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House bill proposes resurrecting the dying art of cursive

You may remember the manuscript pads from school. You’d bring them home each day and show off your new “big letter” and “little letter” skills, and you’d be ever so careful to bring those loops in flawlessly when practicing cursive.

Whether you loved learning cursive, or look back on that time with disdain, you may be surprised to learn that cursive is no longer mandated to be taught to Mississippi kids.

One state representative hopes to change that.

“What this bill will do will mandate instruction of cursive writing the way it was when most of us were in school,” said Rep. Tom Miles.

House Bill 417 is not the first of its kind. Louisiana and Alabama have passed legislation that brings cursive back into the school objectives.

“The bill was filed in Alabama and went into effect last year,” said Miles. “And this bill is the same. I didn’t reinvent the wheel here.”

Miles said that over the summer, he learned from several teachers that cursive was nixed from the learning objectives because so much time has to be dedicated to preparing for standardized tests.

The representative said that while not learning cursive sounds like a small issue, it is making a big impact on students later on.

“I was speaking with one community college teacher,” said Miles. “She said she was writing her notes in cursive on the whiteboard and her students couldn’t read it, they couldn’t understand it.”

Miles said that students are growing up without a proper signature, signing legal documents in print.

Since cursive writing isn’t taught, reading cursive is also eliminated, which Miles said can rob a person of being able to understand historical documents.

“The Declaration of Independence is in cursive,” said Miles. “And our state constitution.”

But Miles said that there is another significant benefit to cursive writing, aside from reading historical documents or perfecting your signature.

The representative said the parent of a dyslexic child approached him and said learning cursive had boosted the child’s learning ability and confidence.

“There are studies that show using cursive can help those with dyslexia,” said Miles.

The International Dyslexia Association agrees that cursive is beneficial to those with the learning disability.

“When writing cursive, the word becomes a unit, rather than a series of separate strokes, and correct spelling is more likely to be retained,” Diana Hanbury King wrote in an article for the IDA’s journal. “All lower case cursive letters can begin on the line, so fewer of them are likely to be reversed.”

You can read the full wording of the bill here. 


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