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Back to January Ed Reporter

Education Reporter
NUMBER 288 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS JANUARY 2010

Will Cursive Writing Disappear?
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When West Virginia parent Kelli Davis saw her eighth-grade daughter's childlike signature on a form the child had brought home from school, she was dismayed. "I just assumed she knew how to do it, but I have a piece of paper with her signature on it and it looks like a little kid's signature," said Davis. The student explained to her mother that she hadn't been required to write anything in cursive in years, which led Davis to call the school.

Jane Roberts, assistant superintendent of elementary education for the largest school system in West Virginia, told Davis that cursive is still taught in Kanawha County schools, but only in the 3rd grade. Hours formerly spent practicing the loops and curves of cursive writing in what used to be called "penmanship" classes have given way to developing technology skills perceived more necessary for the 21st century.

Students are doing more and more of their work on computers in schools, including writing. Beginning in 2011, 8th and 11th graders will compose the writing test portion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress on a computer, with 4th graders following suit by 2019.

Handwriting is increasingly something people only do to jot notes for themselves, said Katie Van Sluys, president of the Whole Language Umbrella. She suggested that students accustomed to using text messages, e-mail and word processors don't see the value of spending hours practicing cursive writing.

Cheryl Jeffers, a professor at Marshall University, fears that if cursive writing is lost to new generations, it will be harder for them to decipher historic records, and they will have lost "a gift." Others point out that most schoolwork, from taking notes to writing essays, is still done by hand. (Associated Press, 9-19-09)


 
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