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TenEightyOne

Handwriting

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TenEightyOne

Let me give you a little background;

 

I was formerly a teacher in the UK at both Primary and Secondary level and, as such, had to enmesh the National Curriculum Literacy Strategy into all my lesson plans and deliveries. There's no doubt in my mind that high standards of literacy are crucial in the educational development of children.

 

Now I work in IT for a very large engineering company and I spend most of my time maintaining and devising systems that eliminate paper copy and which allow collaborative electronic work in project workshare locations around the globe. Literacy is no less important for users, it's just that they're encouraged to use IT interfaces to create, edit and transmit their work.

 

This weekend I spent several hours helping my 5-year-old daughter with her cursive handwriting homework. Cursive handwriting is what we used to call "Joined-Up Writing" and it's something that her school places a lot of store in. She pointed out to me that she can already type much more quickly than she can write (true), that neither her mother nor I write in such a formal style (true) and that she never ever sees cursive handwriting anywhere other than in her school (probably true). She's a smart cookie, I'm pleased to say, and I found it hard to answer her argument.

 

This got me to thinking... I already believe that we should teach children to operate in a modern age rather than the 3-Rs age of my own youth and I believe that we should teach children to use the IT facilities that are part of our everyday lives, but there's one question that I can't quite answer though;

 

Should we expend our limited educational resources on teaching formal handwriting to children or should we accept that customs have moved on?

Edited by TenEightyOne

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MikeWh
Let me give you a little background;

 

I was formerly a teacher in the UK at both Primary and Secondary level and, as such, had to enmesh the National Curriculum Literacy Strategy into all my lesson plans and deliveries. There's no doubt in my mind that high standards of literacy are crucial in the educational development of children.

 

Now I work in IT for a very large engineering company and I spend most of my time maintaining and devising systems that eliminate paper copy and which allow collaborative electronic work in project workshare locations around the globe. Literacy is no less important for users, it's just that they're encouraged to use IT interfaces to create, edit and transmit their work.

 

This weekend I spent several hours helping my 5-year-old daughter with her cursive handwriting homework. Cursive handwriting is what we used to call "Joined-Up Writing" and it's something that her school places a lot of store in. She pointed out to me that she can already type much more quickly than she can write (true), that neither her mother nor I write in such a formal style (true) and that she never ever sees cursive handwriting anywhere other than in her school (probably true). She's a smart cookie, I'm pleased to say, and I found it hard to answer her argument.

 

This got me to thinking... I already believe that we should teach children to operate in a modern age rather than the 3-Rs age of my own youth and I believe that we should teach children to use the IT facilities that are part of our everyday lives, but there's one question that I can't quite answer though;

 

Should we expend our limited educational resources on teaching formal handwriting to children or should we accept that customs have moved on?

Not that schools seem to care at GCSE Level, only if it's legible!

 

Honestly no, but I do wish it was less anal! When I was little I was shouted at for not being able to write joined up or 'neatly' as the teacher said - I used to reply to my teachers when I was 5/6 with "Block capitals are FAR clearer and easy to read than that squiggly mess" - but we had to earn our handwriting pens so I persevered and after that I wrote block capitals!

 

 

Now I'm at work and I only use block capitals in BLACK INK ONLY

 

Handwriting should be functional and clear, not stylish.

 

Much like radio speech, clarity is key.

user posted image

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Dingdongs

 

She's a smart cookie, I'm pleased to say, and I found it hard to answer her argument.

 

Very smart... reminds me of when I asked why I had to learn long division when my older cousin was allowed to do his 8th grade math homework with a calculator...

 

I think teaching kids cursive writing should end. It's a complete waste of time that can be spent elsewhere. There are a lot of archaic things we are teaching kids that they just do not need anymore. Handwriting class being one of them. I'd argue that we should have phased out cursive at least when the typewriter came into mass use.

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sivispacem

I've got to leave for work momentarily so I'll be brief.

 

I've never had particular good handwriting. In fact, it's nigh-on incomprehensible to anyone other than me. But it has never negatively affected my ability, either in formal education or in a working environment. Everything our clients see is typed and formatted for their consumption- notes are just that, scribbles, and these days I end up drawing sketches to represent things much more than I do write full sentences- when working, at least. I can think of a few jobs that probably require decent handwriting- like pretty much any job in education- but these are in the minority these days.

