Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Sign Your X Right Here

Today’s Washington Post had an article on handwriting, or, more accurately, on the diminishing skills in handwriting of today’s youth.

It came as a surprise to me that cursive handwriting is barely being taught in schools today. Being of the generation that learned it and actually took pride in penmanship, I assumed it was still being taught. I admit I don’t use it as much as I did before the computer came into common usage, but it still comes in handy when taking notes (faster than printing).

On first glance, you might think, so what? Nowadays, practically everyone has a computer or a laptop. A lot of us have PDAs for taking notes or tracking names and numbers. And they do, at least, still teach block writing. The Washington Post article, however, points to “research that shows children without proficient handwriting skills produce simpler, shorter compositions, from the earliest grades.”

Despite the studies, though, primary grade students today may receive only 10 minutes a day of instruction in cursive handwriting. The article noted one school where the gifted-and-talented third graders were taught cursive once a week. Not necessarily so they would be able to write it, but so they would be able to read it. Even at that age, they type their work.

But if the loss of handwriting skills affects the cognitive process, what does this mean for the future writers? Even for those of us who now do first drafts on the computer, we did, at some point, learn how to write in cursive. We received the benefit of learning this process. “The neurological process that directs thought, through fingers, into written symbols is a highly sophisticated one.” The article goes on to say, “Several academic studies have found that good handwriting skills at a young age can help children express their thoughts better -- a lifelong benefit.”

If this is true and if the trend of not teaching cursive continues or worsens, we will all see the results within a generation or two. Is this just another step in the trek of dumbing down America?

(Thank you to author Jim Gramon for sending the link to this article.)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...