Cursive returns to Tennessee schools

In an attempt to help students read their teacher's handwriting and improve their own, Tennessee is requiring cursive handwriting standards under a new set of rules signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam.

Mike Spencer/Wilmington Star-News/AP/FILE
Tennessee has introduced new cursive handwriting standards for the 2014-2015 school year, joining states like North Carolina that require students to learn cursive. In this file image, fourth-grader Tuesday Whalen, 9, practices her cursive writing skills at Parsley Elementary School in Wilmington, N.C.

NASHVILLE – Children in Tennessee will have to get used to holding a pencil again next year when new cursive handwriting standards go into effect in schools throughout the state.

The trend around the United States is to emphasize keyboarding - a skill that is included in the Common Core education standards adopted by most states.

But Tennessee lawmakers, concerned that some children do not have a signature and struggle to read their teachers' handwriting, overwhelmingly passed a bill making cursive a mandatory subject in grades two through four.

Schools are expected to start bringing back the declining art of cursive in 2015-2016 under the new rules, signed into law this year by Governor Bill Haslam.

Keyboarding and print writing will still have their place, but legible penmanship will be required by third grade.

"I am surprised we have stopped teaching it in some places," said Gary Nixon, executive director of theTennessee School Board. "It's an art that is losing its form because of the keyboard."

For millennials, cursive is quaint and not much more.

"It's kind of like hopping on a Pogo stick. If you can do it, great, but if not, it doesn't matter," said Cory Woodroof, 21, a student at Lipscomb University in Nashville who felt grade school handwriting classes were wasted time.

Also at Lipscomb, 20-year-old Janice Ng of Singapore said she took immersion studies in English back home but "they didn't mention cursive. It's not used."

The benefits of cursive teaching standards are questionable, according to one national literacy expert.

"I don't think it's bad, but I don't think there's much of a point to it," said Sandra Wilde, chair of theNational Council of Teacher of English Elementary Section Steering Committee.

Dedicating teaching time to cursive could take time away from touch-typing, a more important skill these days, she said.

Wilde said the cursive requirements in Tennessee echo moves in other conservative states where lawmakers have tried to put their own stamp on the school system in a reaction to Common Core.

The academic requirements under the Common Core State Standards adopted by most U.S. states and territories over the last few years aim to better prepare high school graduates for college and for the demands of employers.

Common Core does not ban cursive writing teaching, said Melissa McGrath, spokeswoman for the Council of Chief State School Officers, which helped develop the standards.

She said it is up to teachers and communities to decide whether they want to teach it. (Editing by Fiona Ortiz)

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Cursive returns to Tennessee schools
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today