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John The Grudge

As far as I can tell most people can't even spell, let alone write.

 

-This isn't General Chat. Keep posts within guidelines please.-

Edited by sivispacem

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Chunkyman

Regular handwriting is an important skill because access to typing devices won't always be available. Say you have to write directions out on a map for someone, without knowing good handwriting you wouldn't be able to help them by writing all of the directions down for them. You also need to be able to sign your name on documents by hand.

 

Cursive needs to end. First and foremost, it is redundant with regular handwriting. Knowing cursive offers no real advantages in life, and wastes a students time by making them learn something completely useless, when that time could be spent better elsewhere. The only advantage of teaching cursive is that your signatures no longer look like they were written by a six year old.

 

Another problem with cursive is that it's way harder to read than regular handwriting. By having students learn how to write by hand going slowly and using distinct, easily recognizable letters, you increase the odds of readers understanding what has been wrote. I've had people leave me notes where I have absolutely no clue what they wrote.

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Doc Rikowski

Excuse me but cursive as a typeface is used on thousands of products, media and brands (Coca Cola logo anyone?).

Are you saying that we should stop teaching cursive and end up with a generation that can't read the Coca Cola logo among millions of other things?

We obviously still need to teach cursive handwriting.

Maybe dedicate less time to it and not focus too much on making pretty letters

(which was a waste of time in my case cause my handwriting sucks).

The idea of putting an end to cursive is just nonsense.

 

Also, how do you guys sign a document? In capital letters? whatsthat.gif

Edited by docrikowski

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Dingdongs
Excuse me but cursive as a typeface is used on thousands of products, media and brands (Coca Cola logo anyone?).

Are you saying that we should stop teaching cursive and end up with a generation that can't read the Coca Cola logo among millions of other things?

We obviously still need to teach cursive handwriting.

Maybe dedicate less time to it and not focus too much on making pretty letters

(which was a waste of time in my case cause my handwriting sucks).

The idea of putting an end to cursive is just nonsense.

 

Also, how do you guys sign a document? In capital letters? whatsthat.gif

All my credit card receipts are complete scribbles.. you can make out a D for the first letter of my first name but that's it. As for an official document, it's a mix of cursive and my own made up style of writing that looks formal but does not employ cursive letters other than the D.

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Doc Rikowski
Excuse me but cursive as a typeface is used on thousands of products, media and brands (Coca Cola logo anyone?).

Are you saying that we should stop teaching cursive and end up with a generation that can't read the Coca Cola logo among millions of other things?

We obviously still need to teach cursive handwriting.

Maybe dedicate less time to it and not focus too much on making pretty letters

(which was a waste of time in my case cause my handwriting sucks).

The idea of putting an end to cursive is just nonsense.

 

Also, how do you guys sign a document? In capital letters?  whatsthat.gif

All my credit card receipts are complete scribbles.. you can make out a D for the first letter of my first name but that's it. As for an official document, it's a mix of cursive and my own made up style of writing that looks formal but does not employ cursive letters other than the D.

And yet you are able to do those scribbles and that signature because you learned cursive at school and now you apply it as your own version.

But just imagine not knowing cursive at all. Your signature would look like the one of an illiterate.

By learning cursive you learn how to coordinate your brain, your eyes, your hand.

It's the very first gestural/intellectual skill that we learn at a young age.

It is incredibly important and it's a base for a number of future things you'll learn.

And, as I said earlier, cursive is used all over the world in thousands of media.

You do not teach that and you'll have a person with less understanding of the world and of the human culture and history.

 

They couldn't read the original document of the US Constitution, just to make an example...

 

Sorry, but it's nonsense.

A person that would not learn cursive would be just more ignorant.

That's quite a fact.

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MikeWh
Excuse me but cursive as a typeface is used on thousands of products, media and brands (Coca Cola logo anyone?).

Are you saying that we should stop teaching cursive and end up with a generation that can't read the Coca Cola logo among millions of other things?

We obviously still need to teach cursive handwriting.

Maybe dedicate less time to it and not focus too much on making pretty letters

(which was a waste of time in my case cause my handwriting sucks).

The idea of putting an end to cursive is just nonsense.

