Linda Spencer, MS, CGA

Questioned Handwriting

LS Spencer and Associates

Illinois Forensic Handwriting Experts

Phone 630-631-1987

Questioned Documents

Personality Profiles 

All About Handwriting


Common Core Standards and Uncommon Cursive

Posted on January 23, 2014 at 5:03 PM Comments comments (69)

Today is National Handwriting Day.  My article, Common Core Standards and Uncommon Cursive was recently published and is available on the internet.  I hope you will read it and let me know your thoughts on the subject.

Are you aware of the fact that writing in cursive and typing on a keyboard create different neuropathways in the brain? Studies are indicating that learning to write in cursive has a strong effect on the learning process, especially in areas of reading and memorization.

The need to learn keyboarding skills is obvious.  However, the need to learn how to write in cursive, while less obvious, is no less important. Neuroscientists are examining and have published studies on cursive handwriting’s effect on pathways in the brain, particularly with young learners. Many of these are available on the internet using  search terms cursive handwriting and brain studies.

An excellent blog, dated  May 2013,  regarding teaching cursive and it's effect on his students is posted by Dr. David Sortino.  Dr. Sortino holds a Master’s degree in Human Development from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in Clinical/developmental Psychology from Saybrook University. In addition, Dr. Sortino holds learning handicapped, resource specialist and multiple subject teaching credentials. He  consults with  parents and schools in the areas of achievement motivation and school success. His blog provides  his  first hand experience and some interesting results from teaching cursive handwriting to his students.

Dr. David Sortino Brain research and cursive writing/blog

We don’t yet know how changing from cursive to mostly keyboarding is affecting young learners brains but evidence is mounting that indicates that caution must be taken before discarding cursive handwriting from our nation’s primary grade education.

Cursive handwriting and Common Core Standards

Posted on November 15, 2013 at 9:59 PM Comments comments (58)

      The Common Core Standards for education are beginning to be rolled out in schools across the country. Many people are unaware that the Language Arts section of the Common Core standards has omitted cursive handwriting as a subject that must be taught. Keyboarding is a required course. The need for keyboarding skills is obvious. The need to learn cursive handwriting while less obvious is also important.

     The omission of cursive handwriting has created growing controversy  over the role handwriting and keyboarding instruction will have in the classroom, particularly in the elementary grades where students are still developing their reading, writing and motor skills. Little research has been done to determine how the change in writing, from learning and using cursive to using keyboarding exclusively, affect neuro-pathways in the brain.

  The reduction in instruction time for cursive handwriting has slowly and subtlety taken place. Sometime in the 1980’s cursive handwriting began to receive less and less classroom instruction. It changed from the excessive two hours a day in the forties and fifties to the current fifteen minutes two or three times a week. Schools often start teaching cursive at the end of second grade and little instruction extends after the third grade. Since cursive isn’t stressed after third grade students are not given enough practice to make cursive writing a habit. As a result many kids educated in the last two decades cannot write in or even read cursive. Many cannot even sign their name in cursive instead they use block printing.

  Little regard has been given to the interrelationships of handwriting development and reading, spelling and composition.  The past two decades of decline in learning to write in cursive has paralleled the nations last two decades of declining scores in reading comprehension. Handwriting can change how children learn and how their brains develop.

     Researchers are trying to understand why units of language are affected differently when hands write by pen and by keyboard.    Handwriting experts know that handwriting is actually brain writing as it is the brain that directs the strokes on the page. Neuroscientists are studying how handwriting actually affects the brain. 

     Psychiatrist and neuroplasticty expert Dr. Norman Doidge author of the book The Brain That Changes Itself explains, “When a child types or prints he produces a letter the same way each time. In cursive however, each letter connects slightly differently to the next, which is more demanding on the part of the brain that converts symbol sequences into motor movements in the hand.”  He also explains, “Sure in the 1980’s there were things that were part of a kind of classical education that people did away with because they thought that they were irrelevant like an almost fanatical attention to elocution and handwriting or memorizing long poems.  But, it now turns out that what these activities did is, "they exercised very important parts of the brain that allow you to think in long sentences, have deep internal monologues and a certain amount of grace in all kinds of expression.  And probably a lot of damage was done by doing away with these exercises that were there for good reasons we didn’t understand.”

Few would argue that deep internal monologues, memorizing, and grace in all forms of expression are becoming lost or certainly on the wane in our culture today.  rumbff? Text talk for, Are you my best friend forever?   Texting has created a new language which is rather reminiscent of primitive forms of writing.
I'll be back with more research findings in my next post.  Please comment.  I would love to hear you opinion on cursive handwriting, keyboarding and learning in this high tech world.