Most adults educated in the South African schooling system will remember having to learn how to write in cursive early on in their school careers (this usually happens in Grade 3- or what used to be called Standard 1). But I feel very strongly that cursive writing is entirely outdated and that it has to be scrapped from the curriculum as it does not offer any practical value.
For one, the majority of adults I know hardly ever write – period. We all type and with ever increasing access to technology it is much more likely that our children will need to learn to type than to write. Added to that is the finding that even when adults and older children do have to write very few of them, in fact less than 30%, ever use cursive writing. Why teach two forms of writing when we barely even need one?
Some may argue that cursive writing is quicker and more fluid than print – but the reality is that this simply is not true. In my practice I often see children with poor handwriting skills, and for them having to learn to write in cursive is absolute torture! They really battle to form the letters neatly and then get penalized for this – as if their self-esteems aren’t low enough already!
Another redundant argument is that future generations won’t be able to read texts written in cursive writing. Now, just stop for a minute and ask yourself when last you were actually required to read a text written in cursive writing?! But anyway, let’s entertain the notion for argument’s sake and accept that it may be important for children to be able to read cursive writing. Fine, so teach them to read cursive texts and maybe experiment with writing in cursive for a handful of lessons. This should be more than enough time for them to be able to decipher cursive writing. Surely we don’t have to keep teaching it to our children for a full year and then insist that they spend another 4 years mastering it!
Our curriculum is SO overloaded – surely we could better use the time we waste on teaching cursive writing on teaching children something more useful instead? Like gardening perhaps? Because in an increasingly overpopulated world, learning how to grow food is pretty important. It also has the added benefit that children get to go outside, they get to spend some time in the sunshine and move around rather than just sit still in class for hours on end. Or teach them presentation skills or entrepreneurial skills. Or coding skills. Or critical thinking and problem solving skills. In order to cope in an unknown future our children will need very different skills to those we were taught at school. Please teachers, I beg you – stop this archaic practice of teaching cursive writing. It serves no purpose and wastes valuable time!
Anel Annandale is a prominent Educational Psychologist with a passion for early childhood development and a special interest in neuropsychology.
She is experienced in the field and has established herself as an expert, often appearing on television shows such as Exspresso. She is also available as a guest speaker at relevant events and functions.