The slow demise of cursive handwriting is not a new story, but lately the death knell has been tolling a little louder. In a recent example, the State Board of Education of Kansas is about to debate the role of cursive lessons in the schools amid a nationwide decline in those lessons.
School districts large and small have been phasing out cursive. Verona, Wis., will phase out most third-grade cursive instruction by 2014. Indiana formally de-emphasized cursive last year in favor of pushing proficiency in keyboard use.
Common Core State Standards for what students are expected to learn have been picked up by most of the states in the union. Those standards don't require cursive. Keyboarding skills, however, are featured in the writing standards. That means most states no longer have a mandate for teaching cursive.
None of this is particularly surprising. According to a report issued by Miami-Dade County Public Schools, cursive handwriting has been on a slow decline since the 1970s. We have become a keyboard culture, but it seems to be accelerating in recent years. Teens are more likely to exercise their thumbs on their smartphones than pens on paper.
I already blame computers for the horrendous state of my own handwriting. I used to be able to write perfectly respectable cursive, but now it has degenerated into an unholy abomination of mixed print and cursive letters, none of which are particularly readable. Every time I go grocery shopping, it turns into an exercise in code-breaking as I try to decipher my scribbled list.
At least the upcoming generation won't have to suffer the gradual decline of their own cursive skills. They likely won't even know cursive in the first place. What do you think? Does cursive still have a place, or should it go the way of cassette tapes and Crystal Pepsi?