Sunday, September 22, 2013

Writing Cursive, Cursing Cursive

So my kid just came and asked me how to writing a cursive I.

"Now what now?" I asked, not even understanding this question, since she never writes anything by hand anyway, so why....

"I'm lettering," she said impatiently.  "My comic, I need --"

"Oh."  I looked around.  But of course I never write anything by hand either anymore, so there's no pen or paper or pencil or anything anywhere around here.  (It is one of the common cries you hear in our household, me lamenting, when it comes time to pay the bills, because I still do pay a few bills by check, how is it possible, I will lament, that we have two writers and an artist living here, and there is never a pen anywhere in the house?)

Anyway.  What I finally did, I took her to Wikipedia and found her this chart, which shows what all the cursive letters are supposed to look like, though as I recollect mine never did, and certainly do not now.

But this page is even more interesting.

It tells us that on the SAT in 2006, only 15% of US students wrote their answers in cursive; and that although most schools (90%) still require that cursive be taught, most teachers have no training in teaching it.

I'll tell you my kid has abysmal handwriting, though she did get a ton of handwriting practice at the Montessori school. (I have no idea whether her teachers had formal training in the teaching of cursive writing.)

I'll tell you also that I'm not much worried about it, because she literally almost never had to write anything by hand.  Even this "cursive I" that she is "writing," she is actually drawing with a pen and a tablet on a computer screen.  Which I suppose is a kind of writing.

I'd say we're maybe ten to twenty years from everything being done on keyboards.  Indiana and Hawaii have already dropped the requirements for teaching cursive, substituting keyboarding proficiency instead.

I understand there's a theory that learning cursive develops pathways in the brain that keyboarding doesn't.  But I imagine teaching art and music would develop those pathways as well.  Instead of spending hours learning an archaic technique students will never use, spend those hours on art and music.  Why not?

I know my kid would be happier.  Well, about the art, anyway.

(She's still resolutely refusing to learn to play a musical instrument.)


Bardiac said...

I think people are overanxious about the cursive issue. Handwritings change all the time; no one worries that they can't write secretary hand these days, or book hand. And it's not that hard to learn to read either, so it won't be that hard to learn to read cursive should someone want to do that in 2250.

I think some form of handwriting is going to be useful for people well into the future. Maybe that's just me thinking, though?

Athena Andreadis said...

Generally, the more basic the knowledge skill, the longer its half-life & the less its dependency on tech-du-jour (think stone tablets versus zip drives). Knowing how to write will serve us well when we no longer have battery-powered tablets. If we get to write at all.

delagar said...

Here's why the kid wanted to learn to write cursive, btw:

Bardiac said...

Cool art!

RPS77 said...

There was actually a part-time handwriting teacher in elementary school when I was a kid. My cursive was always bad, among the worst in my class. I stopped using it in middle school when I couldn't read my own writing.

I don't know if cursive will continue to be taught indefinitely into the future, but I'm sure basic printing (which is how I write everything by hand) will.

delagar said...

Basic printing is actually what I prefer from my students.


I prefer typed documents when at all possible (and set up my classes so that that can happen as often as possible) but when they HAVE to write by hand, I like it when they print.