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Loop-De-Loops And Curlicues: Cursive Returns To Ohio Classrooms

Katie Phillips

Painstakingly drawn F's and goofy-looking G's were once commonplace in elementary school classrooms, but with the rise of keyboards came the fall of cursive. A law passed by the Ohio General Assembly, which takes effect this week, attempts to save the practice.

HB 58,signed into law by former Gov. John Kasich, doesn't require schools to teach cursive, but it does require the Ohio Department of Education to provide instructional materials for lessons.

"It's not a mandate because Ohio is a locally-controlled state, says Dr. Elizabeth Bridges, an English and language arts specialist. "So districts can choose to use the materials or choose not to, but we have made all that information available to them."

Bridges helped develop the guidelines, and says research points to benefits to learning cursive.

"Those students who use cursive writing are able to take notes at a quicker pace," she says. "The fluidity of cursive becomes automatic. It's more efficient."

And while technology is transforming the classroom, Bridges points out that access is not yet universal.

"Not all students are going to have access to computers. So for the daily recording of thoughts and ideas, having cursive as a tool is very very necessary," Bridges argues.

Plus, some studies suggestthat writing with pen and paper helps students retain information for longer.

"There are some advantages to cursive that you just can't get when you're using digital resources," she says.

Bridges doesn't discount technology as a pedagogical tool, though.

"It doesn't mean that handwriting is outdated and outmoded, it means that both handwriting and keyboarding need to co-exist," Bridges says. "Because we're not yet in a world that is only digital. It's a simultaneous teaching of both print and cursive and keyboarding."

Clare Roth was former All Things Considered Host for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU in February of 2017. After attending the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, she returned to her native Iowa as a producer for Iowa Public Radio.