 

Also, how do you guys sign a document? In capital letters? whatsthat.gif

Just because it's cursive doesn't mean you need to learn to write it to read it though does it? I could read long before I could write legibly.

 

Cursive is dead and useless.

 

My signature is a drawing, close to capital letters but not quite - joined up writing/cursive it isn't.

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Abel.

An interesting point.

 

I think we're along way away from typing/computer-based writing completely superseding hand-writing. For example, pure mathematics is often more easily done by hand (with the obvious exclusion of numerical computation), and writing notes in lectures is often more convenient than typing. However, I do think that teaching cursive handwriting is a waste of time. I was taught to write cursively during my primary school education and my cursive handwriting is absolute hell on the eyes. In order for my writing to be read, I have adopted writing in capital letters. It's much easier to read that way.

 

Printing is not only clearer than cursive script, but also requires a lot less time to learn. It very much unsettles me that children in primary schools spend a lot of time learning handwriting when national statistics paint a scathing picture of poor literacy and numeracy. Many GCSE students fail foundation level examinations at GCSE often due to poor prior knowledge of rudimentary concepts such as ratio, measure, elementary algebra and the arithmetical operations. For this reason I maintain that primary school education is very important, and wasting time on niceties such as "proper" handwriting is frankly a waste if time.

 

To sum up--printed handwriting is easier to read and more easily written. Furthermore, time spent learning cursive handwriting could be better spent.

 

Docrikowski: It's a question of pragmatism. I'm not saying that children should write solely in block capitals, but that they learn to print their writing so that they can write easily, quickly and efficiently, rather than waste time on a now-redundant formality.

 

Irviding: You probably learned it because it's basically the same process as the polynomial division you learned in Algebra II much later on. However, this underlies another issue with education systems, that of understanding. Division is the process of successive subtraction, and this definition is not conveyed by learning the algorithm of long division.

Edited by elanman

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Doc Rikowski

I said it earlier, not too much time should be dedicated to teach handwriting in cursive.

In that I agree with what has been said by others.

But I completely disagree on stopping the teaching of it.

That's just pure nonsense.

Whenever you stop teaching something you are just creating more ignorant and culturally poorer individuals. Fact.

 

@ Mike: obviously it is easier to learn to read cursive if you also learn to write it. That's just basic teaching and common sense.

As for cursive being dead and useless, well, reality just contradicts what you say so I won't even bother to reply to that.

 

@ elanman: I understand being a question of pragmatism but I don't see how teaching cursive can be a waste of time.

Not focusing too much on teaching it does make sense but eliminating the whole thing, as Mike said, is just absurd.

Children can easily learn how to write and how to type at the same time.

We are not talking about rocket science. I learned cursive and print characters at school at the same time.

Once I started to type (on a typewriter back in the 80s) it wasn't difficult at all since I knew the alphabet and the characters.

 

Another reason why cursive is taught is because writing in cursive is much faster than writing in capital letters.

Try it and time it. wink.gif

 

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Dingdongs

 

Another reason why cursive is taught is because writing in cursive is much faster than writing in capital letters.

 

Or we can use lower case regular letters! smile.gif

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Saggy

I was taught that the point of cursive was to allow the author to write faster, since they didn't have to lift up their pen or pencil between each letter. That's why were also taught only to cross T's and dot I's after we had wrote the entire word. However when you think about the idea of needing to write faster, than the modern era of technology does really seem to obsolete the need to write in cursive to be more speedy.

 

I've often wondered what the point of "contractions" are. Like in the beginning of that sentence, instead of "I have" I said "I've". Is this also to shorten up the time that an author has to use to write, or is it used to reflect the way people speak sometimes. Does one imitate the other? In either case, people still rely on using contractions and writing the apostrophe, even though in most cases people would realize that the word is indeed a contraction without the help of an apostrophe.

 

I guess the reason it's important that we still teach it now though, is that without learning to read that type of cursive writing, there are a lot of texts that might be indecipherable to a lot of people come later years. If we stopped teaching cursive, then basically all of what has been written in that type of writing is going to be practically a foreign language to us. Most of it has probably been transcribed into type by that point, but the whole point of keeping these documents around in their original form is in case something happens to the copies. What's the point of keeping them around if no one is going to be able to read them?

