Sometimes it can be difficult for rapidly aging editorial writers to know if they are just being nostalgic when they cast a sigh toward the passing of a fading cultural fixture.

It's possible, for instance, to wax longingly for the days when vinyl records were slid from paper sleeves and needles were gently dropped to the pop and crack that preceded a favorite song. But isn't it a big improvement that, with the swipe of a finger across a phone, you can hear "Devil with a Blue Dress On" anytime you want?

So we're not sure how catastrophic it is that more school districts are deciding they will no longer teach cursive, but it certainly seems like a loss.

Writing longhand, as it was called back in the day, used to be part of the state's language arts standards, but since the state adopted the national Common Core Standards, it is no longer required.

Districts can decide for themselves whether or not to teach cursive. Many are opting to spend the time instead on keyboarding, which at one time was called "touch-typing." A valuable skill, to be sure, but one that most young people, once they're introduced to the concept of home keys, will happily practice for hours on their own in the new digital world.

If, while reading this, you are remembering your own time in grade school - trying not only to perfect the curves of a capital S or R, but also the curves of your fingers, supervised by teachers who were very particular about how to hold a pen - you may be inclined to want to spare today's children the same experience.

Some teachers argue, however, that without learning to write cursive, students may never develop the ability to read it, and will therefore be unable to decipher the script of The Declaration of Independence or their grandparents' letters.

A more important consideration is that cursive is still the quickest way to take notes. Without it, students may have a harder time keeping up in other classes or jotting down that million-dollar idea.

But the real reason to pause at this passing is that it seems to be one more example of an unfortunate change in our schools. As education moves more and more toward meeting standards - teaching to the test - teachers are losing the time and flexibility necessary to help students explore a wider world of possibilities.

An education should be about more than cramming for standardized tests. It should be about more, even, than gaining the skills necessary to find and perform a job. It is often the extras that fall outside the Common Core Standards that contain the striking insight, the spark that lights something in students and creates a fascination worth a lifetime of pursuit.

That's a heavy burden to try to lay on learning cursive, of course. But it's worth wondering, as one more skill falls away, if our schools are putting too much emphasis on standards - and not enough on exceeding them.

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