The Return of Cursive | God's World News

The Return of Cursive

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    Jaeden Alvarez practices cursive writing at Cleveland K-6 School in Dayton, Ohio. (AP/Al Behrman)
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    A classroom marker board announces National Handwriting Day at Orangethorpe Elementary School in Fullerton, California. (Reuters/Mike Blake)
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    Third grade students show off the words they wrote in cursive handwriting at a school in New York City. (AP/Mary Altaffer)
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    Historic documents are often written in cursive. This is the original manuscript of Abraham Lincoln’s sad farewell to the people of Springfield, Illinois. He wrote it when he departed to take over the presidency. (AP)
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    A letter, handwritten by Paul McCartney in 1960, invites an unknown drummer to audition for The Beatles. (AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
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    These are pages from Anne Frank’s diary, all written in cursive. (AP)
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In an era of computers and virtual assistants, penmanship seems to have disappeared with typewriters and landlines. Now a new state law requires handwriting lessons. Is cursive making a comeback?

California assembly member Sharon Quirk-Silva is a former elementary school teacher. She sponsored the new law. A casual encounter with a former California governor in 2016 inspired her cursive campaign.

“Jerry Brown was the governor and invited a group of us to dinner,” Quirk-Silva says. She sat next to him at the meal. When he heard she was an elementary teacher, he told her, “You need to bring back cursive writing.”

Today, 23 states also require teaching cursive in some form. But how and when and to what degree is difficult to measure.

California’s new bill-turned-law requires handwriting instruction for grades one through six, including cursive in the “appropriate” grade levels—usually third grade and above.

As the Word incarnate, God cares about words. (John 1:1) And while He doesn’t mandate good handwriting, He is glorified when believers develop skills and use them for His purposes!

At Orangethorpe Elementary School in Fullerton, California, students practice flowy, looping handwriting.

Teacher Pamela Keller says students are divided in their feelings about cursive.

Fourth grader Sophie Guardia says, “I love it.” It’s “fun to learn new letters,” she continues.

Sixth grader Milo Chang thinks cursive helps his printing. “If you’re doing something harder, . . . you’ll probably get better at the easier version too.”

Keller says other students need convincing. “A lot of my students will say, ‘Oh, it’s too hard to write in cursive.’” She tells them, “Well, it’s going to make you smarter. It’s going to make some connections in your brain, and it’s going to help you move to the next level.” She says students desire to learn. “They want to be the top dog in the class.”

Experts say learning cursive boosts cognitive development, reading comprehension, and fine motor skills. That’s because people use “different neural networks” when writing cursive according to reading language arts expert Leslie Zoroya.

A 2020 Norwegian study suggests that any form of writing by hand activates parts of the brain that are “important for memory and for the encoding of new information.” The study further states that handwriting “provides the brain with optimal conditions for learning.”

Handwriting is good brain work. But educators say cursive can also unlock the past—since historic documents are often written in cursive. Teacher Keller says, “I just want my students to have that choice to be able to open up that world.”

Why? With positive effects that include brain health, reading ability, and improved motor skills, handwriting—especially in cursive—is worth pursuing.

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