Sunday, February 24, 2013

Cursive Writing

On her Washington Post education blog, Valerie Strauss poses the question “Should cursivewriting be required? A N.C. bill would mandate it.” The bill would add cursive the standard curriculum in North Carolina, a skill not included in the Common Core. Apparently, some consider printing sufficient for schoolwork whereas others consider cursive important to write creatively.

I don't think the issue is one of creativity as suggested in this article. Being creative depends on how you learn to communicate and think. I think in English. Other people think in Chinese. I happen to think at the keyboard. My wife thinks better with a pen in her hand. We're both creative writers. My form of writing capitalizes on functionalities hers does not since my work is always where I left it, easy to scan, readily spellchecked, easy to edit, and it never has to be typed when it's done. Still, my wife is an extremely creative writer, using the tools she was taught. If we teach kids early to write on computers, they'll learn to write, creatively, on computers.

The issue may really be access to technology. Do all kids have personal computers or other electronic devices? And what it they lose them? If I lose my pencil, I get a new one today. If I lose my laptop, it's a bigger deal. I can readily picture word processing totally supplanting the need for cursive writing, but we have to make sure that children have (and sometimes break or lose) the devices they need.

I have a final but primary concern about handwriting and that is its relationship to homework. Current academic policies include time based school days, but time estimated (really content based) homework sessions. Whether children print, use cursive, or type their assignments, they don't all work at the same speed. This creates a major problem with homework since, unlike school, it must be worked on until it is done. With that philosophy, there will always be children who are left behind because they cannot do the work within the estimated amounts of time. If we don't teach them cursive, but require them to do their assignments in paper and pencil form, and don't set time boundaries on what they have to do, we set some up for failure, and that is neither productive nor fair.

For more information on Dr. Goldberg's model, read other postings on this blog, visit his website, The Homework Trap, or read his book, The Homework Trap: How to Save the Sanity of Parents, Students and Teachers. 


No comments: