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Letter to the editor: Cursive writing helps kids' brains develop

Wednesday, February 5, 2014 - 12:01 am

The Indianapolis Star editorial board has dismissed as a “misplaced legislative priority” Sen. Jean Leising’s effort to require cursive writing instruction in Indiana schools. The Star wondered why time would be spent on such a trivial matter “in a state where the workforce ranks 42nd in the nation in educational attainment.”

Perhaps if the Star were more familiar with the latest neuroscience, it would endorse Sen. Leising’s initiative instead of ridicule it.

Cursive writing makes students smarter. That is the conclusion of numerous studies and the work of William Klemm, professor of neuroscience at the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University. Klemm explains that learning cursive is an important tool for cognitive development, “particularly in training the brain to learn functional specialization, that is capacity for optimal efficiency.” (March 14, 2013, Psychology Today).

When children learn cursive writing, their brains develop the ability to integrate sensation, movement control and thinking. “There is spill-over benefit for thinking skills used in reading and writing. To write legible cursive, fine motor control is needed over the fingers,” Klemm writes.

Indiana’s current academic standards do not require the teaching of cursive writing, but it should be part of every elementary language arts curriculum for the reasons Klemm cites. Sen. Leising is addressing the gap in our standards in a responsible way with wide public support.

Andrea Neal

Indianapolis