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Cursive or computerPosted Tuesday, December 4, 2012, at 2:17 PM
Will cursive writing go the way of the dodo bird?
Is it going to be a lost art or an outmoded way of communication?
It looks that way.
Cursive writing is slowly losing ground in elementary school curricula as technology invades the classroom. It is no longer high priority in many schools. There's now keyboarding, spellcheck, texting, and emails.
Already 45 states are moving toward adopting national guidelines that don't include cursive handwriting in 2014.
Instead, it requires proficiency in computer keyboarding by the time pupils exit elementary school.
Still, some states have added a cursive requirement to the national standard. Those states include California, Georgia and Massachusetts. Some states, such as Arkansas, have made it optional teaching for school districts.
My daughter, Judith Abbey, teaches cursive writing in third grade in Paragould School District. She was given a choice whether to opt out or not.
"Absolutely not," she said. "Students still need to be able to sign their names and read text that has been written in cursive."
She says she totally supports technology and thinks keyboarding should be introduced in kindergarten. She adds, "Just because it's new doesn't always make it better."
"Someday handwriting may be obsolete, but it isn't yet. How sad not to be able to read a handwritten note from your grandmother."
Mrs. Abbey teaches cursive writing as a regular course, with grades.
But, she says it is getting more difficult to find time to schedule it. Other required subjects are crowding out the time once used for teaching cursive. "It's definitely harder to find the time," she says.
She finds about 30-45 minutes a week instruction time....usually about 15 minutes at a time. "Mostly I have to combine it with something else, like writing their spelling words in cursive, or copying a short poem for seat work first thing in the morning."
She notes that her students go to computer lab once a week for 40 minutes, and she supplements by having them type something they wrote in class. However with only two computers in the classroom, that poses a problem.
Some educators believe more time needs to be spent in teaching math or reading, not writing.
A new survey shows Kansas elementary students also receive instruction in cursive writing but interest in teaching the subject is waning.
While I was shopping at a Goody's store recently, I saw a man with a clipboard taking some kind of inventory. I approached and asked if he was writing in cursive. He said he wasn't, and noted that in Tennessee, where he resides, teachers aren't required to teach cursive writing anymore.
He thinks that is a mistake. "They, at least, need to know how to sign their name," he said. "There are always documents that need signatures."
One educator stated, "If we do away with cursive we will be forgetting our history and failing to honor time honored traditions."
Also, researchers point to studies that demonstrate cursive writing stimulates areas of the brain untouched by keyboarding and helps children develop skills in reading, spelling, composition, memory and critical thinking. Today we are letting the computer do much of that for us.
Others say we aren't losing anything; we are gaining convenience and a greater ability to communicate through the use of technology.
Cursive was, and still is an art, not a necessity, some say.
Whatever it was, to me it was a great achievement in grade school as I formed and connected the letters of the alphabet.
I prided myself on my penmanship and used it throughout my lifetime. I was a senior in high school before I was introduced to typing, but that didn't replace cursive writing. I found a balance between handwriting and typing.
I eventually forgot my typing skills and didn't reintroduce those skills until I was almost 40 years old and began to write.
By then, I had a firm foundation in spelling, reading, composition and handwriting.
Some proponents of handwriting say it is much quicker than printing. It also benefits brains, coordination and motor skills, as well as connects to the past, whether to handwritten historical documents like the Constitution or to their parents' and grandparents' letters.
Is technology cursing cursive writing?
Only time will tell.
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