by Dr. Terry Stoops
Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
According to Education Week, cursive is ready for a comeback. The article offers an instructive anecdote.
When an undergraduate in her university’s [University of Illinois] Rare Book and Manuscript Library asked for help with a manuscript she was reading, library director Valerie Hotchkiss assumed it was something difficult. An obscure Latin text, perhaps, or a letter by Marcel Proust.
It turned out to be a letter by John Ruskin, and it was in English. To Hotchkiss, Ruskin’s handwriting appeared neat and clear. “What’s the problem?” she asked.
“Oh, I don’t do cursive,” the student said.
According to Hotchkiss, it is impossible for most undergraduates to use manuscripts written between the 17th and 20th century.
“They will be locked out of doing research with literary papers and archival collections. They will not even be able to read their grandmother’s diary or their parents’ love letters,” she writes. “When the ability to read cursive disappears, our connection to history—and even to our own past—is lost.”
Legislation passed in 2013 requires elementary schools in North Carolina to teach cursive. While other state legislatures ponder similar legislation, our public schools provide cursive instruction for all elementary school students.