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School board addresses cursive writing concerns

Thursday, April 17, 2014 9:26 PM
Last updated Friday, April 18, 2014 12:55 AM
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Citing a “strong relationship between learning and writing cursive,” the Rich­mond County Board of Edu­cation on Thursday approved adjusting school curriculums to add 30 to 40 minutes of practicing cursive writing to classroom sessions.

After board members voiced concerns over how much time schools were using to focus on teaching cursive writing skills, Superin­ten­dent Frank Roberson made a presentation describing
the necessity of teaching them.

Roberson presented data that showed “20 to 40 percent” of third- to eighth-grade students in Richmond County elementary and middle schools had unsatisfactory cursive writing skills.

While cursive is being taught in county schools, beginning in third grade, the skills are not tested, leaving it up to individual teachers to decide how cursive is taught.

The new instructional period will be included in elementary and middle school language arts classes, in addition to special school programs and extended learning blocks. Teachers will receive instruction ensuring they can teach cursive writing. High schools that show a high population of students with deficiencies in the ability will be targeted for specialized instruction.

The new instructional period will begin toward the end of April, after students complete CRCT testing. The cursive classes will continue as a staple part of school curriculum.

“Some say this is a technologically literate age. Students will learn to write on a keyboard. And we want to keep that. It’s important,” Roberson said. “But we want the best of both worlds. Stu­dents need to graduate from our schools knowing how to write and read cursive. “

Roberson gathered information on the number of students with deficient cursive writing skills by surveying teachers and principals in elementary and middle schools, quizzing them on how many students in their classrooms were struggling with penmanship.

“Some people may see it as a simple, elementary skill, but it is important for learning,” Roberson said. “Learning cursive benefits your brain."

Roberson used himself as an example when arguing how cursive writing augments cognitive ability. The superintendent, who had impaired cognition and memory after brain surgery, said learning to rewrite cursive helped “heal” his mind.

“It helped my brain repair connections and gain neurons," he said. "It’s an efficient way to improve learning ability.”

Recent research does support Roberson’s claims. A 2009 study published in the science journal Cognitive Neuropsychology said learning cursive is important for cognitive development.

The board passed the curriculum change unanimously, will little discussion.


The Richmond County Board of Education gave final approval to various “rightsizing” plans proposed earlier this year. After holding several community meetings for input, the board approved the following changes:

• Close Collins K-8 School this summer;

• Close National Hills Elementary School in June 2015;

• Close Murphey Middle School and reconfigure T.W. Josey High School into a grade 6-12 school, with eighth-graders moving in 2015 and sixth- and seventh-graders following in 2017;

• Close Sego Middle School in 2019, with Sego’s eighth-graders moving to Butler High School in 2018 and sixth- and seventh-graders following.

Comments (5) Add comment
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jimmymac 04/18/14 - 08:52 am

There has been a misguided move to stop teaching cursive writing in many schools. This directive is very wise and I applaud Dr. Robertson for his thinking.

Riverman1 04/18/14 - 10:13 am
Kind of Hope No One Reads This Comment

I can’t resist it. I understand most are going to oppose my comment, but have to point out a few things. I’d rather see more time teaching kids to type.

The 2009 study published in the science journal Cognitive Neuropsychology that said learning cursive is important for cognitive development is so suspect. I’ve read it and other works on the subject. I can only take so much BS. I’ll post a link at the end to a paper that examines the studies all aspects and is trying to be pro-cursive.

The idea that Roberson mentions that writing cursive can help improve your brain, is probably true, but there are many activities that do the same thing. They are simply too numerous to mention. I read such statements as the brain and hand have to work together to focus on one point on the paper. Well, loop de do. When I type both my hands work on the key board and my brain is focused on the monitor. What’s happening to my brain?

I have absolutely nothing against learning to write cursive, but I can tell you when I learned to type it had enormous benefits, especially in the age of the internet. For your personal note taking, if you print the words why should it matter?

When I first went in the Army I often had to work nights and had little to do but stay awake in this office. There was a typewriter on the old Army desk and I had a guy show me how to place my fingers and eventually learned to touch type during those boring nights with the slow moving clock.

Looking back, I’m so happy I learned to touch type. Learning to type and use word processors today will open so many doors for you in many fields.

Sweet son
Sweet son 04/18/14 - 11:40 am
Me too Riverman!

Took typing in the 12th grade and am glad I did. Not so good at it, but I don't have to look down at the keys when I am composing this.

Used to love to take the cylinder out and tell my teacher that someone had monkeyed with my machine. :)

Had a great 'do nothing' 12th grade. Typing, study hall, chorus, business math, physics (which I loved) and of course the dreaded English.

dichotomy 04/18/14 - 07:33 pm
Yeh, I kind of hope nobody

Yeh, I kind of hope nobody reads this one too.

Hmmm, the public schools I attended taught me to write cursive in the first 2 or 3 years of ELEMENTARY school AND had me typing 60 wpm in a HALF SEMESTER course in junior high. Throw in 2 years of algebra, 1 of geometry,1 year of algebra III and trig, 2 years of German, 1 of Latin, along with all of the other normal English, history, and all of the rest and I just don't have much sympathy for letting our kids slide without learning the WRITE.

But then, we've already conceded that we can't teach them to READ or DO MATH either so why not. Most of the kids I see graduating high school today could not have passed the test we had to take to move from elementary school (1 - 6) on to junior high school (7 - 9). They absolutely could not have cut it in our high schools. They should have been competently writing cursive in the 3rd grade. If the kids are not learning to read even to the 8th grade level, and they are not learning to do math, and now you don't want to teach them to write.....just what the hell ARE they teaching them in school?

Let's just throw our hands up in the air and admit that our kids are too dumb to do anything, we are completely incapable of teaching them anything, and that we are running the most expensive baby sitting service in the world and not doing that too well either.

And don't give me that crap about "they have computers and we did not". WE, our generation, INVENTED computers and brought them into the workplace. We also invented cell phones. We were able to do that because WE LEARNED TO WRITE CURSIVE in the 2nd and 3rd grade and we learned to READ and to DO MATH. "WE LEARNED" being the operative phrase. I would not hold my breath waiting for this generation of block printing thumb typists to invent much that changes the world.

Willow Bailey
Willow Bailey 04/18/14 - 08:37 pm
So why does it have to be an

So why does it have to be an either or choice? Many of us learned to print, write in cursive and keyboard.

Willow Bailey
Willow Bailey 04/18/14 - 08:37 pm
So why does it have to be an

So why does it have to be an either or choice? Many of us learned to print, write in cursive and keyboard.

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