Yahoo News has an interesting article on the cursive wars. Should cursive handwriting be abandoned as an anachronism or should it be preserved as an important life skill? Regular Irreal readers already know where I stand on the matter but might want to see the arguments for the other side in Yahoo’s article.
Some schools are hanging onto cursive tenaciously, insisting that their students receive at least some instruction in it. All the usual reasons are given but there’s a new entrant in the article: cursive is necessary to teach fine motor skills. The same folks pushing that idea would doubtless become apoplectic if someone suggested that improving fine motor skills was a good reason to encourage video games.
By far the most interesting thing about the article was the comments. I read a couple of pages worth and didn’t see a single comment that wasn’t hostile to the idea of eliminating cursive. People feel extraordinarily threatened by the idea. I’ve suggested before that this has a lot to do with “I suffered through learning it, why shouldn’t they?” but no one admits to that. Instead they all give the usual silly arguments such as “this is dumbing down our students,” “if they don’t learn cursive they won’t be able to sign their names” and others that are just too embarrassing to repeat. Many are simply irrational and brimming with anger. If you’re interested and feel up to it, see the comments to Yahoo’s article; it has a good representation.
There’s another Yahoo article that explores these points a little further and discusses various home-based resources for parents who feel their children need instruction in cursive. It’s worth looking at these two articles if only to see what arguments can be brought to bear in favor of cursive.