Friday, June 28, 2013

A lost art or another failure of the school system?

Two times in as many weeks, it was revealed to me that more and more young people cannot write and read in cursive. Recently, I was at a family gathering and a teenager was asked to read something aloud.  Through the whispering I heard, "I can't read that. I don't read cursive."  I was shocked at first, but then I realized I have students in my classroom every year who cannot read the words on the board if I write in cursive. When students turn in their work, the school no longer requires they write in cursive either.

Then recently the witness, Rachel Jeantel, from the George Zimmerman trial admitted that she cannot read cursive either.  (Her overall testimony left a lot to be desired, but that's not for this blog.)

I talked to a few teachers and they say cursive is still taught in the second or third grade.  That being the case, then why by middle school years is it as if students were never taught it?

Some people say there is no longer a need for cursive. That it is outdated and of little use since the keyboard is used so often each day.

Others say that cursive is still important especially for such things as writing your signature.  On many legal documents you are asked to "print" your name first and then sign with your signature.  What about when signing your paycheck?

What about the ability to read original historical documents like 

The Declaration on Independence

or The Bill of Rights?

Also, as a teacher, where time is of the essence, writing in cursive is quicker and therefore more efficient when taking notes, writing an essay, writing on the board, etc.  But, writing legibly in cursive also takes time to practice and since data is not collected on penmanship, standardized test scores are not based on penmanship, and funding is not gained by penmanship, that is probably the real reason the schools don't "waste" much time on it.

When cleaning my classroom earlier this week, I came across an old Zaner-Bloser Penmanship Book.   I am sure it was left in my room from some veteran teacher from long ago.  But during this upcoming school year, if I still have to waste time having students eat breakfast in the classroom and  waste time while the recording over the intercom preaches about how to breathe in and out to remain calm throughout the day, I just might waste some time practicing cursive penmanship.

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