Keep teaching cursive

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Modern penmanship differs considerably from the penmanship taught when today's senior citizens were children.

Many regard the teaching of cursive writing as a low priority. Some people question why this is taught at all takes a back seat in many elementary schools.

Leaving messages and taking notes is not always conveniently done with a keyboard and no matter how skilled a person is with a keyboard, writing with pen and paper is generally quicker.

In one study, college students who took good lecture notes got higher scores on essay tests. The best predictor of quality note taking was writing speed. Faster writing also helps the brain spend less effort on forming letters and more on higher-order cognitive tasks like composing good essays, one researcher said.

The findings are a boost for cursive, since its continuous linking of letters is faster than print, in which the pen must be lifted.

There are many styles of cursive taught. One growing in popularity is "Handwriting Without Tears" developed by Jan Z. Olsen, a pediatric occupational therapist.

This style of cursive is less ornate than the traditional cursive, probably less aesthetically pleasing but is easy to read, easy to learn and faster to write.

When a quicker and easier learning option is available, educators should take advantage of it.