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Cursive writing is necessary

There could be a time in the near future when children cannot read the original Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights or a hand-written letter from generations past.

The historical documents are written in cursive handwriting, which more and more schools are electing to push out the important skill and replace it with keyboarding skills.

I have terrible handwriting. It’s beyond bad. Anytime I write something in cursive, my family and anyone who knows me immediately knows I’ve written it. I don’t even sign birthday cards.

My signature isn’t much better. But it’s my signature and mine alone and a way that identities have been proven for many years, in crime or business transactions.

If you don’t teach cursive writing, then an individual will no longer have a signature that is almost like a fingerprint.

Crimes from embezzlement to murder have been solved by handwriting analysis of signatures. In 2005, investigators were able to arrest and convict Dennis Rader, known as the BTK (bind, torture, kill) in Wichita, Kansas, because of handwriting analysis. A handwriting expert was one of the first witnesses who testified in Los Angeles against the man accused of killing Bill Cosby’s son to prove he wrote an incriminating jailhouse letter.

Learning to write in cursive is also good for children, as studies have shown it helps fine motor shills and generally helps students retain more information and generate more ideas.

In a New York Times article by Maria Konnikova recently, she stated that some people who suffer from brain injuries that damage their ability to write and understand print often retain the ability to comprehend cursive writing. Researchers also have suggested that cursive can serve as a teaching aid for children with learning impairments like dyslexia.

In Mississippi, it is not required to be part of a school’s curriculum; however, Mississippi’s state Board of Education recently adopted a series of minor changes to the state’s academic standards that includes stating that cursive writing should start in the third grade.

But the choice whether to include it in the curriculum is made at the district level.

In the Oxford School District, Candy Mize, director of elementary curriculum and professional development, said the district uses Zaner Bloser Cursive Handwriting materials for grades two through six. The lower elementary grades work on correct letter formation while grades four through six work on the application of cursive handwriting.

I tried to contact the Lafayette County School District, both at the district level and elementary school, but have not yet received a response as to whether cursive is taught in the county schools.

I hope it is.

It’s undeniable that computer and keyboards are a very real part of our lives now and will be forever. If the schools start to take the art and skill of writing in cursive away, I hope parents take up the slack at home. When we type a letter, a story in a newspaper or a school book report, it all looks the same, no matter who typed it. When we write a note to a loved one, send a real written letter to grandma and grandpa, or sign a sympathy card for a dear friend’s family, the words we write should reflect who we are which can only be done by our distinctive cursive handwriting, and not in standard block print where all A’s look like A’s.

Alyssa Schnugg is city editor at The Oxford EAGLE. Contact her at alyssa.schnugg@oxfordeagle.com.