Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Need for Students to Write

A recent article in the Tribune-Star announced Indiana's decision to no longer have mandatory education of cursive writing in schools. This decision was made by the Department of Education and announced to school officials in April. It is believed that more emphasis should be placed on keyboarding skills instead due to the increasing use of computers.

Although I can see the point the Department of Education is trying to make, I thoroughly disagree with it. Many people use cursive to write because it was instilled in adults when they were children. I still write in cursive when taking notes, making journal entries, even proofreading notes at work (though I do admit my writing is a combination between print and cursive). I think it's necessary for students to learn cursive in order to properly communicate. Due to computers and texting, people have developed a lack of proper grammar and punctuation. Handwriting creates awareness in these areas and develops patience in self-expression.

In not requiring students to learn handwriting skills, we are creating further dependence on computers and other electronic communication devices. Although the technological development of such items has allowed major advances to occur in our world, they are also limiting our capabilities as self-expressive human beings.

Letter writing is a dying art, yet there are still some who choose to communicate through letters and cards. It is a more personal form of communication that heralds back to the past. A person's own handwriting will always be more expressive than any text or email. The curves, swirls, and angles of each letter; the delicate writing of woman versus the bold, quick written strokes of a man; the hurried scrawls of a person compared to the thought out and loving pen strokes of a friend or lover. These are the things which will be missed when handwriting, whether print or cursive, is lost to the ages.

Perhaps one of the most important examples of letter writing comes in the form of the letters that passed between John and Abigail Adams. They kept constant communication through their letters, documenting not only their lives and love but also creating an amazing documentation of history. Through their letters, future generations can see into the past. The Massachusetts Historical Society allows access to some of the correspondence. Many books have been written regarding the two and their letters including most recently My Dearest Friend: the Letters of Abigail and John Adams (Hogan and Taylor) and First Family: Abigail and John Adams (Ellis)

Vassar College Libraries/ Collection of Massachusetts Historical Society
Students, and later on adults, will no longer be able to connect with the past. They will not be able to write in cursive and therefore will not be able to read it. Historical documents from previous centuries will become illegible to them. Letters and notes of ancestors will become pieces of paper with scratches of ink on them in the eyes of future people.

To read more about Indiana's decision on cursive writing in schools, see the following article:
Archaic Method? Cursive Writing No Longer Has to be Taught, Sue Loughlin

Links for letter writing supporters:
Letter Writers Alliance
Letter Writers Alliance
Post Crossing
Write a
National Postal Museum

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