Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

April 7, 2013

Locals weigh in on cursive writing

Educators say it still has a place in Indiana schools.

By Lindsey Ziliak
Tribune staff writer

— Maconaquah Elementary School is moving “full steam ahead” with its technology initiatives, but cursive writing won’t be left in the dust — at least not for now, officials say.

“We feel it has its place in school,” Maconaquah Elementary School Principal Kelly McPike said.

In 2011, Indiana dropped its requirement to teach cursive writing in public schools.

Now legislators are considering a bill that would reinstate it as a mandatory part of the curriculum.

Educators have argued on both sides of the debate.

“Everybody has a strong opinion about it for some reason,” McPike said.

Indiana University Kokomo adjunct professor Francine Jewett said she was “appalled” when she learned that some schools weren’t teaching cursive writing anymore.

Her freshman English students often use cursive in their research for papers and to take notes.

“I can’t imagine that they could print all their notes or take notes on the computer for everything,” she said.

It’s easy for McPike to see her elementary school students taking all of their notes on the computer, though.

Her students each have their own laptop at school. It’s been a game changer for them. She said the elementary school is trying to come up with the funds to hire a full-time keyboarding teacher.

But for some kids who have developmental issues, cursive writing is easier to learn.

“The writing process makes more sense to them when they connect the letters,” she said.

It’s those kids they keep cursive writing around for, she said.

And even though the school teaches it to students, it’s not a priority and takes a back seat to other lessons some days.

Kids should know how to sign their names, McPike said, but whether they use it in any other capacity as adults is up to them. She said she knows very few adults who still write in cursive.

Jewett said she doesn’t know how a generation could grow up without knowing how to use cursive.

“And how are students as adults going to write letters and sign cards, just so many things, without the ability to use cursive?” she asked. “Printing is slow and cumbersome, and shopping lists and to do lists and just so many things we do in everyday life are easier to do with cursive.”

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