Reading and writing are fundamental to learning. But as more kids read and write via some sort of computing device -- laptop, tablet, cellphone -- how we teach those skills is changing, and one significant change is the decision to teach cursive. When it comes to equipping students with "21st century skills," typing is in, cursive is out.
In part, the disappearance of cursive from the curriculum stems from the Common Core State Standards (now adopted by the majority of U.S. states), which no longer requires cursive as part of language arts and writing instruction. According to the Common Core's mission: "The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy." And the global economy, so the argument goes, requires students to be prepared to type, not prepared to write in cursive.
This isn't to say, of course, that handwriting instruction itself is scrapped. Students will still learn to craft their letters, and plenty of students are still likely to curse the requirements for neat penmanship. But in lieu of requiring students to specifically learn cursive, the imperative now is to teach students to produce and publish their written work by typing and word processing.
Knowing how to type and how to create documents on a computer is obviously important. And for most people, writing in cursive is a rare event. Once touted as more efficient than print, typing is more efficient than either form of writing by hand. And as such cursive may seem like an extraneous skill.