Why Mumbai Schools Killing Cursive Handwriting Must be Stopped

Why Mumbai Schools Killing Cursive Handwriting Must be Stopped 1

Most schools are abandoning cursive writing in favour of what they call “clean” and “legible” handwriting. In fact, a few school principals in Mumbai have objected to cursive writing being forced on primary students.

A report in Mumbai Mirror says the principals have asked the authorities to talk to schools that force students to write only in cursive. According to them, cursive causes anxiety to both parents and their wards.

In a letter, the principals have said:

“Some English medium schools have introduced cursive writing from kindergarten, and have made it compulsory for students to use it all the time. Children at this age have great difficulty in getting used to the handwriting, and are often subjected to a lot of stress both at school and in their homes.”

It’s clear that the people who are talking about “anxiety caused by handwriting” know nothing about anxiety and they most definitely do not know anything about handwriting.

Therefore, they should be stopped from expressing their uninformed opinions. They do not know that cursive handwriting is not just a alternative to print and typing; its benefits extend far beyond the act of writing.

For example, a note on cursive handwriting by the American Handwriting Analysis Foundation (AHAF) on www.campaignforcursive.com says:

Connected writing is not merely a form of communication. It unlocks potential for abstract thinking, allows the human brain to compartmentalize, and expands memory capacity. It develops individual expression. Research indicates that printing [disconnected handwriting] and keyboarding cannot achieve this in the same way.”

Similarly, other studies have shown that learning cursive not only improves retention and comprehension, but also engages the brain on a deep level, as students learn to join letters in a continuous flow. Cursive writing also enhances fine motor dexterity and gives children a better idea of how words work in combination.

Significance of cursive writing

According to another note by the AHAF, early efforts at writing and development of fine motor skills used in writing signal readiness for learning and predict later achievements in reading, writing, and math.

“Writing in cursive (once learned) is faster than printing, and can be produced with less difficulty with sufficient practice,” the note says.

Likewise, Virginia Berninger, a University of Washington professor who has co-authored studies on cursive writing, says there is a myth that in the era of computers we don’t need handwriting.

“That’s not what our research is showing,” Berninger told the Washington Post. “What we found was that children until about grade six were writing more words, writing faster and expressing more ideas if they could use handwriting than if they used the keyboard.”

According to an article in The Economist, neurophysiologists in Norway and France have found that different parts of the brain are stimulated when reading letters learned by writing them on paper, rather than by typing them on a keyboard.

“The movement and tactile response involved in handwriting leaves a memory trace in the sensorimotor part of the brain, which are retrieved when reading the letters involved,” the article says.

The Mumbai school principals, who freely refer to the US, UK and Canada while arguing against cursive writing, should read The Economist report published in September 2016.

It says:

A number of school boards in America have instigated a return to basics—especially time spent learning longhand. So far, more than half a dozen states—including California, Massachusetts and North Carolina—have made teaching cursive writing mandatory throughout their public schools. More than 40 other states are currently weighing similar measures.

In an article titled, Take Notes by Hand for Better Long-Term Comprehension, another set of researchers establish that longhand note takers beat laptop note takers on recall one week later when participants were given a chance to review their notes before taking the recall test.

Sheila Lowe, AHAF president, said studies have shown that children with cursive writing exercise different parts of their brain, leading to improved learning and behavior, as well as better motor skills.

“The effect is they learn to spell better, they listen better and they retain information better,” Lowe said.

If you are still not convinced, why cursive writing is good, here is another piece of information: handwriting has also been linked to good grades.

Watch the video below for more details on cursive writing:

Disclaimer: One element of handwriting may be analysed at a time, but always look at the entire handwriting sample before arriving at any conclusion.