Is It Time to Stop Teaching Kids Handwriting?
Can Finnish students read the above cursive writing? Probably not – and that’s primarily because the word is in English. Even if they could read English, though, Finnish kids will soon have difficulty comprehending this word, as Finland has declared that it will phase out handwriting lessons over the next two school years.
As the advancements of the “digital age” increasingly become just a normal part of life, Finland has decided to prioritize teaching students how to type quickly over the centuries-old tradition of cursive.
Finland is hardly the only country to sever its ties with handwriting – it’s happening all over the United States, as well. While kids still learn to print in their earliest years, plenty of schools don’t even mention cursive handwriting in their official standards.
Theoretically, it doesn’t have to be an either/or situation. Computer literacy is an essential part of modern schooling, but does it need to come at the cost of teaching handwriting? However, with limited classroom time, instructors are choosing to focus on the more modern approach.
In a lot of ways, it makes sense. Cursive is, by design, supposed to be a more efficient way for people to write lengthier messages. Those who learn to type fast can communicate their thoughts even more speedily than those writing by hand. This advantage will benefit them not only in school, but also in their professional careers to follow.
Educational experts seem split on this particular issue. Some seem to favor tradition, while others think “tradition” shouldn’t be favored over skills that are relevant to the modern world. While it’s true that learning cursive instills dexterity and motor skills, opponents contend that there are other ways for students to develop these talents.
Of course, social class needs to be a consideration, too. Computers are not the norm in households below the poverty line. For students who don’t have computers at home, isn’t it important to teach them a way to communicate more quickly than printing? Having a way to jot down thoughts and complete essays away from a keyboard could make all the difference in succeeding academically for America’s most disadvantaged kids.
One American lawmaker, Jeffrey Dinowitz, a Democratic Assemblyman in the Bronx, was appalled to learn that handwriting had been eliminated from mandated curriculum in his region. Though he admits that typing is probably more important in this day and age, he says, “There are certain things that need to be required.” He plans to rally fellow lawmakers to make cursive a mandatory part of school instruction.
What do you think? Is cursive still an important part of American schooling or is it an outdated tradition that doesn’t need to be prioritized anymore? Share your opinions in the comments.