old staple of primary education: cursive. As old-fashioned handwriting lessons make way for courses in keyboard skills, graphic design, and coding, some research suggests that this trend isn't necessarily for the best.

The proponents of a cursive-less classroom have some strong arguments on their side. There are only so many hours in the day, and certain skills need to be prioritized in an increasingly digital age. This kind of thinking is evident in the current federal Common Core standards for public education, which quietly exclude any form of handwriting instruction.  Some states, including California, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Tennessee, have passed their own legislation to combat this development, and they have some research to back this up.

A classic study by George H. Early, published in the Journal of Academic Therapy in 1976, notes a connection between first-grade students' instruction in cursive handwriting and their aptitude for reading and spelling. The hypothesis was that so-called "joined-up writing" led to a sort of joined-up thinking, in which the "continuous line in writing a word provides kinesthetic feedback about the shape of the words as a whole, which is absent in manuscript writing." Cursive, in Early's view, promoted words, rather than single letters, as complete units of thought—much more reflective of the way human brains need to process language for comprehension.

For those who dismiss Early's study as a quaint relic of a pre-computer age, Dr. Virginia Berninger, educational psychology professor at the University of Washington, insists that his assertions remain valid. "Cursive helps you connect things," she says. Berninger is quoted in a policy brief published by the National Association of State Boards of Education, which has come out strongly in support of cursive [PDF]. The brief argues that unlike typing, cursive's combined requirements of cognitive and motor skills necessitate formal instruction—keyboards are intuitive, but writing by hand is not.

While cursive handwriting may never regain the dominance it once saw in lesson plans, there's still some worth in all those curlicues and flourishes.

[h/t Mic]

15 Inspiring Quotes About Teachers

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iStock.com/skynesher

Next to parents, teachers may be the most influential figures we'll ever have in our lives. In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, we're taking a look at some of the most evocative quotes about these beloved educators.

  1. "The dream begins, most of the time, with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you on to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called truth." —Dan Rather, Journalist
  1. "The test of a good teacher is not how many questions he can ask his pupils that they will answer readily, but how many questions he inspires them to ask him which he finds it hard to answer.” —Alice Wellington Rollins, Author
  1. "I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.” —Lily Tomlin, Actress
  1. "Most of us end up with no more than five or six people who remember us. Teachers have thousands of people who remember them for the rest of their lives.” —Andy Rooney, Journalist
  1. "There's no word in the language I revere more than teacher. My heart sings when a kid refers to me as his teacher, and it always has. I've honored myself and the entire family of man by becoming a teacher." —Pat Conroy, Author
  1. "… It is a greater work to educate a child, in the true and large sense of that phrase, than to rule a state.” —William Ellery Channing, Preacher and Theologian
  1. "The future of the world is in my classroom today, a future with the potential for good or bad ... Several future presidents are learning from me today; so are the great writers of the next decades, and so are all the so-called ordinary people who will make the decisions in a democracy. I must never forget these same young people could be the thieves and murderers of the future. Only a teacher? Thank God I have a calling to the greatest profession of all! I must be vigilant every day, lest I lose one fragile opportunity to improve tomorrow." —Ivan Welton Fitzwater, Educator
  1. "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." —Source Unknown, sometimes attributed to William Butler Yeats, Poet
  1. "I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit." —John Steinbeck, Author
  1. "Teaching is the greatest act of optimism.” —Colleen Wilcox, Educator
  1. "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops." —Henry Brooks Adams, Historian
  1. "Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important." Bill Gates, Technologist and Philanthropist
  1. "The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery." —Mark Van Doren, Poet
  1. "I think the teaching profession contributes more to the future of our society than any other single profession." —John Wooden, Athlete and Coach
  1. "Teachers, I believe, are the most responsible and important members of society because their professional efforts affect the fate of the Earth." —Helen Caldicott, Physician and Author

Updated for 2019.

Texas Is the Latest State to Bring Cursive Writing Back to Its School Curriculums

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iStock.com/narvikk

The 2000s weren't a great decade for cursive handwriting. As computers became mainstream, many school districts dropped cursive lessons in favor of keyboard proficiency. But in recent years, the trend has been moving in the opposite direction, and Texas is the latest state to reinstate cursive writing in its public schools, ABC 25 reports.

Because Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (the state's curriculum standards for grades K through 12) didn't require it, cursive has been absent from many Texas classrooms for years. In 2017, the State Board of Education made it mandatory, but the new requirement won't take effect until the 2019 to 2020 school year. Starting with next year's second-grade class, all grade schoolers in Texas's public school system must be taught to write legible cursive by fifth grade.

Though opponents argue that learning cursive is a waste of time in the digital age, supporters of the writing style say it promotes clearer thinking. Elizabeth Giniewicz, executive director of elementary curriculum for the Temple Independent School District in Texas, tells ABC 25, "It's important that our kids are able to communicate through the written word and through the spoken word."

Texas is just one state that's reversed its stance on teaching cursive. Ohio came out in favor of cursive in 2018, making it mandatory starting in kindergarten.

[h/t ABC 25]

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