Cursive or Right Click? A Critical Analysis of Lifelong Learning and Cursive Writing
Mount Saint Vincent University
Cursive writing is a skill that contributes to learning, yet in an age of increasing technology it is no longer being considered as an integral aspect of the school curriculum. Cursive writing helps in terms of cognitive development, improves literacy skills and the aesthetics of handwriting and provides a foundation for lifelong learning. In this thesis I use Boyer`s (1990) integrative scholarship approach to draw upon different theoretical perspectives such as the pedagogy of multiliteracies, my experiences as a Waldorf educator, and various empirical research studies that follow the evolution of handwriting to current brain-based research on cursive writing. I argue that there are multiple benefits and reasons for retaining cursive writing as part of the curriculum in schooling. I further examine the ways in which neoliberalism shapes the decision-making process of educators, parents, and policy-makers, to weaken critical discourse that should inform important decisions in schooling, such as whether or not cursive writing is a valuable and important aspect of the curriculum. I assert that informed decision-making is key, and the main driving force behind it should provide very clear ideas of what people need to help them survive in the globalized educational context. I contend that the decision regarding dropping cursive from the curriculum was implemented without considering potential detrimental consequences. I also debate how this decision-making takes place. In order to give the reader a better appreciation of cursive I provide a historical background of handwriting. Then I look at the literature on Waldorf schooling, to point out the connections between embodied and aesthetic learning and to explain why it is that cursive is so integral to the curriculum. The pedagogy of multiliteracies explains why we need more than one approach to literacy and that learning should be about inclusion not exclusion. Brain-based research describes what cognitive psychologists have to say about the importance of cursivewriting and intellectual development. In this thesis I scrutinize the notion of choice and express my concerns with regard to providing all children with equitable resources for growth and learning – we make these decisions as adults in our roles as parents, teachers and policy-makers so we have a responsibility to carefully assess options not just based on immediate job needs or economic expediency. I argue that our society is full of risks and what we need to do in such an environment is to realize that there are a number of variables that affect our learning trajectory; we must therefore learn to navigate based on the decisions we make and choices we elect. To find answers to my inquiries I considered it important to pull together the abovementioned aspects of research and theory to provide a cohesive argument for the importance of cursive writing, and to theorize from existing adult education literature.
cursive writing, handwriting, curriculum