Handwriting - Should we say goodbye?

Discussion in 'The Chatterbox' started by lradke, May 15, 2013.


Should children be taught to handwrite?

  1. Yes

  2. No

  1. alpla444

    alpla444 That's sweet!

    Handwriting is a must if you a police officer here in the uk everything you do gets wrote down in the black book and will be shown in court if required.
    And as mentioned a handwritten thank you goes a long way.
  2. ins0ma

    ins0ma Well-Known Member

    Some quick research reveals that the average kid in the US is in school between 1,200 to 1,600 hours a year. Is there time for cursive now? How about music class? PE? What subjects do you think a child might be missing out on by learning how to write? I may be old fashioned (I'm 39), and strangely passionate about this topic (for which I apologize), but I do feel that children at the absolute very least should be taught "the three Rs," along with other basic things like how to address an envelope, tie shoelaces (is there time for shoelaces? should we just use Velcro?), and recite their home address. I suppose it's true that we doesn't have to use cursive much on a daily basis anymore, the obvious exception being your signature, but the idea of living in a world where nobody writes beautifully, and everyone's handwriting looks uniformly like 3rd grade chicken scratches, gives me the shivers, and in my view would be a great cultural loss.

    I also prefer real books made of paper to reading on my iPad, try to cook meals from scratch instead of eating fast food or boxed meals, and tend to enjoy music primarily made with physical instruments rather than digital loops and samples, even though the alternatives are theoretically less time-consuming, so clearly your milage may vary. . . :)
    178-bplatoon likes this.
  3. jabberwock

    jabberwock Well-Known Member

    Not too long ago knowing how to write a check was extremely important, now checks are old fashioned. Most folks use their debit cards and pay their bills online. When I was growing up carrying change for the payphone was a vital survival tactic, now everyone has a cell phone (the same thing could be said of phone books and their usefulness). I remember when having a massive collection of encyclopedias and an intimate knowledge of the Dewey Decimal system was required to write a proper report, thankfully those days are over too.

    Things change. Old modes become obsolete and new ones take their place. Why spend time teaching a form of handwriting that very few people use in their daily lives? If you value it then you can teach it to your children the same way that shoe tying, learning your home address, and basic life skills should be taught...by the parents, at home. Looking back at the way folks used to write, even cursive seems sloppy when compared to the near lithographic style used just over one hundred years ago. Cursive is not necessary and is certainly NOT one of the so called three Rs. Writing is a skill that can be accomplished using many different tools, cursive is one of those tools, but not the only one. Cursive is nice, but so is calligraphy, illuminated script, and Morse code. It's time that cursive be placed where it belongs, with other interesting forms of communication that just aren't all that important any more. I use cursive, I like cursive, I will teach my children cursive, but I will not support its continued instruction in schools.

    Just remember, cursive is NOT writing, it is a form of handwriting, it's not even the most attractive or most efficient form. Short hand is faster and more efficient. Calligraphy is prettier. Illuminated script is more artistic. Cursive is just what we are used to. Maybe it's time for that to change.
  4. ins0ma

    ins0ma Well-Known Member

    I still think there's more to it than that. Learning cursive is part of an overall educational process, that involves reading and self expression as well as learning how to learn. Kids who do well with handwriting tend to do better academically than those who don't, and in fact we're seeing the reintroduction of hand-written components of college-entry tests because current educational theory suggests that a lack of handwriting skills contributes to trouble learning later on. Should we stop teaching children to do arithmetic with pencil and paper because calculators exist? Or is it possible that there's deeper value in learning these things? When kids struggle with handwriting, they also tend to have more trouble with math and reading than those who don't.

    I do take the point that cursive is not the only form of handwriting, and I suppose I could grudgingly accept a lack of cursive instruction in schools as long as there was a focus on some form of penmanship, but teaching cursive is an established, accepted and accessible means of improving communication, eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills, and is still taught to 75% of children in the US. As far as I know there's still a written portion of the SATs that requires a hand-written essay, "not printed."

    What about the rest of the world? Can anyone chime in about the state of cursive in the UK, France or Germany? Is traditional calligraphy still taught in Asian countries?
  5. Erik Redd

    Erik Redd Lizabeth, baby, I'm comin' to join ya.

    There's a difference between the time kids are in school and instruction time. This is from a 2011 Washington Post article comparing US instructional time with India's

    — The 800 instructional hours at the elementary school level is less than what is required at the elementary level in California (840 hours), Florida (900 hours in grades 4-6), New York (900 hours), Texas (1,260 hours), and Massachusetts (900 hours). Eight states require fewer than 800 hours of instructional time and in most of those, the reduced hours only apply to grades 1 through 3.
    — The 1,000 instructional hours India requires in grades 6-8 (middle school) is similar to the requirement in most states. According to the Education Commission of the States, 35 states require at least 990 hours of instruction at the middle school level, including Texas (1260 hours), New York (990 hours) and Massachusetts (990 hours).

    I was surprised that Texas requires more instructional time than California and Massachusetts, but it must be due to the way they define it, since it isn't reflected in student performance.
  6. ins0ma

    ins0ma Well-Known Member

    That's a valid point, Erik. Apparently in Texas they count recess and lunch as "instructional" time and that's why their numbers are higher. Interestingly, Finland is regarded as having the world's best educational system, and they have far less required instructional time than do most states in the US. Incidentally, children in Finland are required to learn two writing styles, printing and a more formal "semi-conjoined" style, cursive.
  7. NoobShaver

    NoobShaver BGDAAA

    In the U.S., no matter where you look, you need to ask, "How much of that time is spent teaching for standardized testing?" A lot of what goes on in schools is geared towards ensuring the institution keeps its marks up so it maintains federal & state funding.

    Meanwhile, I suspect that large chunks of India still follows the older model where school is not a public guarantee. Thus, they spend much of their time forming youth who are either a) personally motivated to be there or b) have families that are motivated to make them go.

    In my opinion, comparing India to the U.S. is similar to comparing apples to oranges. That said, I'd love to see us move away from standardized testing towards youth formation. Cursive could be a part of that- you can form youth through many different means. However its done, formation is more interested in helping the youth become more fully and positively themselves, rather than trying to fit them into a standardized cog in the machine.
    ins0ma likes this.
  8. Erik Redd

    Erik Redd Lizabeth, baby, I'm comin' to join ya.

    And I'm sure students in Finland spend much more time on foreign languages. That's one area I think the US lags the rest of the developed world in their education system.

    And I agree with NoobShaver about standardized testing and teaching to the test. I've got 3 kids in high school, the 9th and 10th graders spent a week taking a new type of standardized tests, the 11th and 12th graders weren't required to take the tests and they weren't going to do anything in class. They were required to come it at 10:30 and stay the rest of the day though, because if they weren't required to come in the school funding would have been reduced. What a waste.
  9. ins0ma

    ins0ma Well-Known Member

    The US is ranked #17 in the "developed" world in overall education, and recent tests put US students at 25th in math, 17th in science and and 14th in reading. We also spend a lot more on our education system than most of the better-performing countries.
  10. Ryan B

    Ryan B Knight of the Soapocracy

    I agree that we need to start teaching languages at a younger age. Since they have the option to press 2 for Spanish, they should start teaching it in school. My mom is from Puerto Rico and speaks Spanish as a first language. She was teaching me Spanish when I was little, so I was learning both Spanish and English. However, when I was starting school, I wouldn't talk much. They say that when young kids are learning more than one language, they don't talk as much because they are learning words in both languages. The educators thought I was autistic and tried to put me in special ed. They also told my mom not to teach me Spanish because it would impair my learning and make me learn slower. So as a result, I forgot what little Spanish I learned and had to re-learn everything in high school. I had to go through life as being a Puerto Rican kid who didn't know Spanish.

    The so called experts in education who come up with all these regs are clueless. School was a huge waste of time for me. I am horrible at math, so I never built a foundation. I got tested for Special Ed a few times, but always scored high enough to not go in there. It probably didn't help that I had teachers who called me stupid, but that's besides the fact.
  11. NoobShaver

    NoobShaver BGDAAA

    Eesh that's horrible.

