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Cursive Handwriting in Schools Target of Idaho Measure

A House panel in Idaho unanimously approved a bill today that calls on the state board of education to require public schools to teach cursive handwriting, the Associated Press reports.

The bill's lead sponsor, Republican Rep. Lindan Bateman, made an "impassioned" case for his resolution before the vote, the AP story says, in which he cited tradition, along with some handwritten letters supporting the bill.

The issue of teaching cursive has gotten renewed attention in recent years, as advocates fear its demise in the digital age.

The House resolution points to research to back up the push for teaching handwriting. "[T]he legislature recognizes that handwriting, based upon empirical evidence from neuroscience, plays a major role in the visual recognition and learning of letters," it says. "There have been studies where cursive handwriting has helped students with their fine motor skills and made them more graceful; these students show more of an interest in art because they are able to form things they hadn't before and they have new muscle movements that they didn't know before."

The resolution also raises some concerns about how the loss of cursive risks disconnecting people from the past. "[T]he legislature also recognizes that if cursive script is not taught, the time will come when people will not be able to read old diaries, journals, letters, documents and the like written in cursive," it declares. "This will have a negative effect on the study of geneology and family history and will weaken society's relationship to its past."

The state department of education has tentative plans to get behind the measure, spokeswoman Melissa McGrath told the AP.

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