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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Death of Cursive…

The first assignment after the winter break was a rainy half day in a 5th grade class. The lesson plan had a typical work load including a practice spelling test.

Plan instruction: “After the test, have them self correct with handout and practice writing each word 5x.”

Easy peasy lemon squeezy…until the end of the test when I handed out the spelling work sheet (see below) for self correction purposes.

The first hands started to appear: “Do we have to write the words five times in cursive?”

Since this is a spelling test and the emphasis should be correct spelling over the method; I allowed those who wanted, to “print” instead of “writing” the words to do so.

That satisfied most but not all; “But, I can’t read cursive!” was the next complaint.

Sure enough, there was a note on the lesson plan that stated I might have to “print” the spelling words on the whiteboard for those who can’t read cursive. Amazingly, I was not surprised that today’s 5th graders can’t write cursive longhand. I was surprised that I expected them to be able to read it! Why would I expect them to read longhand when they don’t write?

Personally, my penmanship is so bad it’s illegible. Other than my signature, I almost never write cursive because I never had to use it. The introduction of the typewriter and subsequently the computer keyboard had pretty much made “fancy writing” obsolete by the time I left school. Fortunately for me, a 30 year career in software development never once required writing documentation longhand.

While there are some who might be nostalgic about loss of beautiful penmanship, I can’t see the point other than as artistic exercise. Try Googling “death of cursive” and you can see the handwriting on the wall, so to speak.

(I was going to post this using a cursive font, but the Blogger editor doesn't provide one!)


Tiffany said...

Aw, this kind of makes me sad. I remember learning cursive in third and fourth grade! Out with the old, I guess...

Surfie said...

I remember having to learn cursive early in school. But I never use it anymore other than for my signature. I took the PRAXIS exams in April, and there was a paragraph that we had to copy on our test papers, and it had to be written in cursive. I think that was the hardest part of the exam for most of the people in the room! It was horrible. I could barely get my hand to write it and it looked atrocious. :)

Sarah said...

As a fellow substitute teacher, I really REALLY like your blog!

KauaiMark said...

Thanks for the compliment, Sarah

Unknown said...

Typically (at least in CA) cursive is taught in the 3rd grade and students are required to write in cursive for the next 2 or 3 years. My poor son, who is in 9th grade, who was instructed as all the other students were, absolutely cannot write neatly in cursive. His cursive is really bad and lucky for him, he hasn't had to use it. He's athletic, coordinated, but just can't do it! I haven't read up on the death of cursive, but I do wonder how important it is now.