Whether learning to write in cursive should be required has been debated for some time, and over the years the answer seems to lean towards no. Cursive is no longer a mandated skill in every state, though some still choose to teach it. In “Should schools still be teaching cursive?” the California Teachers Association addressed that issue through the viewpoints of two teachers whose opinions on the issue are dramatically different. In explaining their reasoning, they embody much of the arguments put forth by both sides.
Eldra Avery, an older high school teacher who teaches English, considers cursive a necessary skill that is “intrinsically human.” She writes that a working knowledge of cursive is needed to understand historical documents, and that learning the skill will result in higher self-esteem as well as having a faster method of writing.
On the other hand, Dustin Ellis is a younger grade-school teacher, and he considers cursive a dated skill, destined to die out as calligraphy once did. He considers the issue more from a practical standpoint than an aesthetic one; as long as children can write legibly, it doesn’t matter if they use cursive of print. But he considers it a fact that handwriting isn’t as essential a skill in a world where most students can type or text much faster than they write. He also disputes the claim that cursive is faster than print writing.
The debate may truly boil down to aesthetics versus practicality, as there seems little in the way of hard facts on either side. But in considering the issue, perhaps most interesting is Ellis’ cogent point about the pressures that teachers are under to teach everything required under state standard. It is difficult enough to teach everything in a school year, and some things must take a back seat; more and more, it seems that will include cursive.