SAN FRANCISCO — Traditional handwriting is making a comeback in schools in one state after a new bill was just signed into legislation.
On Friday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill that will require cursive instruction in first through sixth grade.
Abigail Soriano-Lentz is the English Language Arts Curriculum Coordinator for the East Side Union High School District.
Soriano-Letz said if you were to ask educators, there’s a wide range of points of view on cursive and research shows there are benefits.
“Handwriting actually activates different parts of the brain that do not get activated when printing block letters or typing,” Soriano-Letz said.
Cursive writing is part of the state standard, but it varies with each classroom.
Now that AB 446 has been signed, learning cursive is going to be new for students and for some teachers.
“For thirteen years our teacher education programs have said cursive is not part of the standards so we have quite a chunk of teachers who have not taught it and who haven’t needed to teach it and some who probably were not taught it themselves,” Soriano-Lentz said.
At the high school level, Soriano-Letz said there’s a mix of students who can and cannot read and write in cursive. Those who cannot have a difficult time looking at primary source documents in history and English classes.
Soriano-Letz said as artificial intelligence becomes a factor, handwritten essays may be something to consider.
Beth Hankoff is an English and Language Arts private tutor. She said mandates can be tricky, and teaching should be open for different kids.
“A lot of the neurodiverse and disabled kids I’ve worked with actually do better with cursive,” Hankoff said. “I’ve read that it has something to do with a different part of the brain that’s the same part you use for drawing and those flowing movements can really help kids- they don’t have to keep picking up the pencil and replacing it and where on the page to place it. I’m judging this from their words and their work.”
Victoria Lara is a calligrapher based out of Napa and works throughout the Bay Area. Four years ago Lara turned her passion into a business and started Blossom and Ink Studio.
She said learning cursive has helped transfer her skill of lettering to engravings and wood burning. At almost every event, Lara said people appreciate her work and tell her “It’s a dying art.”
“Having something handwritten is just- it’s a different feeling it’s a very emotional feeling behind it,” Lara said.
Lara said her son in high school wasn’t taught cursive as much, and he’s learned the skill more through her calligraphy.
“Now he’s used to it. It definitely takes him a little longer to read the notecards or whatever it is but he definitely has gotten used to it now and that’s something I told him honey like- we need to work on your cursive,” Lara said.
Lara supports the effort to bring the basics of cursive to the classroom.
“If it’s something they truly love and truly are passionate about – they’ll continue exploring that even years down the line. For myself it’s been years since I practiced it in the classroom but now being able to have that as my business, it just makes me so happy,” Lara said.