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Should cursive writing follow the typewriter out of Michigan classrooms?

cursive handwriting
Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

You may have seen the internet meme floating around social media. It says, “Someday us old folks will use cursive writing as a secret code.”

While intended as a joke, how close to the truth might it be in the coming decades? The art of cursive writing is being taught at fewer and fewer schools these days. With so many subjects to cover, there’s only so many hours in the day, and a large portion of the current generation of children may grow up not knowing it.

Valerie Zaryczny, an occupational therapist, is bringing a handwriting workshop to Grand Rapids later this month called Handwriting Without Tears. She joined Stateside to talk about the state of cursive writing in our schools.

“Technology is vital and we actually have a curriculum called Keyboarding Without Tears … we know that typing and technology is the wave of the future and it’s not going anywhere,” said Zaryczny. “If you think about the long-term goal of a student and how they’re demonstrating knowledge to their teachers. In elementary school, about 40 to 60% of the school day is currently is spent doing some type of written work. And students’ hands, as they’re developing and growing, it’s not until about third or fourth grade until they’re ready to start typing and before that, we need a way for them to demonstrate their knowledge and their understanding of the concepts that they’re learning.”

Zaryczny cites research that shows that learning cursive can help a child’s brain development in the same way that it can when they learn a foreign language. She believes that a child who learns cursive will have an edge in the classroom.

“I feel like a child who has quick, efficient handwriting, including being exposed to the opportunity to learn cursive and who has functional keyboarding skills, has an educational advantage over a child who has one or the other,” said Zaryczny. “I know that for my own children, I would want them to have any advantage that they could for their school career.”

Listen to the full interview below to hear more about Handwriting Without Tears and about some of the research that has been done and how it relates to kids that use cursive writing. 

Josh Hakala, a lifelong Michigander (East Lansing & Edwardsburg), comes to Michigan Radio after nearly two decades of working in a variety of fields within broadcasting and digital media.
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