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The death of cursive writing

11:13 AM, Aug 11, 2011   |    comments
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CLEVELAND --  Whether it's on the computer or on your phone, these days it seems we type just about everything.

The days of clicking the keyboard have taken over the days of painstakingly perfect cursive handwriting.

"I just think it's a more personal way to convey thoughts to others," said retired Madison Elementary School Teacher Elaine Mejac.

When students came into her fifth-grade classroom, they already knew the strokes. They were at the stage of giving their cursive writing a personal touch. Mejac admits handing back a few sloppy papers.

When she learned cursive, it was an art of sorts. Now it appears that art, and the emphasis, is slowly dying.

The Ohio Board of Education has adopted the Common Core State Standards that "no longer require the teaching of cursive writing, but do emphasize the development of keyboards skills beginning in third grade."

It will allow local districts to make their own decisions when it comes to this style of writing.

Here is more on what the curriculum says:

"The new Common Core State Standards, adopted by our State Board of Education no longer require the teaching of cursive writing, but do emphasize the development of keyboarding skills beginning in third grade. Schools are not required to use the CCSS until the 2013-2014 school year, though many have begun to incorporate them early.

Check with the district to find out what their policy will be about the instruction of keyboarding for this coming academic year. Our policy is to encourage the practical aspects in the recognition and writing of cursive - but not in the way it has been instructed in the past. We do not expect nor wish for districts to spend weeks of practice per letter. Rather we hope classroom teachers will encourage students to learn their signature and focus on other letters within the contexts of what they are doing in the classroom - for example, when reading primary source documents like the Gettysburg address etc. "

Mejac isn't so sure it's a class that should go away. "Ideas come and go in education, after being an educator for 30 years you know that,  but this is something that I think, just like good manners, they should never go out of style."

Avon Lake City Schools Superintendent Robert Scott says that, in the past, handwriting was a stand-alone subject. He says that "the delivery and focus have changed dramatically over the last several years." 

He says "legibility is focused on, rather than the "perfect letter shape."

In this time of test scores that need to be met, budgets being squeezed and technology taking over the days of practicing each stroke over and over have gone the way of the dinosaur.

Berea High School Guidance Counselor Susan Kelly says good penmanship, which includes cursive writing, is still important.

"Businesses, some colleges look for a writing sample," Kelly said, "Handwriting is still looked at there are still things that are handwritten and and I think employers, college, the whole gamut are still looking at it."

Kelly is left-handed. She remembers being forced to learn cursive with her right hand and teachers even being confused as to which way her paper should be slanted.

"I think printing can get kind of sloppy," she said, "I think that with so much of the texting and use of the computer where it is printing we abbreviate we kind of cut things off."

To folks like Mejac, it's a discipline and a chance to show a student that practice can make perfect.

"It's something that will improve with time and when someone says to a child 'boy you know your writing has really improved, you really have beautiful writing,' you know the child knows right then and there that is not an empty compliment they can see for themselves I started out with the writing looking one way and now look at where I've come! So I think it is a sense of pride for them."

While the computer might be the very thing helping cursive to meet it's demise parents can teach children the slants and loops that come along with the writing style with the aid of  the computer.

A simple "YouTube" search brings up a number of videos that can help. There are also a number of smartphone applications that can teach this technique through the help of technology.  Just search "cursive."

WKYC-TV

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