Archive for Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Survey shows cursive writing still taught in most Kansas school districts

November 14, 2012


— The age of computers hasn’t yet made handwriting obsolete. But many state school officials are still worried that the traditional loops and slants of cursive penmanship could become a lost art.

According to a survey released Wednesday by the Kansas State Department of Education, 90 percent of state school districts said they are still teaching cursive writing in elementary school. Of those, most begin teaching it in third grade. And in schools where it’s taught, teachers typically spend anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour a day working on cursive script.

But there were indications in the survey that handwriting skills are losing importance. Nearly 23 percent of districts responding said they do not consider teaching handwriting to be a high priority, and about 6 percent said they anticipate eventually decreasing the amount of class time they spend working on it.

State board member Janet Waugh, of Kansas City, raised the issue about cursive instruction last month. She said she had been contacted by parents and constituents who were concerned that many young people today either can’t write in cursive or can’t read material written in it.

“I started asking people within school systems,” Waugh said. “Cursive is losing priority because of technology.”

Board member Carolyn Campbell, of Topeka, said she noticed during the recent election campaign that cursive seems to be alien to many young people. During one day of campaigning, she tried to help a young person register for the first time.

“His signature was pathetic,” she said. “I asked him if he was going to be a lawyer or a doctor, because they’re known for having terrible handwriting. The mama in me wanted to hand it back to him and tell him to do it over. From his signature, you couldn’t begin to tell what his name was.”

In Lawrence, handwriting is still a high priority in local elementary school curriculum, said Adam Holden, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning in the Lawrence school district. It’s generally taught in grades K-4, with instruction in cursive writing usually beginning in third grade and lasting 12 to 18 months. Lawrence uses a commercial writing curriculum product called Handwriting Without Tears, Holden said.

Waugh said she thinks it’s still important to teach handwriting because there are times when people need to jot down notes or messages to someone else. But board member Sue Storm, of Overland Park, was more pessimistic.

“In the future, they’ll probably use email,” she said.

Waugh replied: “I still feel it needs to be taught. There are times when you want to leave someone a note, or even write a check, although I guess checks may be going by the wayside too.”

There also are concerns that the shift to the new Common Core State Standards in English language arts will further endanger cursive writing, because it’s not included as part of those standards. But the Common Core standards do allow states to add up to 15 percent in additional standards for both English language arts and math.

Holden said the Lawrence school district will wait to see whether the State Board of Education decides to add cursive instruction to the state version of Common Core before deciding how much emphasis it will get in the future.

“I have no doubt whatsoever we’ll continue to use a formal writing program, and cursive is just part of that,” he said.


jj14 4 years, 8 months ago

"In the future, they'll probably use email," she said. LOL - kids don't use email anymore...they text and social media.

kuguardgrl13 4 years, 8 months ago

It's true. The only people I email are my parents and professors. Everything else is text or Facebook. Occasionally Twitter.

Ron Holzwarth 4 years, 8 months ago

As a nation, we're becoming more and more illiterate and uneducated, that's all there is to it.

On the bright side, it requires very little education and skill to say, "Would you like fries with that?"

mae 4 years, 8 months ago

but wwjd ona text whilst driving?

Laura Wilson 4 years, 8 months ago

You're still going to have to know how to sign your name! And, for those going into higher education, the ability to read cursive is still going to be needed for viewing original documents. Even though most are scanned these days and available digitally, they're still in cursive if they're diaries or hand written letters.

Over the years, due to use of the computer, my cursive has become pretty bad. I've dropped a whole letter from my last name and my writing style is a mash of cursive and print, but I can write if I have to and I can certainly read cursive, from very formal old documents to my boss' scrawl.

fu7il3 4 years, 8 months ago

Then teach it the way we currently teach Latin and other dead forms of writing. Cursive is rarely used by anyone, and signatures are rarely actual cursive writing. It is a waste of time, and if they teach it the way they did when I was a kid, they spend a lot of classroom hours trying to teach neat handwriting that could better be spent actually learning something.

koman 4 years, 8 months ago

...and the state board can add changing a wagon wheel and how to tune an AM radio to the curriculum too! Can kansas be any more backward?

bevy 4 years, 8 months ago

Your comparison is ridiculous. There are many reasons students need to learn to write, not the least of which is that their signatures will be required on legal documents. In the future all such things may be replaced by retinal scans, but until they are, this is a skill that needs to be taught.

Betty Bartholomew 4 years, 8 months ago

"'His signature was pathetic,' she said. “I asked him if he was going to be a lawyer or a doctor, because they’re known for having terrible handwriting. The mama in me wanted to hand it back to him and tell him to do it over. From his signature, you couldn’t begin to tell what his name was.'"

What a ridiculous statement. I can write in cursive and my signature is still an illegible scrawl aside from the first letter. I would even hazard to say that most signatures that are illegible scrawls come about because of being taught cursive, and trying to make it as distinctive as possible.

I said it in response to the original article the other day: There is handwriting, and there is cursive handwriting. I'd rather people have legible printing than illegible cursive.

fu7il3 4 years, 8 months ago

I don't see why people keep thinking cursive is synomous with handwriting. People can print in handwriting, and that is mostly what they do. Cursive was designed in order to handwrite quickly, which is a skill very few people need anymore. The time would be better spent studying Math, Science, English, or a dozen other things the students will actually use. I haven't used cursive since the day I had my last cursive lesson in elementary school. I work in a field where I see a lot of handwriting, and 99 percent of it is not cursive.

It served its purpose once upon a time, but there is no point anymore. Let it die.

Bike_lover 4 years, 8 months ago

Cursive develops connections between the brain, hands and the letters. It's got benefits beyond just signing your name. It helps people flow words into ideas. It reinforces phonic connections inside of words and helps kids read better. It's repetitive and manual, the things that fancy educators are always trying to eliminate. No matter if it's worked for years.

I'm sure it's one of those things that poor quality schools will drop in favor of automation that some coporation will profit from providing. Better schools will continue to teach it. People will continue to be surprised when better schools continue to churn out better thinkers and poor quality schools churn out kids who can't put coherent sentences together.

Peter Hancock 4 years, 8 months ago

There's a really good article in the National Association of State Boards of Education publication "Policy Update." It's called "The Handwriting Debate," which came out in September:

It goes through the general pros and cons about spending class time on handwriting. Also cites a number of research papers linking handwriting to cognitive and motor skills development; literacy; brain development; memory and other factors.

Tracy Rogers 4 years, 8 months ago

If it's not part of the assessments it's not getting much teaching time. That's all schools are focused on anymore is being able to have a kid pass a test.....period. And in my opinion that's extremely sad. Schools are about so much more than taking tests, but that's what they've been forced to become.

kuguardgrl13 4 years, 8 months ago

I learned cursive as an elementary school student back in the late 90s/early 2000s. As a current college students, I have no regrets about the three years spent rigorously practicing cursive and good handwriting. My printing is terrible, but my cursive is decent. I have the skills to sign my name and fill out checks for my bills. My parents have taught me to be distrusting of epay. I can also write to my grandparents and give them home that humanity is not entirely lost. I don't regret having to learn cursive, and I certainly hope it remains in the curriculum. Not teaching handwriting will only ensure that the past few centuries will go the way of Rome.

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