Our nation’s educators have found yet another way to upset parents and grandparents these days. In their infinite wisdom, many schools are no longer teaching the art of cursive penmanship to our youth. Most schools are making demands on parents to supply their children with tablets in lieu of paper and pencils. Okay, I’m with it. Kids are growing up in a fast digital age and need to be in the know as quick as lightening. Why go to the library when you can call up the answers in Wiki or Google? That’s a great resource to have, no question about it. One thing is good; we are all doing a heck of a lot more reading than a few generations back. Once upon a time, it was feared young people were losing reading skills by not picking up books. It was even said, that educators hoped kids would at least read comic books. Whatever, read, read, read was their motto then. What children are reading on these devices is another blog.
Today, nobody wants to write, write, write. Why should anyone with a computer hand write anything—printing or cursive? I even found it old fashioned that I had to fill out a form the other day and fax it back.
I believe cursive handwriting is a) beautiful when executed professionally, and b) much faster than block lettering. We still have calligraphic fonts that demonstrate its beauty and used notably for formal occasions, such as wedding invitations. My question to educators is; if you don’t know how to write in cursive, how will you be able to read it yourself?
Speaking to a twenty-something colleague of mine the other day, she said she would probably never use cursive writing any more. Sad. I guess it will have to be left for the older generations to show off their penmanship skills and it’ll be our new code so none of the younger gens will know what we’re writing about!
I envy the folks who know short-hand. My mother remembers how to write in shorthand since her high school days when she was taught how to do it. Boy, that could really come in handy at meetings when I don’t have access to a computer and most of us still hand write notes where I work. I think there still is a stigma about being the high-tech geek at the meeting with your tablet in hand. So, my “short hand” is actually long hand writing very fast.
There is a cognitive skill involved in handwriting – whether print or cursive and I believe it coincides with drawing. Most students who take a class in drawing, whether artistic or not, tend to do better in their other classes as well.
Young Rembrandts, an after school drawing program for grade schoolers, explains: “Drawing is the fundamental skill of the visual arts that can – and should – be learned by all children. Young Rembrandts® teaches drawing while developing visual learning skills that give children ages 3½ to 12 an academic advantage in the classroom.”
I not only believe it this philosophy, but I was a Young Rembrandt’s teacher myself several years ago. I watched children pick up their pencils and didn’t even have a clue how to hold them! The grades I taught were from preschool to 5th grade. Therefore, I employed a strict “pencil check” at the beginning of each of my sessions – even for the older kids. Let me tell you that if I didn’t, one of the children would be sure to remind me, “Miss Kathy, you forgot about pencil check!” They remember.
Whether or not cursive handwriting is linked to drawing skills, I don’t know, but I feel that the more you take away these skills from children, the less and less creative they will become. Oh there’s a ton of brilliant, talented graphic designers and artists online today. But they probably were taught how to write and draw while in grade school. Many graphic designers today still use a pencil to sketch out ideas in their heads on paper first and then employ computer graphics later.
I think children want to draw naturally. They learn to color with crayons early in life, and move on to pencils and markers. I am convinced in my experience with children that these skills are quintessential to learning and helps build confidence.
What are your thoughts?