    I live in an area within the U.S. where almost everyone is bilingual and Spanish tends to be the dominant language. I am very glad that the school my kids attend is teaching English and Spanish together. I'm hoping they grow up fluent in both.

    I wish the school system I went through had introduced languages earlier than high school. I also wish I had picked Spanish rather than French. Learning a new language in your mid 30s is not easy.
  12. Ryan B

    Ryan B Knight of the Soapocracy

    Yep it was pretty bad. Those idiots know nothing about education and learning. I will make sure that my kids all know Spanish almost as good as they know English. I wonder what goes through the mind of these highly educated people when they make decisions like that. Despite the fact that I had to wait almost 10 years for formal Spanish lessons, I learned a lot pretty fast. I also used it a lot outside the class too which made me that much better. The only thing I got marked off for was using the Puerto Rican dialect and using words they didn't recognize.
  13. swarden43

    swarden43 "It's your shave. Enjoy it your way."©

    I spent a couple years of high school going to Limestone (Maine, Dad was stationed at Loring AFB). French was mandatory for the Freshmen and Sophomores.
  14. white_feather

    white_feather Active Member

    I am all for curvise and also for penmanship quality as well.
    ins0ma, 178-bplatoon and Ryan B like this.
  15. I have 5 kids and all were home schooled from learning to read through basic math and writing in print and cursive.
    Our modern school system is turning out tech savvy yet oddly illiterate young adults with no grasp of spelling, phonetics or grammar. Yay for computers, internet, texting etc. I am appalled when I read magazines such as Popular Science and find errors such as the wrong words used (sum vs some) etc. Clearly even learned professionals are dependant more on spell check than amassed knowledge.
    Cursive writing is not an end product, but a necessary cog in the machine of a wholly literate individual.
    Learning cursive teaches patience in the formation of thoughts and ideas, slowing down the staccato spewing of words out of context and without due consideration.
    To say kill cursive as it's no longer required is to say the cashier need not understand how to make change, archaeology and anthropology serve no purpose, I need not use memory as all is stored in my phone....
    Just because society seems to turn it's back on cursive does not mean it is not required any more... it means our society is in decline. The loss of cursive and what it represents is a sad symptom of such.
    ins0ma, 178-bplatoon and lradke like this.
  16. swarden43

    swarden43 "It's your shave. Enjoy it your way."©

    A reporter interviewed Albert Einstein. At the end of the interview, the reporter asked if he could have Einstein's phone number so he could call if he had further questions.
    “Certainly” replied Einstein. He picked up the phone directory and looked up his phone number, then wrote it on a slip of paper and handed it to the reporter.
    Dumbfounded, the reporter said, "You are considered to be the smartest man in the world and you can't remember your own phone number?”
    Einstein replied, “Why should I memorize something when I know where to find it?”
  17. Shaver X

    Shaver X Well-Known Member

    Sure. Who wants to raise an illiterate kid? People who can keyboard but not write are not fully literate. It's like being able to add but not subtract.
    Ichabod Crayne and 178-bplatoon like this.
  18. jabberwock

    jabberwock Well-Known Member

    Again, cursive is not the only form of handwriting. Not knowing cursive does not mean that you do not know how to write by hand. Not knowing cursive is akin to not knowing short hand. Just because I can not read or write short hand does not make me illiterate; and likewise, just because a child does not know cursive does not make them illiterate. I know people who do not know how to use dip pens, does that mean that they do not know how to write with a pen? No, it does not. I don't know how to use the old school message boards, does that mean that I do not know how to post on forums? No, obviously not.

    Cursive is a FORM of handwriting, it's not even a particularly efficient or pretty form of handwriting. It's just the form that we are used to. That we equate cursive with superior abilities or learning has little to do with reality or with cursive's ability to teach a child good penmanship or language skills and everything to do with the fact that cursive was the tool frequently used to teach those skills. A child can learn good penmanship using any form of handwriting. A child can learn language skills such as reading comprehension and grammar even without knowing how to write. We cling to cursive because it is how we were taught, not because it is the absolute best tool. Change is good. Change is inevitable. Change happens whether we want it to or not, so we can either embrace the change and look for a better and more practical way to teach our children about penmanship, grammar, syntax, and reading comprehension, OR we can argue ad nauseum over the merit of an outmoded system of handwriting that absolutely IS disappearing. Cursive is not the only way to write, cursive is not even the best way to write. Let it go.
    Erik Redd likes this.
  19. lradke

    lradke and doggone it, people like me

    First of all... Happy Birthday!

    Now back on topic. :p

    I don't remember if I mentioned this in the OP or not...and to be honest I'm too lazy to check. But my wife and I 'discussed' this again the other day. I, personally, am in love with writing cursive. I no longer print, my printing is some printing/cursive hybrid, but most of the time I handwrite (and I MUST appologize...growing up the term Handwriting and cursive writing were synonymous). My wife has no use for it and I think she learned it, but her school was much more up to date than mine. She had a full computer lab where they practiced typing. My school had about 10 green-screen Macs with number munchers. SO we were educated in different atmosperes (so to speak).

    Now I do agree with what Jabberock is saying, change does happen, that's the exact point my wife has and to quote her "education needs to be up to date with the times"...I completely agree. BUT just as importantly I think it is important to learn cursive, lets say as a module in one or two grades because it is a different way of writing, but more to the point, it teaches proper word formation and grammer. It has been my experience that learning cursive teaches an individual better grammer and writing skills simpley because (in the begining) you have to think of how the word is written. In comparison, the years (yes years) of manditory typing lessons in computer studies, really all I found is that they cared about was wpm. words could be spelled wrong, but when you hit that space bar, your wpm goes up and that makes you a better typist. Now not to bash computers at all, I can draft a letter faster on a computer, initially, but then I have to go back and edit for spelling and grammar; but if I write one out by hand, I am FAR, FAR less likely to make a mistake in grammar or spelling. That is why I have a believe that it should still be taught.

    It's even comparable to (let's say) computer programming. My father is a programmer, and has been for close to 40 years. He knows programming inside out! Since he went to school (and learned to feed punch cards into a machine) the world of programming has changed. His delemma is that when he hires a new programmer to work for him (I think he has 100+staff reporting) he knows that though they may be good, they will always be sloppy and make mistakes. because they didn't take the time to learn the old way of programming, before systems were in place to catch mistakes. He told me that even though there are these systems to catch mistakes, their quality of work is lower than it should be because they have relied on the up to date technology to carry them on...whereas my dad has learned the old way to do things, so his quality of work is much higher, because he didn't have the chance to rely on systems catching your errors...he had to be right.

    Now I know it is a bit of a stretch but I find the same applies to todays youth. Spelling and grammar skills have plunged because of things like spell check, etc. they are relying on the systems of today to get them through their lives, because it is easier to do that then to take extra time to learn things the old way first, then move into the easier way of doing it (like the programmers my father hires). That is just one more reason why I am all for cursive to be taught. Now I say cursive, because that is what I know, and I know it takes more concentration to do than printing.

    Both have their place, it is true, but I really don't think this one should be done away with.
  20. 178-bplatoon

    178-bplatoon Well-Known Member

    My son is in 8th grade and I can tell you there damn little being taught in school. He's been in both private and public schools. School isn't about "learning" its about passing standerized tests,conformity and political correctness!! He's being made to learn Spanish in school not because it might be of use to him,but rather because it's considered politicaly correct...
    Can anyone count change anymore muchless write?? Can anyone raise and slaughter an animal,raise chickens or bees,grow food, make fire??? The answer for the most part is "NO" we don't need to know these things anymore....But should we no longer teach them? I think not.....People tend to forget there is nothing new, people today aren't any smarter then the caveman and old sayings (that aren't taught anymore) usually have a basis in truth... Those that forget about history are "DOOMED" to repeat it...All "GREAT" civilizations fall and so one day shall we. A simple truth is, those civilizations that continue to teach the basics of living, fair better at the end, than those that don't..That I.M.O. is a truth....of course "YMMV" :)

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