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Elimination of cursive penmanship instruction is a step back for educationPosted Monday, July 11, 2011, at 2:05 PM
Writing in cursive may soon be a thing of the past.
All the fancy loops and flowing curves of cursive handwriting, also known as longhand or script, is disappearing from classrooms as the Indiana Department of Education announced this month that its teachers will no longer spend time teaching cursive.
Instead, they will teach keyboarding proficiency.
It looks like cursive handwriting is going away just like ink wells and chalkboards did a few years back.
What a shame and disappointment.
Indiana may be at the tip of a much larger trend.
The new national common core standards for English do not require schools to teach cursive writing, although schools can teach longhand if they want to.
Nationwide, 41 states have already adopted the core curriculum.
In general, I've supported the much needed educational reforms passed by the recent session of the General Assembly.
But to do away with the teaching of cursive handwriting is a mistake in my humble opinion.
Some classroom teachers say a lack of time in the school day -- and too much to teach -- contributes to the drop in penmanship lessons.
I'm not sure I agree wholeheartedly with that statement, but do recognize that new state reforms will and have already put new strains on the things that classroom teachers are expected to do.
To top it off, they will be evaluated on how well their students do on standardized testing, so I understand why educators want to teach and drill students for the important test assessments.
Now understand, my own personal cursive handwriting is hardly a work of art or an example of the way a young student ought to emerge from 12 years of public school instruction.
I vividly remember going to the blackboard at St. Paul Grade School in my primary years and carefully writing my alphabet in cursive to the watchful eye of our nun teacher who made sure every loop and curve was etched to perfection.
If it wasn't, we did it again and again until we got it right and to her approval.
Today, my handwriting on many days resembles the non-decipherable scribbling of a medical doctor.
I find it amusing that when I was in high school, I was selected to write students names into an English teacher's grade book because of my good penmanship.
Now, if you see my handwriting, you would wonder what that teacher was thinking to select me.
I tease those who comment on my "bad" handwriting that my reporter's notes are written that way in my own personal secret code so no one is able to "steal" my news thoughts and observations.
In general, cursive handwriting is a thing of beauty -- almost an art.
Have you seen a handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence? The cursive handwriting is very impressive.
Have you went to the Greene County Courthouse in Bloomfield and visited the Greene County Recorder's office and viewed a handwritten deed record from years ago and see how beautiful the handwriting was?
It appears classic penmanship will be left behind as preparation for state assessment tests dominate classroom times.
Some will claim the rise of the Internet, combined with a push to ensure that children are technologically literate, for rendering delicate handwriting an art of yesteryear.
I'm wondering if you think that's a good thing for all those future thank-you notes and other correspondence where cursive writing is expected.
Emphasis in U.S. schools has shifted from the beauty of handwriting, to writing efficiently and there is nothing wrong with stressing effective and efficient handwriting.
In Florida, handwriting was reinstated into state's school standards in 2006, after educators became concerned that it was slipping away from classrooms.
According to state guidelines, third graders must begin learning cursive, fourth graders must have legible writing and fifth graders must be fluent in the script.
Indiana should take note and re-consider its decision.
Nick is the assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be contacted by telephone at 847-4487 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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