Milford educators nixed cursive writing from their curricula “a number of years ago,” says Michael Cummings, the district's assistant superintendent for teaching and learning.
The decision to end active instruction was twofold.
As computers have become more prevalent, societal demand for the specialized handwriting has “greatly decreased,” he says. At the same time, the need for more keyboard instruction continues to climb.
Verdict: “There is not enough time in the day to continue to teach cursive,” Cummings says.
“There are more academic demands," he says. "I believe Milford is one of many, many schools which have stopped the active instruction of cursive.
“We recently studied about 15 districts in the state who are teaching keyboarding starting, in some cases, in grade two. Given the demands to keyboard in their futures that is something we have to consider teaching.”
Additionally, cursive is not part of the new Common Core standards required by the state, says Cummings.
Argument for teaching cursive
The idea for this article came from an Oct. 8 post on our Opinion Board by Milford Board of Education candidate Mark Ahrens.
The post starts: “I was chatting with a 1st District resident on Sunday and was asked why Milford isn’t teaching cursive handwriting anymore…I looked into it and it appears to be a national trend.”
Ahrens then links to an article on Neatoday.org, “Does Cursive Need to Be Taught in the Digital Age?” The piece discusses the arguments for and against teaching cursive and how some states are taking legislative action to make the instruction a requirement in public schools.
“Those who argue for cursive insist that it teaches fine motor skills, is faster and more efficient than printed handwriting, and that it enhances the creative process and has other cognitive benefits,” the articles states.
Kate Gladstone, a handwriting expert and educator, is quoted in the piece as advocating for the teaching of cursive reading.
“Reading cursive can be taught in just 30 to 60 minutes – even to five- or six-year-olds, once they read ordinary print,” she said. “Writing cursive, however, takes much, much more time and effort to master, even sketchily.”
Cummings acknowledges the case for cursive: “People argue that students will need to understand cursive to read older documents or to sign their legal names.”
A fitting description
Perhaps the undated classroom page of Meadowside third-grade teacher Jennifer Frechette sums it up best.
Under the subhead “Spelling/Cursive Writing/Grammar,” Frechette writes: “Cursive Writing (a lost art that will be reborn in your child ~ though sometimes later in the year!”
Would you like to see cursive reintroduced in the district? Or do you support the decision to end instruction? Tell us in the comments.
Note: Frechette did not return a request for comment.