Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Curse on Cursive?

Today I read an interesting article discussing cursive writing and education.
Is it necessary to teach handwriting anymore?
Cursive brings back some entertaining memories.
I remember some seriously dark days in elementary school with those cursive lessons in loops and curls. At 10 years old, I practiced my big fat O's and G's so that they were the loopiest and curliest in the whole fifth grade.
However, my teacher, Mrs. Cochran, didn't appreciate my jolly, rotund lettering.
She wanted the letters to be long, lean and slanted.
As a result, I had to stay inside for recess and practice my cursive letters in the painted white lines on the blackboard. Clearly, I was being punished for my loopiness.....
And now, it is a though Mr. Cursive is perched on a rocking chair, chewing sunflower seeds and counting out his twilight years wondering if anyone will ever need him anymore.
I believe we are close to the end for the poor old guy.
To be honest, the demise of cursive makes me a little blue. I associate fine handwriting skills with elegance and culture and I am especially intrigued by professional writers who choose to write-out their entire drafts in cursive. These are the ones who enjoy the intimacy of the pen and the paper and the way it connects to their thoughts as they craft their ideas. Too, I have often admired beautiful handwriting the way I would admire someone dressed with impeccable style and finished detail. Polished handwriting skills demonstrate a pride and effort often missing in today's ultra-casual culture. The bottom line is that I believe I will miss this unique component of our language and communication.
Of course, there are a few veteran second and third grade teachers who will cling to Mr. Cursive's tradition and try with admirable efforts to squeeze him between lessons on the wet lands and chapters from The Diary of a Wimpy Kid. But, the sad truth is that there is simply little time for cursive in the typical classroom schedule anymore. I predict it will eventually become a skill associated with "artsy" people who might be hired to write names in fancy loopy cursive at children's birthday parties.
Eureka...I think I see my second career.
Wouldn't Mrs. Cochran be surprised?
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Cheryl Lage said...

I am SOOO sad about the demise of cursive! The year after second grade, I changed elementary schools. In the schoolI left, they taught it in third grade; in the school I entered, they taught it in second. I taught myself using an article from Ranger Rick magazine which had replicated a "handwritten" letter from a girl whose cursive I admired.

I used to take great pride in my penmanship...now, handwritten notes are semi-scrawled from "rusty," computer-trained hands.

My kids? They were taught through the letter "N." Then, no more. I'm supplementally homeschooling my son who needs to know how to endorse checks, write thank yous, sign cards. She-Twin taught herself...she likes how it looks.

You've struck a nerve on this one...thank you for raising this issue! :)

Crazy Mom of Three said...

I was just talking to my daughter's Kindergarten teacher today about this very thing. I think the pushing down of all the curriculum these days is a bit over the top. No time for cursive? What is the urgency that kids need to learn everything so early now that we don't have time for cursive? Why can't it be remembered that childhood is fleeting? What is with the rush, rush? No time to even learn to write on paper in a flowing way. (Cursive is actually easier than the extra time needed to pick up the pencil after printing each letter I think ...)

Barb, sfo said...

I know a (now-retired) second-grade teacher who maintained that learning cursive helped children also learn to deal with consonant blends in reading. I'm sad to see it go and happy that, at least in grade school, my kids have always been required to use it.

dj said...

It's too bad we're losing cursive. Handwriting can be a form of self-expression. I remember trying out different styles at different times of life, attempting to show personality.

Laura said...

Miss Cheryl, my cursive can be painfully crooked when my arthritic fingers refuse to cooperate.
Crazy Mom, I agree that our curriculum feels rushed in schools.
Barb, I think a lot of language lesson combining can be implemented in cursive lessons but what do I know? I'm just a middle school teacher.
D.J.....Did you ever make "hearts" for dotting your I's? I sure did.

dj said...

I don't remember hearts, but I did experiment with circles for my dots. I also tried dramatically triangular "tails" on g's, y's, etc.

Terra said...

I was just telling my girls this week about the nights of writing and rewriting papers in INK in CURSIVE till perfection was met, no white out was allowed, no mistakes...slow and careful writing was expected...I hated it, now - I miss that for them.