Week 48: Cursive originally uploaded by Greg Williams
This morning I came across this article in Inside Higher Ed, a site I’ve been following since my days working at Century College long ago. While I no longer work in higher ed and as of the day before yesterday I no longer have any more schoolwork to do until The Rooster and The Koala bring it home, I just haven’t yet removed the feed from my soon to be dead RSS reader (RIP Google Reader). The topic of the article was on how college professors should object to schools no longer teaching cursive writing and why.
From the article:
Many public schools no longer teach cursive writing; 46 states no longer mandate that districts must teach cursive in their language arts core curriculum. This comes from the mistaken logic that our keyboard-happy society has made cursive a relic of the past that students no longer need. Numerous public schools now teach only printing, and some don’t even bother with lower and upper case – just block letters. Roman Catholic schools still demand cursive, and good for them. For the foreseeable future, kids who don’t have cursive will be at a competitive disadvantage. I’m surprised parents aren’t on the pitchfork-and-torch brigade over this, but I’d like to suggest that college professors should be (especially if they have kids).
The author’s reasoning comes down to a few major points:
- 1. Handwritten note-taking and essay testing is faster in cursive and the argument that typing is faster is negated by the Blue Book essays.
2. Technological failures.
3. Good listening skills are negated by using technology.
4. The claim that writing is MUCH faster than typing.
5. Technology is a classroom distraction.
As someone who has learned cursive, is a big tech person, and who can type well in excess of 100 WPM, I take great offense to this entire article. Not because I don’t agree with many of the author’s assertions in a vacuum but when looked at overall, it’s a bunch of hooey:
- 1. What’s the difference if writing now takes longer? Split the essay test up over two days. I had tests like that all the time in Undergrad History courses.
2. People lose pens, paper, etc all the time. Technology failure is not limited to devices that plug in.
3. Doodling, drooling over the opposite sex, sleeping, and simple daydreaming all do the same exact thing.
4. You can probably write faster than I can type but I have some big added benefits such as the writing being legible and it being easily transferrable and stored.
5. See #3.
When I was in school learning about the contents of cells, my father noted to me that when he was in school they learned of the nucleus and the cell well, that’s it. By the time I was in school there were like 30 different things we needed to memorize. This is just one example but it shows the amount of learning required of students in school. Do we really have time to waste with them learning an antiquated and basically useless handwriting scheme just because historians won’t be able to easily read the cursive of old in archives? Personally, as a previous student and a parent of soon-to-be students, I say let cursive die the death it’s meant to die–one with just as little dignity as I had with Mrs. Reade yelling at me for not tracking the dotted lines on her purple smeared mimeographed sheets.
What do you think about this one? Do you pine for cursive lessons in school and believes students of the future would feel the same way? Can you type faster than you can write especially over longer times? Is this really the death of society or just another bump in the road as we move on and leave relics of the past behind? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.