[twitter]There’s a familiar banner hanging above the whiteboards in the front of my son’s Grade 3 classroom; the cursive alphabet.
When we had the ‘Meet the Teacher’ night to start the school, I couldn’t take my eyes off it. I immediately drifted back to my own Grade 3 experiences learning cursive. I remembered how funny it was to write a capital Q like the number 2, I always found a lower case cursive z to be confusing when placed alongside g and q, and my r’s never did seem to have enough of a hook on the top.
I used cursive throughout school. When I got a box of letters from my grandmother that I had written her over the years, it was a box of cursive letters. Each page so firmly pressed it was like braille when I flipped them over.
I don’t use cursive anymore. Sometime in high school, I stopped. I have what I call “teacher printing,” it’s very neat and easy to read. My cursive? Chicken scratch. So I switched.
As I sat in my son’s desk listening to the teacher talk about the curriculum for the year, my mind wandered. I did just fine without cursive as the digital age matured. Kids of my son’s generation, it has been suggested, may not even have use for keyboards as they grow up with devices that increasingly work with speech and touch.
‘Why are kids still learning cursive?,’ I wondered.
I posted the question to parent friends across my social networks and received many varying replies.
So I asked my teacher. “Why? Why are you teaching my son this tool that is obsolete and irrelevant to modern communications?”
“For practice,” she smiled. “So they learn how to follow directions, so they learn how to concentrate, so they have control over their writing utensils.”
The light bulb went off.
Like with so much in education, it’s not the actual thing you’re learning that’s important, it’s the process that comes along with the learning that helps you grow. My son is learning cursive to keep improving his fine motor skills. Maybe he’ll be an artist, lab technician, or geologist. His ability to follow instructions and work with intricate details will have been trained from these days learning cursive.