Irondequoit, N.Y. — Gone are the days when students need to use pen and paper to communicate.
“Between Nooks, iPads, computers, laptops and communicating on a Smart Boards, kids are learning how to communicate in other ways,” says Terri Robson, principal at Laurelton-Pardee Intermediate School in Irondequoit. “They don't need to do it with pencil and paper all the time anymore.”
Because of all the technology used in classrooms, penmanship and learning cursive have become less of a priority. Like most school districts across the U.S., the East Irondequoit School District has decided not to make cursive a required lesson plan.
“[It used to be that] there was an expectation. Once kids learned cursive and they would use it from then on out,” Robson explained. “They learned it in third grade and it was an expectation [that they would use cursive] through their time in elementary school and beyond.”
Robson says times and technology have changed all that. The district now focuses a lot more on typing skills.
According to Robson, the state’s common core standards has typing and keyboarding as a required skilled, whereas cursive is optional.
“Right now we don't have a formalized program for cursive,” Robson explained. “It's not a part of our everyday curriculum. I know some of our teachers try to get it in at the end of the school year, but time is at such a premium right now, it's hard to get those extra things in.”
Robson says because of the new common core standards, teachers are busy making sure students are ready for the state assessments. Cursive isn’t a priority anymore.
Calligrapher Lisa Jeffers says she is disappointed to hear districts are dropping cursive.
“I think cursive is very important,” she said. “I think penmanship and being able to write and sign your name and to use your handwriting in a formal setting is important. For kids not to learn [cursive] in school is a mistake.”
She also worries today’s students will no longer know how to read cursive when looking at documents from the past.
Robson says many of the younger students are thrown off when they see cursive.
“The kids are immediately, “Ah! I don't recognize this!’” Robson said. “But teacher teach the kids some strategies so that they can read it. It's a real life skill that they are going to need.”
Robson believes that despite not learning cursive at school, some students like to learn cursive and especially want to know how to spell their name.
“Kids love to learn cursive. They feel very grown up when they do, so the first thing they do is sign their name. So something tells me they will be able to sign their name [when they grow up].”
But even that may not be necessary in the future. According to a poll by Xerox Mortgage Services, by 2016, about 50 percent of all home loans will be closed electronically, without an actual signature.
Jeffers says cursive is still her most requested calligraphy design when clients place orders with her. However, she admits even adults don’t recognize some cursive letters anymore. She’s had to modify her capital “G” and “Q” letters to more like print because her clients didn’t recognize those letters in cursive.