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The Future of Cursive

Posted at: 02/19/2013 6:44 PM
By: Dan Conradt

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Not long ago, it was something you practiced over and over again until you got it "just right".

Tuesday, it's all but forgotten.

But there might be more to this "lost art" than meets the eye.

"We still teach cursive writing beginning in third grade," said Sumner elementary school principal Sheila Berger.

“But it doesn't have the priority it probably had 20 years ago."

Today, cursive has fallen victim to technology.

"Most of the time if students are producing writing it's done on the computer," principal Sheila Berger said.

Minnesota no longer requires schools to teach cursive. But while most Minnesota schools do teach it, schools in other states including Illinois and Indiana, don't.

"When I first started teaching it was something you learned and then you applied and used in every single subject area and you only used cursive. That is not the case now," said Sumner elementary school third grade teacher Deborah Cook.

But medical researchers say they've found more activity in the brains of kids who are using cursive than those who are using a keyboard.

"The act of forming letters, whether it be manual or cursive, is still a critical component in the development of fine motor skills, of eye-hand coordination, which leads into reading strength," said Sumner principal Sheila Berger.

And since cursive involves learning one letter at a time, then putting them together to form words and eventually sentences.

"The step by step process within itself is again a method or process that helps students in all subject areas as well," third grade teacher Deborah Cook told us.

But if that process can be accomplished in other ways, is cursive going the way of the dinosaur?

"We've had lots of conversations about what is the need or is there a need beyond formulating your signature," principal Sheila Berger said.

“As they fill out forms and documents there is usually a line where a signature is needed," teacher Deborah Cook said.

“Beyond that I don't know what the future holds for cursive writing," principal Sheila Berger added.

The Minnesota Department of Education says it might re-examine its cursive policy if schools stop using it.