 

There's a lot of things in life that are seemingly impractical, useless knowledge, but it's not really a good idea to forget about them still. What abut Roman numerals for example? One could contend that the only thing you need to know Roman numerals for is read fancy watch faces. Then hey, if you think of that, why even teach kids to read analog clocks anymore?

 

I personally never write in cursive any more though, my handwriting is practically indecipherable in cursive, but I did always notice that I could write a lot more, and a lot more quickly in cursive than when printing. I hate writing by hand in general though, and I sometimes wonder if writing by hand at all will become obsolete.

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Finn 7 five 11

We definitely do still need handwriting, we are still pretty far from being all digital, perhaps one day in the future we will be but even then simply forgetting how to write doesn't seem right, and like Irviding said people probably thought Roman Numerals were pointless but they are still used from time to time. Learning to write in both cursive and regular writing is important in being able to read it, i was always pretty bad at cursive and normal writing, but my writing has always been very legible even if it is not neat. Interestingly with by bad cursive I have trouble sometimes reading it and understanding it as well, my Chinese friend who moved here when he was 11 can barely read old style cursive at all/is much worse than I.

 

I do hope handwriting does not become obsolete though, I found in all my years at school and now that writing out something by hand makes me remember it far better than if I type it up on the computer.

 

That being said i do think they need to cut-down on the amount of time spent learning handwriting, once you get to a certain point it doesn't really improve anyway, you develop a style and it pretty much stays like that and slowly improves itself. I think they should make learning to write more useful, integrate it more with learning to spell and numeracy, make those latter learning points the primary focus, and practice them by writing, the writing will improve naturally and more focus is spent on the more important things.

 

EDIT: Just a little sidenote: Almost anyone can learn to spell, i mean MIKON8ERISBACK is a good example, can spell well, but he's an absolute dumbass, i'm not making an attack, that was just a good example I happen to have.

Edited by finn4life

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Icarus

I'm probably one of the few people in my age group that still uses cursive (or handwriting - I use the terms interchangeably, but reading some of the responses here, it seems like there's a difference between cursive and handwriting, whereas I've taken them to mean the same thing) on a day-to-day basis when I write things by hand. Whenever I graded labs or homework assignments, I used to write all my comments in cursive, until I was told by a student that she had never learned cursive writing in school and hence, couldn't read it (which was likely in combination with the fact that my handwriting is atrocious). After that, I started going to printing, which I never cared for, because with cursive, it was always much faster, whereas printing was slower. Granted, you could make your printing a lot faster, but you sacrificed legibility (at least in my case).

 

I'm only 24, but I remember we learned cursive in first grade and it was required to use cursive up until sixth grade, at which point, you were free to use printing if you felt like it. At the moment, I still find cursive to be useful, because if you have to read something that has been handwritten by a person who is much older (i.e. a senior), chances are, it will be written in cursive. While this isn't as commonplace as it was ten or twenty years ago, it is still around, since quite a few older people haven't taken to computers yet, so I wouldn't say cursive writing is completely useless, but it is certainly being phased out slowly.

 

For students entering grade school, I think it should be taught, but it shouldn't be given the emphasis it was back when I learned it, since access to computers wasn't near what it is today. I think students should learn about using computers at a young age. However, I also believe that students should be taught the value of a dictionary and thesaurus, so as not to be dependent on spell check, because if you have students writing something by hand without the benefit of spell check, you'll see the results aren't always the greatest. As someone who TA'ed for two years, it was quite evident that spell check took its toll on some people. It was also horrible when people used text speak in lab reports, but that's a whole different issue that needs to be addressed.

 

So yeah, cursive still has value and should still be taught, but with less emphasis than it was 20 years ago.

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Rown

I was introduced to cursive in 3rd grade, and while I feel I can read it well enough, I've forgotten some of the proper ways to go about writing it and only use it for my signature. I think it should survive as a kind of english-letter calligraphy. Maybe the sort of thing you teach in an optional summer school classes. It probably wouldn't hurt to have students exposed to it for reading purposes, but learning to write in cursive isn't all that important in my mind.

