Cursive alphabet in upper and lower case (Credit: Sotakei/ Public domain/ Wikimedia Commons)

After being removed from the curriculum for over 14 years, cursive writing is making a comeback in some US public schools. For those unfamiliar with the term, it is the elegant form of penmanship where letters or characters are joined together in a flowing manner, generally to make writing faster.

Cursive writing was once considered an important skill in schools across the US. However, the increasing use of computers in the workplace caused many to believe it was more important for kids to master the keyboard instead.

By the 1980s, many schools had reduced the focus on cursive. However, it was still required to be taught in most states. In 2010, the Common Core Standards, adopted by schools in 46 states, outlined a common curriculum for English and Math for K-12 education. The standards emphasized teaching keyboard skills to students in grades 3 through 5. However, cursive writing as a requirement was nowhere to be seen.

Many historical documents are written in cursive (Credit: Public Domain)

Critics applauded the change. Many thought students' time was better spent learning skills like coding and keyboarding. A few young lawmakers even called cursive "old-fashioned."

However, some educators argued that cursive proficiency was needed for students to read important historical documents like the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights in their original form. More importantly, research showed that penmanship was critical for the overall development of kids. A 2019 study found that "mastering handwriting skills" was necessary for academic achievement." A 2020 study concluded that writing by hand helped improve memorization and increased engagement in kids.

As of 2024, these arguments have persuaded 23 states to mandate cursive writing in elementary schools. The most recent to join the movement are California and New Hampshire, which passed the law in 2023. Additionally, five states have introduced cursive bills so far in 2024. It is uncertain if cursive will ever be added to the national standards again. But the signs certainly look encouraging.

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