In the Casper Star Tribune, Sunday, November 25, 2012, p A2, a headline by Christina Hoag, Associated Press, blared: “Penmanship still rules in Calif. Schools.” A subtitle read: “Most states erase cursive writing from their curriculms (sic); keyboard skills become higher priority.” Do you find it ironic that the person keyboarding that title misspells curriculums?
“Bucking a growing trend to eliminating cursive from elementary school curriculums or making it optional, California is among the states keeping longhand as a third-grade staple,” said the article.
The article also stated, “Dustin Ellis, fourth-grade teacher at Big Springs Elementary School in Simi Valley, said he assigns a cursive practice packet as homework, but if he had his druthers, he’d limit cursive instruction to learning to read it, instead of writing it. Out of his 32 students, just three write in cursive, he noted.” (If no one writes in cursive, what will there be to read of it?)
The article adds…“Many younger teachers aren’t prepared to teach cursive or manuscript, said Kathleen S. Wright, national handwriting product manager for Zaner-Bloser Publishing, which develops instructional tools.”
So what have we gained by eliminating cursive writing? While, “some see it as a waste of time…others see it as necessary so kids can hone fine motor skills, reinforce literacy and develop their own unique stamp of identity,” said the Tribune article.
According to an article in the New York Times, by Maria Konnikova, June 2, 2014, “Two psychologists, Pam A. Mueller of Princeton and Daniel M. Oppenheimer of the University of California, Los Angeles, have reported that in both laboratory settings and real-world classrooms, students learn better when they take notes by hand than when they type on a keyboard.” http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/03/science/whats-lost-as-handwriting-fades.html?_r=0
In a 2012 study, “The researchers found that the initial duplication process mattered a great deal. When children had drawn a letter freehand, they exhibited increased activity in three areas of the brain that are activated in adults when they read and write: the left fusiform gyrus, the inferior frontal gyrus and the posterior parietal cortex,” according to the Times article. This activity was not shown while typing or tracing a letter.
“Children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information. In other words, it’s not just what we write that matters — but how,” said this article.
While I would not wish to return to writing articles and stories by hand, I am thankful I had that skill taught and used throughout much of my life. And I see another reason for humans to learn cursive writing as well as keyboarding.
In spite of increasing ways humans can now communicate with each other, I see less meaningful communication, and more of the “attachment disorder” I feel our culture is culturing! Connecting in the presence of eye contact, facial expressions, emotive gestures, and maybe even touch seems to be going the way of cursive writing. Are we learning to connect emotionally or physically in the presence of someone else only to satisfy selfish desires? (Such as in physical gratification?) And text at all other times? It is not uncommon to see teens walking beside each other, or sitting in a restaurant booth together, concentrating solely on texting to someone or each other.
Cursive writing gives a piece of self to the reader. It is a tangible illustration that someone felt strongly enough about the reader to personally shape letters into words of meaning.
We need to feel emotion, to be a connecting link who cares about those we link to. Yes, I can type “I love you” as I just did. But “I love you” in my own handwriting seems to me to carry more emotion.
What do you think?