News flash: Cursive writing boosts children’s brain development, manual dexterity, memory, and ability to process information. Neuroscientists have been saying this for years and there are plenty of studies to back it up. Now legislators are finally waking up and bringing cursive writing back into the classroom. Of course, there are naysayers who argue that cursive is an old-school, boomer skill that’s had its day: there’s even a “subversive cursive” backlash. Go figure!
Still, there’s a growing cursive writing movement according to a recent New York Times story, “Cursive Seemed to Go the Way of Quills and Parchment. Now It’s Coming Back.” * To date, some 21 states have mandated that cursive writing be a part of kids’ classroom experience.
As Sheila Lowe, the president of the American Handwriting Analysis notes, “We’re not trying to replace electronics. Cursive is an important part of brain training.” To make its case, the foundation created a Campaigh for Cursive aimed at educating lawmakers and cursive coaches, and even launched an annual competition called “Cursive Is Cool.”
Writers have long known the value of writing by hand. Shakespeare not only crafted his plays without a dictionary or a thesaurus, but gad zooks! without a computer. Quills don’t seem to have cramped his style! That’s how Dickens penned his novels,Jane Austen jotted down her savvy social commentaries, and Herman Melville wrote Moby Dick. Of course, necessity is the mother of invention: All they had to work with in those benighted days were pen, ink, and paper. Still, all in all, they seem to have managed quite nicely.
Also worth noting: In the age of typewriters and even computers, a raft of accomplished authors still preferred to write by hand, often using legal pads. Ernest Hemingway, Maya Angelou, Philip Roth, and John Updike all spring to mind.
But I digress. Back to the cursive comeback. As writers, this has to be good news for us: Kids who write more skillfully are surely more likely to become avid, attentive readers. And since writing by hand aids memory and comprehension, they are also more likely to enjoy all the fabulous brain-building benefits that reading provides.
How encouraging to know that even now, in classrooms all across the country, young minds are growing. Their burgeoning brain cells are connecting and sparking. And if they find the courage to detach from their cell phones, what a rich world of luscious literary delights awaits them. Let’s add to that joyous mix as we all write on!
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