Wednesday, January 11, 2006
With emphasis on computers, schools are writing off cursive
Today, written communication is increasingly being replaced by computer messages. And, while adding computer proficiency requirements, school districts across Texas and the nation are de-emphasizing cursive writing in elementary school training. In higher grades, teachers are seeing less work done in cursive and more in block lettering or on computer printouts.
Furthermore, some teachers say that with the pressure to help students pass high-stakes achievement tests, they don't have time or classroom resources to ensure that students master all aspects of handwriting.
Traditional penmanship, like calligraphy before it, is fast becoming a lost art.
Some teachers think the marginalization of cursive writing is just as it should be — class time, they argue, is better used on other things.
"I don't feel like it's a great loss," Detrich said. "I feel like the most important things to teach these days are problem-solving, logical reasoning, critical thinking — and that doesn't have anything to do with cursive writing.
"My son, who is 15 and a freshman at Austin High, spent his entire third-grade year, and had a year of specific instruction, in cursive and has never used it since."
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This one is a hard one to decide on. For instance, I read a lot of original letters and communications from the Civil War era. They are awfully hard to decypher because each individual's handwriting is so darn distinctive. It gets to where I just HATE cursive handwriting! It is common in transcripting civil war diaries and letters that you end up with dozens of words that you just cannot identify. This is very frustrating and it is sure that some history is lost because of this.
But, with typewritten letters this is not a problem. Nothing is lost for the most part. Everything is perfectly legible.
But, here is the problem that i might perceive relying solely on electronic communications. Letters can be saved. They can be put in a box and saved for 300 years, even longer if properly cared for. They can be opened up and read long after they have been written and sent.
Can we do the same with electronic files? Will there BE a device that can read a floppy dics, Zip disc, a CD or DVD 300 years from now? Will there be a program that can understand the code by which those letters were written 300 years from now on those "ancient" storage devices?
I contend that, unless someone takes the time to continually update, re-save and store on the newest media, their missives and written work, those items will be forever lost to future researchers. Until computers get to the point (if they ever do) where files can ALWAYS be read regardless of how they were created, we will see an entire generation of information lost to future researchers, biographers and historians.
So, cursive may be a pain in the butt to read, but it might just end up a more permanent record, those squiggles on paper, than electronically saved writing.
Interesting dilemma, eh?