Sunday, September 20, 2009

back in the day.....

I was lamenting the fact that my son takes so long to write and I realized it was due to the fact that he doesn't know how to write in cursive. Is this something else for us 'Helicopter' parents to worry about. Well to quote Granpa, 'back in my day', taking notes in class was impossible unless you wrote in cursive, what about signing your name? I remember the pride and joy when I was able to master my 'grownup' signature! But if you ask any child below the age of 15, and I suspect some older than that, they don't know how to write in cursive!

Glancing through the papers this weekend, I came across this article in the New York Daily News.

Cursive writing is a fading skill, but do we care enough to save it?


CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston resident Kelli Davis was in for a surprise when her daughter brought home some routine paperwork at the start of school this fall. Davis signed the form and then handed it to her daughter for the eighth-grader's signature.

"I just assumed she knew how to do it, but I have a piece of paper with her signature on it and it looks like a little kid's signature," Davis said.

Her daughter was apologetic, but explained that she hadn't been required to make the graceful loops and joined letters of cursive writing in years. That prompted a call to the school and another surprise.

West Virginia's largest school system teaches cursive, but only in the 3rd grade.

"It doesn't get quite the emphasis it did years ago, primarily because of all the technology skills we now teach," said Jane Roberts, assistant superintendent for elementary education in Kanawha County schools.

Davis' experience gets repeated every time parents, who recall their own hours of laborious cursive practice, learn that what used to be called "penmanship" is being shunted aside at schools across the country in favor of 21st century skills.

The decline of cursive is happening as students are doing more and more work on computers, including writing. In 2011, the writing test of the National Assessment of Educational Progress will require 8th and 11th graders to compose on computers, with 4th graders following in 2019.

"We need to make sure they'll be ready for what's going to happen in 2020 or 2030," said Katie Van Sluys, a professor at DePaul University and the president of the Whole Language Umbrella, a conference of the National Council of Teachers of English.

Handwriting is increasingly something people do only when they need to make a note to themselves rather than communicate with others, she said. Students accustomed to using computers to write at home have a hard time seeing the relevance of hours of practicing cursive handwriting.

For the rest of the article, click here.

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