House Bill 146 requires that North Carolina’s public schools get “Back to Basics” by teaching elementary school children to memorize their multiplication tables and master cursive writing by the end of the fifth grade. The legislation passed unanimously in the House (and overwhelmingly in the Senate) and now awaits the Governor’s signature.
Teachers believe that the discipline, logic, and creativity that’s gained by learning these time-honored skills are important to creating a well-rounded child. Students remember words written on paper better than those that are typed on computer screens, and students who don’t learn to write cursively have a much harder time reading it, limiting their communication with others. And besides the practical uses of memorizing multiplication tables, multiplication is key to understanding fractions, algebra, and other abstract concepts.
Other experts say that learning cursive helps a child’s brain development and motor skills, because making repetitive movements on a computer keyboard is not the same development as connecting and writing shapes with fingers.
Surprisingly, these fundamental “old-school” requirements were not included in the federal government’s Common Core Standards, which North Carolina accepted several years ago. Earlier this year, members of the North Carolina House of Representatives introduced a proposal to study the impact of Common Core and to report on its findings to the General Assembly.
The new law would put the new “Back to Basics” requirements into place starting in the 2013-2014 school year.