Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Computerized Child and Cursive Writing

Shay's Selfie
I wrote a note on one of my grandchildren's birthday card recently. The money inside was important but the note needed to be read before the money went into the pocket. I was very puzzled when this child frowned and bent over the card trying to decypher what I had written.  I could only wonder if my handwriting had gotten so bad it could not be read.

My daughter explained that this generation of children have a problem reading cursive writing. A couple of days later a friend told me about her 22 year old grandson confessing that he could not read a letter she had written in cursive. Have you ever heard of this? I would never have guessed but it does seem very reasonable doesn't it?

The friends husband said that the trouble was that kids today are not educated! I don't think that is true but I do think that cursive writing may be going the way of inkwells and fountain pens. Things do change. I could only wonder...what else is changing, perhaps with children's minds, as a result of their learning experiences in a technology driven society.

Just a thought!

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  1. Handwriting matters — but does cursive matter? The research is surprising. For instance, it has been documented that legible cursive writing averages no faster than “printed” handwriting of equal or greater legibility. (Research sources are available on request.)
    Further research demonstrates that the fastest, clearest handwriters are neither the “print”-writers nor the cursive writers. The highest speed and highest legibility in handwriting are attained by those who join only some letters, not all of them – making only the simplest of joins, omitting the rest, and using print-like shapes for letters whose printed and cursive shapes disagree.

    Reading cursive matters, still — just because cursive exists where one cannot avoid the need to read it. However, even quite young children can be taught to read handwriting which they are not taught to replicate.
    Reading cursive can (and should) be taught in just 30 to 60 minutes — even to five- or six-year-olds, once they read ordinary print. (In fact, now there’s even an iPad app to teach how: named “Read Cursive,” of course — .)
    So why not simply teach children to _read_ cursive — along with teaching other vital skills, such as some handwriting style that’s actually typical of effective handwriters?

    Educated adults increasingly quit cursive. In 2012, handwriting teachers from all over North America were surveyed at a conference hosted by Zaner-Bloser, a publisher of cursive textbooks. Only 37 percent wrote in cursive; another 8 percent printed. The majority — 55 percent — wrote a hybrid: some elements resembling “print”-writing, others resembling cursive. When even most handwriting teachers do not themselves use cursive, why mandate it?

    1. Thank you for your response. This answers some of my questions. In the end, maybe my handwriting is not the part print part cursive that younger people might use. Or it could be that my handwriting is no legible. Sigh!

  2. Cursive’s cheerleaders, such as graphologists, would like the rest of us to believe that cursive makes people smarter, or nicer, or beautifully graceful — to believe that it adds brain cells or "neuronal pathways" — or to believe instills proper etiquette, grammar, and patriotism — or that it confers other blessings which are in fact no more frequently found among cursive’s learners and users than among the rest of us. Some devotees of cursive allege that research supports their notions — citing studies that consistently prove to have been misquoted or otherwise misrepresented by the claimant. (Consistently, studies claimed to support cursive actually say something different when anyone looks up the research. Some of the "cursive" studies were not even about handwriting in any for, — the rest found advantages for handwriting over keyboarding, but no vantage for cursive over any of the other forms of handwriting.)

    So far, whenever a devotee of cursive claims the support of research, one or more of the following things has become evident when others examine the claimed support:

    /1/ either the claim provides no traceable source,


    /2/ if a source is cited, it is misquoted or is incorrectly described (e.g., an Indiana University research study comparing print-writing with keyboarding is perennially misrepresented by cursive’s defenders as a study “comparing print-writing with cursive”),


    /3/ the claimant _correctly_ quotes/cites a source which itself indulges in either /1/ or /2/.

    What about signatures and cursive? Here in the USA, at least — where children grow up being told by their elders that “signatures require cursive to be legal” — cursive signatures in fact have no special legal validity over any other kind. (This is quite surprising to the occasional well-meaning schoolteacher who finds out that one of her students is the child of an attorney, and who asks that parent to visit the class and “please help me make sure that the students know the law requires cursive for signatures”!

    You would think that the teachers and graphologists would have learned better, by now —but more than a few of them have quite calmly said to me, and presumably to anyone else who ventures to inform them upon the subject, that they would far rather misinform children in their care about the law of the land than provide correct information which threatened in any way the classroom reverence paid to writing with every letter joined up and variously re-shaped as necessary in order to make that possible.

    I suspect that questioned document examiners (specialists in the identification of signatures, the verification of documents, etc.) must run into the same teacherly stubbornness if they ever tell a teacher what they tell me: namely, that the least forgeable signatures are the plainest (including the “print-written” ones).
    Most cursive signatures are loose scrawls: the rest, if they follow the rules of cursive at all, are fairly complicated: these make a forger’s life easy.
    All writing, not just cursive, is individual — just as all writing involves neuronal,pathways and fine motor skills. That is why any teacher of small children can immediately identify (from the “print-writing” on unsigned work) which of 25 or 30 students produced it.

    Mandating cursive in order to preserve the skill of handwriting resembles mandating stovepipe hats and crinoliness in order to preserve the art of tailoring.

    Kate Gladstone

    Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works •

    1. Wow, who knew. I taught kindergartners for the last 5 years of my career and you are right. I knew who had signed their name or who had drawn the picture just by glancing. Thank you for your input. I am not a staunch supporter for or against cursive. I just thought i was very interesting.

      Thank you again.

  3. Wonderful, intelligent exploration of this topic! It's so important.

  4. It always surprises me when people leave a comment. This was very interesting I thought. "Wonderful, intelligent exploration of this topic!" says just what I wanted to say. Thank you.

  5. I worked for the phone company--when they were a regulated monopoly digesting depostions and then supervising.
    In training--and AT&T/Western Electric was known to be the best corporate trainers outside of IBM--they spent an entire week teaching us to print their way. A week of just copying letters. But I still print that way and haven't written in script in over 30 years
    Once I was supposed to submit a handwriting sample to a graphologist for a job interview. I said I would print. They said no. I printed and was offered the job. Wouldn't take it
    I would make kids learn to read cursive because I would want them to read original letters and manuscripts and whatever. But write in cursive? My script was gorgeous--and totally illlegible. Huge waste of time--so I loved the week spent re-learning to print but couldn't say that--had to fit in. When ;people got to know me then....

    1. It is true that our life experience shapes our handwriting and that, even though we are trained to write or print, we will find a way to do it the way that works for us. This was an interesting story Pia.

      You also pointed out that employers that want to control us to the point that even our handwriting must fit their standards are missing out on some wonderful employees. You are the case in point.

      Be well.

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  7. Very well written article. It was an awesome article to read. Complete rich content and fully informative. I totally Loved it.Hire Professional College Paper Writers Site.


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