 

Rown rampage_ani.gif

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sivispacem

Given the mixed feelings on cursive handwriting, and the number of comments talking about being able to take notations "fast", I'd be interested to hear some people's thoughts on shorthand. I learned to write Teeline a few years ago and use it when out on site, at client meetings ect to make notes, because it's incredibly fast and allows you to communicate whilst still taking down information- something you can't really do whilst hiding behind a laptop. In fact, I think that Teeline shorthand should be taught alongside typical writing styles at a much younger age as for non-presentational writing (lets be honest, the vast majority of writing adults do is non-presentational) it's vastly superior to traditional handwriting styles.

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Icarus

I remember my mother telling me when she was in high school, she learned shorthand and said it was quite useful.

 

Looking at Wikipedia, it seems to have its practical advantages, but it looks like a bitch to learn (then again, maybe that's just me thinking that). I can understand why someone would want to learn it (if their job required taking a lot of notes by hand), but apart from that, I can't see people being too interested in it.

 

Then again, I guess it wouldn't hurt to learn it on the side. It's not like knowledge of shorthand is a bad thing.

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TenEightyOne

Some really interesting replies... I hadn't realised that the question would polarise so much!

 

I have to say that after considering the opinions in this thread I'm slightly swayed; maybe cursive is a foundation for intellectualism in a way that I hadn't recognised... but I'm still unsure about the proportion of time given over to it.

 

Signatures, well, I think that for most people it's just a stylised scribble - at least mine is biggrin.gif

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Icarus

 

Signatures, well, I think that for most people it's just a stylised scribble - at least mine is biggrin.gif

Mine is. A lot of the letters in my name are ones that involve loops, so if you see my signature, you can make out the 'S' that starts my name, but then it's just a series of different sized loops.

 

As with cursive, the main reason I feel it was important for my generation to learn growing up was that was when computers really started to take off and it was a few years before having a home computer was the norm. Before that, a lot of things that you had to read (besides books) were handwritten and most of my teachers growing up were on the verge of retirement, so they wrote strictly in cursive.

 

Nowadays, with computers being the staple of our writing technology, the need for learning cursive is not in the demand it was 20 years ago. It still has its place, but computers are helping to diminish its relevance. I do believe, as I mentioned in my previous post and others have mentioned, that learning about typing on a computer at an early age would be the way to go. I also believe, once typing becomes second nature, students should have to learn how to properly format their work as soon as possible. I've seen work submitted by students in their first and second year of university that had horrendous formatting, so I think learning that skill at a young age would go a really long way.

 

I was looking about on Wiki earlier and apparently, there's two major styles of cursive: Zaner-Bloser and D'Nealian. From looking at the Zaner-Bloser style, that's what I learned growing up (because of the way they wrote the upper-case 'F' in cursive - I never liked that, and the only person I ever saw using it that way was my great-grandmother), but apparently D'Nealian is becoming the standard now. Even though I learned Zaner-Bloser in my school years, I've taken a lot of liberties with some of the letters since then. For example, I don't write the upper-case 'F' or the upper-case 'T' like they do, and my upper-case Q looks like the printed version; my cursive version looked too much like the number two.

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feliciano2040
Regular handwriting is an important skill because access to typing devices won't always be available. Say you have to write directions out on a map for someone, without knowing good handwriting you wouldn't be able to help them by writing all of the directions down for them. You also need to be able to sign your name on documents by hand.

While I certainly agree with you, I still admit to myself that most of these issues will be solved by hand-held devices, if someone needs directions, you can transfer a google-map file, if you need to sign documents, you can do so with a software pen, digitalization of all information is inevitable, it's precisely what defines the era we live in for crying out loud.

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Saggy
Given the mixed feelings on cursive handwriting, and the number of comments talking about being able to take notations "fast", I'd be interested to hear some people's thoughts on shorthand. I learned to write Teeline a few years ago and use it when out on site, at client meetings ect to make notes, because it's incredibly fast and allows you to communicate whilst still taking down information- something you can't really do whilst hiding behind a laptop. In fact, I think that Teeline shorthand should be taught alongside typical writing styles at a much younger age as for non-presentational writing (lets be honest, the vast majority of writing adults do is non-presentational) it's vastly superior to traditional handwriting styles.

Yeah, I could have used short-hand during my school days. It was always really frustrating trying to take notes on a lesson, and by the time you've written down the first half the sentence they've already moved on to the second or third point.

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