In recent months it has often been said that Minnesota is following in the steps of California, particularly as our state has pursued the more progressive policies of the West Coast state.
But if Minnesota has its heart set on becoming The Golden State of the Midwest, then there’s a new education policy our legislature needs to consider advancing. That policy is teaching cursive in schools.
“Teaching cursive is once again the law for kids in California,” The Los Angeles Times reported, “news that adults greet with celebration, nostalgia, scorn, indifference and head-scratching.”
“Even before the new law took effect on Jan. 1, cursive was a California learning goal in grades 3 and 4, but the state and school districts had not enforced its teaching or tested to see whether students had mastered it. Moving forward, handwriting instruction for grades 1 to 6 is to include writing ‘in cursive or joined italics in the appropriate grade levels,’ the law states.”
Cursive has been a bit of a wedge issue in the last decade, The Times writes, with conservatives arguing for it and holding it up as the poster child of declining education in the wake of Common Core curriculum standards. Now, however, the instruction of this handwriting form is enjoying wide bipartisan support—at least in California—with conservatives arguing that cursive is necessary in order for the next generation to read historical documents, while liberals see cursive writing as an art form which expands the creativity of those who learn it.
Amazingly, the hiatus cursive writing experienced in the schools may have made children actually appreciate it more. As the Times explains, when Tyara Brooks told her fourth-grade students that they would be learning cursive, “excited oohs and aahs reverberated around the room” because students “were eager to write in this grown-up way.” In other words, cursive is a part of the adult world, and knowing how to write in cursive is one of the first steps children can make toward growing up and forming their identity as an adult.
Cursive isn’t mandated in Minnesota classrooms.
It’s something to consider as a parent and educator. When kids are trapped in a giant, monolithic system, every experiment – like ending cursive or bringing it back – is experienced by nearly every student, maybe for a decade or more. Is that really a good idea?
More to the point, would you want the freedom to determine if your child was at a school that still taught cursive or could opt out of the latest education experiment or fad? As an educator, would you rather be at a school that supports your desire to continue teaching cursive or in a giant system that forces change into every classroom?
While cursive may not seem that big of a deal, it very much highlights the importance of choice in education. It’s another example of why we need to leave behind the factory approach of the education system and give parents and students the freedom to find the right education for their children.
(This article has been updated.)
Image Credit: Flickr-cheeseslave, CC BY 2.0