Cursive debate resurfaces: Should technology trump handwriting?


POLAND, Ohio (WYTV) – Ohio schools aren’t required to teach cursive handwriting but some state lawmakers want to change that.

The requirement was removed from Ohio standards over six years ago. Previously, the skill was introduced to students in second grade.

House Bill 58 is a renewed effort from two years ago when some state legislators tried to bring cursive writing back to Ohio’s elementary schools, passing the skill on to students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

READ: House Bill 58

“There’s so much that can go into this, such as reading, learning to make all the sounds, how to do your spelling,” said State Rep. Marilyn Slaby, who supports cursive in schools. “I think they really need to know the sounding and writing of letters and with cursive writing, they’re learning the motion. That ties into so many other things.”

The bill would require Ohio schools to have students print letters and words legibly by third grade and be able to write papers in cursive by fifth grade.

Cursive handwriting is not a part of the Common Core standards the state follows. It isn’t required for state testing either — those are mostly done on a computer.

At Campbell City Schools, teachers focus on helping children learn how to use technology. Superintendent Matt Bowen said first graders are learning how to type on a keyboard and use a Chromebook laptop.

“We want to prepare our students for their future, not our past,” he said.

Bowen said the purpose of cursive writing is to script as much information as possible in a shorter amount of time than it would take to print the words.

“As we’ve evolved now, that’s no longer the need. Right now, students have devices, they have technology. They have, basically, a phone in their hands,” he said. “The need for cursive, I hate to say it, but that’s not the world we’re currently living in.”

He said in most occupations today, technology is a necessary skill and cursive is not.

Bowen said if state requirements change, the district would make sure cursive writing is included in the curriculum.

Dobbins Elementary School in Poland still teaches cursive to its students. Principal Michael Daley said writing is something that should be taught in schools just like art and music are taught.

“The ability to put pencil to paper opposed to using a device to do the same thing, those things, I assume, are deeply talked about not just in Poland, but across the State of Ohio.”

Poland resident Melissa Hancock, however, questions the value of cursive handwriting.

“I believe it’s a good skill to have but as far as functionality, I don’t think it is necessary.”

The two biggest teachers unions in the state consider learning to type on a keyboard more important than writing in cursive.