Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

November 15, 2013

Cursive still hanging on

For the older folks among us, a memo from state education officials in the spring of 2011 that cursive writing would no longer be a part of the required curriculum came as a bit of a shock.

We remember making entire rows of letters and being judged on whether we made the loops in precisely the right way. Learning the proper way to make a capital “A” and a small “t” were simply a part of growing up.

How could schools suddenly stop offering that instruction? What would become of a future generation of adults unable to sign their own names?

State lawmakers asked the same questions. They debated whether to require that schools teach handwriting in 2011 and mandated such lessons continue in the last legislative session.

Fortunately for the traditionalists among us, Howard County school administrators told us in July 2011 they had no plans to abandon the lessons in cursive writing.

John Bevan, then-superintendent of Southeastern School Corp. in nearby Walton, believed the state’s curriculum change concerning cursive writing was being driven by a daily 90-minute reading block requirement for kindergarten through third grade.

Bevan said a decision to stop teaching cursive would extend beyond the ability of students to sign their names. If students don’t learn cursive, he said, they won’t be able to read historical documents such as the Declaration of Independence or the U.S. Constitution.

“We can’t do everything on computers and smartphones,” he said. “I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work that way.”

Bevan’s argument is one of the reasons at least seven of 45 states that passed Common Core — a set of K-12 education standards adopted by Indiana but are now under review — are debating to hold onto more traditional curricula such as handwriting.

And so students in the Kokomo area and throughout the state will continue to learn how to make the proper loop on a capital “L.” Such instruction is once again a part of the required curriculum.

It’s yet another law dictating what teachers should teach, and neither needed nor probably welcomed.

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