By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki
In 2012 I wrote this:
“Cursive versus typing?
Is cursive writing part of a 21st century skill set? With touch screens, cell phones and tablets, the future of cursive writing seems uncertain. So we used the polling game Wayin to ask our community: “Should schools still teach cursive writing?” The votes were overwhelmingly in favor of continuing cursive, yet the opponents were much more vocal. While not a statistically valid poll, 83 percent said “Yes,” we should continue with cursive, while 17 percent answered “No.” “
Yes, cursive writing is “warm”, yet, many of those of us who are a bit older know that we can’t even ourselves read much of our own cursive writing. Pity the person we write to! To communicate warmth we now have other technology, like this 🙂 .
And in 2013, I wrote this:
“An article in Mashable asks the question: Has technology killed cursive writing? Is penmanship still important in an age where we can efficeintly tap everything out on a keyboard? According to the article, the nation’s Common Core State Standards took out the requirement for cursive instruction in K through 12 schools. However, it’s up to each individual state to decide whether cursive is important enough to teach its own students. Recently, North Carolina legislators approved a bill to require its students to learn cursive in elementary school, the Winston-Salem Journal reported. North Carolina joins states like California, Massachusetts and Georgia, which have already added a cursive writing requirement.”
But what if we reframe the question. Life, and school days, require tradeoffs. Suppose we pose it as:
Should the time that would otherwise be spent on learning cursive handwriting, be spent instead on an introduction to the underlying technology of computers and how to program them?
Cursive handwriting was originally in the curriculum to prepare students for a world that had no typewriters, and later, had typewriters, but no computers, or mobile devices. Today, the vast majority of students in the world have access to these. The value of touch typing on a computer is much greater than the value of good cursive handwriting today.
We may bemoan the loss of horses and buggies as a dominant form of transportation, but the world changes around us whether we are ready or not. Most of the people at the time of that transition were glad to be free of the horse’s waste products on city streets.
Image from code.org
There is so much practical value in learning how to use computers and mobile devices – and in using computers and mobile devices for learning – that a modern life is almost unthinkable for most people without these tools. Learning to program a computer or device is a skill in very high demand, and should continue to be, into the foreseeable future.
According to this article at Business2community, jobs in Information Technology (IT) are growing at twice the national average rate of job growth. But very few students study computer science, even at the college and university level. Only 2% of STEM (Science, TEchnology and Mathematics) students get degrees in computer science.
But a full 60% of the available STEM jobs are in the IT field! By 2020 the gap will have grown to over 3 jobs per graduating computer science nerd (we use the nerd word with a positive connotation). These are well paid jobs with higher than average salaries.
So it would be very valuable for students, and for society, to provide them with exposure to the inner workings of computers, including programming, during the K-12 years.
That’s the tradeoff. Don’t say both, you have to choose. If posed as handwriting or computer technology/programming, which one should be more prominent in K-12 education?
We’d love to hear your thoughts, please comment.