Public schools in Indiana will no longer be required to teach students cursive writing come next fall, says the TribStar.com. Students will instead be required to be proficient in keyboard use.
That is, good-bye†D’Nealian; hello QWERTY.
My handwriting has completely declined — degenerated — since I carefully wrote and rewrote “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog,” even as the muscles in my thumb have evolved a new dexterity to type on a tiny touchscreen.†Rare is the time now when I pull out a scrap of paper to jot a note on. The odds of my losing the piece of paper are embarrassingly high and all the more as I use my cell phone instead.
But as the TribStar.com points out, students still need to practice their penmanship — to write their signature, for one thing — and to be able to read other people’s handwriting, not to mention to write essays for standardized tests. While typing on an electronic keyboard is faster for students and easier for teachers to read (decode), I still prefer to have my college students write out in-class tests and exams by hand, as it means I can tell them to put away all electronic devices and avoid cheating-via-Google-search.
For my husband Jim,†learning cursive was something more than a chore (exacerbated by the fact that his teachers were nuns in the 1960s). To this day, his writing is, well, not exactly legible by anyone (his f, i, r, s, t and other letters are sort of look alike). Our son, Charlie struggles mightily with the fine motor movements needed to write, despite years of efforts (including using the Handwriting Without Tears method). The ubiquity of devices with keyboards, not to mention email and texting, has been a very good thing for making sure the message doesn’t get lost in writing that resembles, as they say, “chicken scratch.”
It’s only very recently, indeed, that we’ve expected everyone to read and to write. In the 1960s (back when Jim was laboring away under the eyes of those nuns in their full habits), some were already arguing that cursive instruction was over-complicated, and called for a simplified form (like D’Nealian). Should more education departments follow Indiana’s and let an “archaic” practice go by the wayside — or is there some value and need still to learn to connecting i’s and t’s, and dotting and crossing them, too?
If you are feeling that you have handwriting nostalgia, here’s a video about how to write in cursive:
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