State Representative Proposes Mandatory Cursive Writing Education In Arkansas

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FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) - In a day, and age, when technology education is at the forefront in many schools, Republican Representative Kim Hendren of Gravette believes it's important to know how to write in cursive.

That's why he has filed legislation that would require Arkansas elementary schools to teach students cursive writing. The requirement would start with the 2015-2016 school year, the bill states.

“I was taught it as a kid," said Clint Schnekloth, a parent of a student at Butterfield Elementary in Fayetteville. "I think it was like 3rd or 4th grade.”

Some schools chose not to teach their students how to write in cursive, which has sparked a debate whether the skill is necessary for today's children.

“I think they should [teach cursive,] just because of the [kid’s] signature,” said Brenda Smith, who is also a parent of a student at Butterfield Elementary.

Smith believes cursive will become important to children as they become older.

“I think it would be harder to copy a print, then it is when you have your own flare to cursive writing,” said Smith.

Smith said her sixth graders were never taught how to write in cursive in other school districts outside of the Fayetteville.

“They want to learn,” Smith said. “My older daughter has bought cursive writing books, and she`s self-teaching herself.”

But Schnekloth doesn’t fully agree. He said today`s technology may diminish the need to know how to write in cursive.

“I`m not sure if cursive writing will survive, or not. So I`m not sure if I have a strong opinion on it,” Schnekloth said. “I feel like we are in this transition era where there are different kinds of ways that people can communicate. Our kids learn how to use the iPads and the touch screens.”

Schnekloth said he has rarely used cursive since being out of school.

“When I got back to writing in my own handwriting, I went back to writing in print,” Schnekloth said. “I would say the only time I use cursive now is to sign checks."

And that's a point both Smith and Schnekloth could agree on: the one time cursive writing matters is when signing one's name.

“We still always have to sign paper work, so they should have their own signatures,” Smith said.

Fayetteville School District spokesman Alan Wilbourn said the district teaches students cursive at the end of second grade but, they don't have a specific curriculum for teachers to use.

Hendren's cursive bill has been sent to the House Education Committee. So far, no date has been set for a hearing on the bill.


  • john

    If they can’t write cursive they can’t read it. (My grandkids cannot read old recipes.)
    They need to learn for history sake.

  • Nan Jay Barchowsky

    Before decisions are made about handwriting instruction, and whether “cursive” should be taught, we need sound research that may or may not prove its benefits. To date I know of none.

    “Cursive” is known to many as the method of letter formation that dates to the latter part of the 19th century. There are other cursives.

    Why teach cursive? Why teach conventional cursive, the method that joins letters with loops, when more and more and more people can’t read it?

    Just some of the misguided reasons I often see:
    1) It strengthens cognition. No, any writing by hand will do that.
    2) It is faster. No, that’s never been proved.
    3) We need to read the Constitution and Granny’s letters. Not a problem: it takes less than an hour to learn to read the conventional cursive alphabet.
    4) It benefits fine motor skill. Then why do I see so many media illustrations of children writing their cursive lesson with death grips on pencils? No one is teaching the relaxed pen hold that is essential to fluent writing!
    5) We need signatures. No, every hand makes an individual mark.

    A variety of cursives have been used ever since the Romans gave us our western alphabet more than 2000 years ago. There must be a better way, a better cursive, one that would be easier to read and faster to write.

    Meanwhile, reading cursive should be taught. It takes about a half hour to teach kids to read the conventional, looped cursive. I’ll send a lesson I have successfully used upon request.

    My vote is for italic cursive, an easy-to-learn alphabet that is also easy to read. An option is to teach print-like script and guide that alphabet into something more fluent and individual; it’s often called “hybrid” writing.

    As first stated, handwriting in elementary grades strengthens cognition. So children do need it. They move their hands and fingers to form letters. The action goes into their motor memory to be recalled for reading.

    Advocates of conventional cursive may truly believe the unproven, unresearched claims that cursive is superior. Frequently, the media backs up this belief by misinterpreting and misquoting researchers. For the sake of better education for our children, serious, thoughtful attention is needed.

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