Cursive handwriting coming back to schools by law

California passed a law last month requiring the teaching of cursive or "joined italics" handwriting in grades one through six, emphasizing its value in reading historical documents, improving writing speed. The push for cursive education has faced criticism, with opponents arguing that time in the classroom could be better spent on skills like coding and keyboarding. However, supporters point to studies linking cursive to cognitive abilities and as a helpful for those with dyslexia and dysgraphia.

In 2016, Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva, prompted by then-Gov. Jerry Brown, began advocating for cursive's return, finally succeeding after seven years. Similar initiatives have been undertaken in other states, such as New Hampshire, where Gov. Chris Sununu signed a bill requiring cursive and multiplication tables in schools. Despite these efforts, critics remain skeptical, emphasizing the importance of more relevant skills, especially during the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

From The Daily Montanan:

The late William Klemm, a neuroscience professor at Texas A&M University, is widely cited by advocates for his article a decade ago in Psychology Today maintaining that learning cursive "is an important tool for cognitive development." Cursive helps to train "the brain to learn 'functional specialization' — that is, the capacity for optimal efficiency," he wrote.

A 2019 study published by PLOS One and listed in the National Library of Medicine, found that "there is increasing evidence that mastering handwriting skills play an important role on academic achievement."

And a 2020 study from researchers in Norway made the direct connection between "writing by hand" and "synchronized activity" in a particular part of the brain "important for memory and for the encoding of new information and, therefore, provides the brain with optimal conditions for learning." The study recommended that all forms of writing — printing, cursive and typing — be taught to strengthen "both cognitive development and learning efficiency."

Many teachers are already requiring students to handwrite papers as a way to prevent their use of AI. Of course, the students could just hand-copy the machine-generated text.