Cursive writing no longer a requirement in many schools - Chicago News and Weather | FOX 32 News

Cursive writing no longer a requirement in many schools

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Is handwriting a dying art and does it affect your thinking skills? A shocking admission on the witness stand in the George Zimmerman trial brought to light the controversy surrounding cursive handwriting.

It was the prosecution's lead witness, Rachel Jeantel who said she did not read cursive, but it turns out she's not alone. There is a growing list of states that have erased cursive writing from its curriculum, now including Indiana.

"So now we don't have that anymore, so now we have kids being raised not knowing how to sign their name," Kenneth Stalling, former third grade teacher from Gary, says.

Doctors say not teaching handwriting and cursive to students impacts cognitive skills including memory, comprehension and speech.

Pediatrician and mother of two, Relinia Ghosh, joins a recent flux of parents who are seeking handwriting and cursive instruction for their children outside the classroom.

"Cognitively, if a child has the ability to express something but they're unable to put it on paper then they're not able to get their full abilities out," Ghosh explains. "If the time is not in the classroom, then you have to find other places to provide that for your child."

Northfield's Kids in Sync teaches what school districts have cut from the curriculum. Its director says something like cursive requires the use of many parts of your mind.

"Cursive and handwriting, any kind of fine motor task that's really a production of some kind of idea that's put on paper is really many areas of the brain that's being coordinated and integrated at once," Clinical Director Megan Carrick says.

Learning to write in cursive and staying in between the lines was once considered a rite of passage in elementary school, but not anymore. Technology is slowly killing the classic script taught in classrooms since the 19th century.

"Considering that so much time is spent on the iPads and the computers, I think it's getting close but I don't think we should let it," Gosh says.

Longhand has long been considered an extension of a person's personality. The national standard requires schools to teach handwriting but gives each school the option to teach cursive or print penmanship. In Illinois cursive handwriting is optional determined by each school district.

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