The Argument For Cursive Handwriting and Clearer Thinking

iStock
iStock

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]

25 Amazing Ivy League Classes You Can Take Online for Free in 2019

iStock.com/damircudic
iStock.com/damircudic

If you resolved to further your education in 2018, there are plenty of opportunities to do so without leaving home. Free college courses are abundant online, and the convenience doesn't necessarily mean you have to compromise on quality. For the best, tuition-free education the internet has to offer, check out these free Ivy League classes compiled by Quartz.

The eight Ivy League schools—Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale—offer about 396 free, active online courses between them. While many cover conventional subjects, like marketing, computer science, and Greek mythology, there are plenty of unique classes, including options like "Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies" and "The Ethics of Memory."

Many of the courses are self-paced and offer certificates for a fee. That certification may cost between $50 and $100—meaning your class won't technically be free, but it will still be a lot cheaper than attending an in-person lecture at Harvard.

Here are 25 notable free classes being offered by Ivy League universities this year.

1. "Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies" // Princeton University
2. "Artificial Intelligence (AI)" // Columbia University
3. "Animation and CGI Motion" // Columbia University
4. "The Global Financial Crisis" // Yale University
5. "Crowdfunding" // University of Pennsylvania
6. "Viral Marketing and How to Craft Contagious Content" // University of Pennsylvania
7. "Moralities of Everyday Life" // Yale University
8. "The Ancient Greek Hero" // Harvard University
9. "Visualizing Japan (1850s-1930s): Westernization, Protest, Modernity" // Harvard University
10. "American Capitalism: A History" // Cornell University
11. "Science & Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science (Part 1)" // Harvard University
12. "Power and Responsibility: Doing Philosophy with Superheroes" // Harvard University
13. "Super-Earths and Life" // Harvard University
14. "Women Making History: Ten Objects, Many Stories" // Harvard University
15. "Modern Masterpieces of World Literature" // Harvard University
16. "The Ethics of Memory" // Brown University
17. "Buddhism and Modern Psychology" // Princeton University
18. "Designing Cities" // University of Pennsylvania
19. "America’s Written Constitution" // Yale University
20. "Lessons from Ebola: Preventing the Next Pandemic" // Harvard University
21. "The History of Medieval Medicine Through Jewish Manuscripts" // University of Pennsylvania
22. "The Science of Well-Being" // Yale University
23. "Everyday Parenting: The ABCs of Child Rearing" // Yale University
24. "Introduction to Italian Opera" // Dartmouth University
25. "Music and Social Action" // Yale University

You can find more free online offerings from the Ivys and other top schools at Class Central.

[h/t Quartz]

Ohio Is the Latest State to Reinstate Cursive in the Classroom

iStock.com/PeopleImages
iStock.com/PeopleImages

Many people have strong opinions on cursive, whether because they use it everyday or resent their elementary school teachers for wasting their time teaching it to them. In the wake of many schools abandoning teaching cursive writing in the classroom, legislators in Ohio recently took a strong stance in favor of the handwriting style: Beginning in kindergarten, students in the state will now learn to write in cursive in addition to print, WKRC reports.

On Wednesday, December 19, Governor John Kasich signed a bill mandating a cursive curriculum throughout elementary schools in Ohio. The course is optional for teachers, but students will now be required to write cursive legibly by the time they leave fifth grade. The same curriculum also makes it so that students must learn to print letters properly by the end of third grade.

Ohio's decision is part of a larger trend of schools bringing back cursive following a nationwide backlash. Once thought to boost the developmental benefits that come with writing by hand, research has shown that learning cursive isn't uniquely beneficial, and it may even slow down the learning process because it's more complex than regular manuscript. And as computers have become ubiquitous, cursive lessons have taken a backseat to typing in many school systems.

But cursive still has its champions: Linking letters together to create "whole" words promotes clearer, more complete thinking, according to cursive supporters. And even in today's digital world, knowing cursive has its uses, from reading historical documents to signing one's name.

Ohio joins more than a dozen U.S. states that have reinstated cursive lessons in classrooms. In just the past few years alone, Alabama, Louisiana, and New York City—the largest public school system in America—have all once again made cursive part of their curriculums.

[h/t WKRC]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER