In Defense of Cursive

I’m thinking a lot right now about the potential implications of the iPad program on student learning at our school. How will it change our classes if students no longer take notes by hand anymore? Will this help some people take better notes? Will it hurt other students? I don’t yet know the answer to this question, and I welcome your feedback and your ideas, either in the comments section here or via email.

On that same front, there’s a lot of debate about the utility of teaching handwriting, especially cursive. While I love using my cursive handwriting, I admit that I don’t always use it when I’m in a hurry or taking notes, and there’s some question about the utility of requiring students to learn this difficult form of handwriting when our communication is increasingly limited to typing on computers or tapping on smartphones. An article in this week’s New York Times reflects on this: find the article here and the comments here, and let me know what you think!

2 thoughts on “In Defense of Cursive

  1. I’m curious to know more about the “iPad program” at your school. Is there a blog post or page on your school’s website or news article that goes into more detail on how your school is using iPads as part of your curriculum?

    As for cursive, at some point, I was required to use cursive for all of my schoolwork (probably starting around the 4th grade or so). I don’t think I was ever explicitly told when this was no longer a requirement, so for several years, I continued using cursive. I remember struggling to read my own papers/notes because my cursive was so scrawly.

    Then one day in high school, I realized that many of my classmates stopped using cursive. It was quite the epiphany when I realized I could use printed/blocked letters again! Other than my signature, I have never used cursive again.

    I think about my six-month old daughter and how she will grow up in a world where calculators, smartphones, tablet computers, and probably some other device I’ve never even thought of will be the norm from her earliest memory onward. It’s amazing to think about!

    But, unless we move to some form of communication that doesn’t involve letters and words (communicating with blips and bloops or in binary or something), I think learning how to write by hand will always be an essential part of education. That said, I’m really looking forward to whatever must-have, “magical” devices are coming up next…

  2. Thanks for your comment, Hoon! In fact, our school doesn’t yet have an iPad program; we’re currently investigating the possibility of taking some or all of our textbooks into an iPad-friendly format, and we’re investigating other ways to move paper submission, note-taking, and even assessment into increasingly paperless formats. All of this is in its very, very early stages, so we’re still very much in the conversation period for what such a program would look like on our campus if most wisely and thoughtfully implemented.

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