Experts tout benefits of teaching cursive writing in schools

Posted at 7:04 PM, Apr 10, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-10 21:04:39-04

SALT LAKE CITY --  Cursive writing is part of Utah’s core curriculum -- but does it really need to be? FOX 13 News attended a "Handwriting Without Tears" workshop in Salt Lake City Friday, where educators, parents and occupational therapists all said: "Yes."

In today’s digital age, more and more people go without handwriting anything, let alone in cursive. So, is cursive dead?

“Cursive is not dead, I can assure you of that,” said Megan Fisher, who is an occupational therapist who led Friday's workshop.

The workshop pitched the idea that teaching cursive to students is still important, even as more people rely on technology like computers and phones to write and communicate.

“It’s not kind of a battle between handwriting versus technology, or versus keyboarding,” Fisher said. “Even with technology, I personally still love the beauty of a handwritten note."

The argument for cursive over typing has some statistics from UCLA and Princeton to back it up.

“There’s links between the fact that the letters are actually linked, so there’s a correlation between--It’s actually linking things in our brain,” Fisher said.

The data indicates students who learn cursive remember lectures better and do better on their SAT exams.

“Cursive, in particular, is a lot faster for children, so as they progress through the grades, it's going to be quicker and easier for them to take notes,” Fisher said. "So they’re not spending so much time thinking about and trying to picture that letter in their head, because it’s an automatic skill.”

Denise Lehr, another occupational therapist, said knowing cursive can also be useful for reading historical documents.

“Actually I’ve tried to read the Declaration of Independence, and it's even difficult when you know cursive, because of that old handwriting script," Lehr said. "If you didn’t have any exposure, you wouldn’t be able to read it at all.”

FOX 13 News’ producer Adam Forgie decided Friday’s event was a good opportunity to see how the team in the newsroom fared when it comes to cursive.

“What we’re doing today is, we’re going to challenge some FOX 13 employees to write in cursive,” he said. “Me, myself I have not written in cursive since the 3rd grade. I’m going to try it now by writing a sentence that includes every letter of the alphabet. The sentence is: 'The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.' Let’s try it.”

Forgie’s cursive skills appeared to have lapsed, and we decided to put our anchor team to the test as well. See the video above for their attempts, many of which did not go well.