Technology and handwriting


I read an article this morning talking about the current school of thought on teaching cursive writing in grade schools.

It seems there are two different schools of though on that issue.  One says, “Teach it”, and the other says, “It’s pointless”.

Having watched both of my kids struggle with cursive writing, I’m going to side with the “It’s pointless” group.  But not for why you might think.

Here’s why.

I can honestly say that I don’t use cursive writing for ANYTHING in my life, except for my signature.

That’s it.  One thing.

For everything else I print, and you want to know something? So does everyone else I know.  I’m not sure I know of a single person that regularly writes in cursive for everyday stuff.  We all print.

Why? Well, I’m sure there are various reasons, but for me, it’s a matter of it being easier to read, and not because my cursive looks like a drunken chicken walked on the page.

From childhood we are shown non-script writing.  It’s in our books, it’s on TV, it’s in our text books we use in school, and today..guess what, it’s on our computers. There are actually people studying how we are exposed to printed words, and you know what, it’s all block letters.

Nowhere, do we use cursive writing except in schools.

So how does this relate to technology?

To my way of thinking, in a day and age when kids are playing on their parents iPads and smart phones before they can write their names, wouldn’t it make far more sense to spend the time teaching kids how to do other, more useful things (hell, just about anything) rather than waste their time teaching them cursive writing.

For many kids, this is sheer torture, and causes them no end of anxiety, and for what?

My generation was really the last one that occasionally wrote things for school by hand.  Today it’s all typed.   Heck, there are teachers telling students to write short essays on their iPads and smart phones in class, and then email them to the professor before the end of class. For live tests that still require paper, isn’t printing good enough?

So teach typing instead of cursive writing.

Here’s a radical idea, teach basic computer programming.

Both are skills that would be far more useful than cursive and would engage the kids a lot more.  There are great typing programs out there, and several initiatives to start teaching programming in elementary schools.

To those that think we need to continue to teach cursive, I’d ask this one question.

Why?

Cursive writing is like Latin.  It’s a dead language/art form.  Let it die and be studied by calligraphers and typographers.

For the average person, it has no value.  There are other ways to develop precise motor control, focus and discipline.

Kids are evolving faster than our schools.  They are learning exponentially more before they even hit preschool than ever before.  They come to school knowing how to use computers, iPads, and smart phones before they know how to write their names.

Heck, they unconsciously know the basics of ballistics and trajectories from Angry Birds.

They are smart.

Let’s teach and encourage useful skills instead of outdated methods of writing for the sake of “it’s always been done that way.”

Let’s drop cursive.

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