Do you think schools should still teach handwriting?
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marianne goodwin's picture

Handwriting does not just teach a student how to form letters, it is an active exercise in concentration, hand-eye coordination, enhances small motor skills, and supports organizational skills, as well as giving the student a sense of pride and accomplishment. I know many ask why? We are a world of technology, but as an educator, I believe these are important attributes for the learner.

educator of the gifted's picture

I definitely agree... The youth of today are so tech savvy that many are lacking the small motor skills, and concentration needed to do more than the three or four letter words that they text daily!

Jacquelyn Gravely's picture

I couldn't agree more!

Linda Hamman's picture

Communication is a crucial life skill. Students who are unable to read cursive handwriting, or even sign their names, are at a disadvantage. Not all communication is done via technology.

Imme35's picture

I so agree with you. I teach ELL, and my students from Mexico can't read or write in cursive. This makes reading teachers' writing impossible. It is a definite disadvantage for them.

E. McBride's picture

I teach high school students and it is really difficult when I write information on the board in cursive and the students tell me that they do not know how to read it. They even go so far as to tell me that they print their name as a signature. This is not acceptable.

Michelle Bassett-Shea's picture

WOW, I teach high school as well... never had a student tell me they could not read it... sounds like bigger issues there then handwriting.

M. McGee's picture

I too have experienced this. I have to print everything. We have gotten away from the basics and now our kids are paying for it.

L Kent's picture

Brain science shows that handwriting activates the critical-thinking areas of the brain more than "point and click" or typing. Often students become embarrassed by their handwriting and therefore don't want to write at all. Not knowing how to form letters properly, hold a writing utensil, etc can make handwriting a painful, laborious task. Even with the prevalence of technology, handwriting is still an essential part of academic skills and development.

BAT's picture

Teacher Vision posted a calendar with facts for each day of the year. Monday was "Handwriting Day." I found a cursive handwriting template on line. My 8th grade students had to copy each letter 3 times. Many struggled and complained thoughout the assignment. The results were very sad.

Terry Thomas's picture

Besides all of the good points that have already been brought up, the AP tests are still completed by hand. Not that a test should drive the curriculum... or that an entire year should be focused on the single pursuit of handwriting (that's what I remember about 3rd grade)... but yes, some basic handwriting skills need to be taught.

Michelle Bassett-Shea's picture

I think students should learn cursive handwriting right away verses printing captial letters first, then printing small letters then moving to cursive writing. Just because this is the way we have always done it does not mean it is the best way. Is there brain research to support teaching kids first how to print in all capitals then to move to lower case? If not why do we do it??? Cursive writing is easier to master if one does not learn printing first.

Mrs. C's picture

As a first grade teacher, I can attest that it would be developmentally inappropriate for k/1 to work on cursive writing. The fine motor and eye-hand coordination needed isn't there for 5, 6 and 7 year olds. Preschoolers and disadvantaged/special needs pr k students need the simple, larger forms of capital letters. It is a very natural progression. The printing also supports reading development, as books are not printed in cursive. For research check out the Handwriting Without Tears website- it is the only research-based handwriting program out there that I have been able to find. (Just out of curiosity, are there any places/systems that start cursive in preschool/kindergarten? Just sounds bizarre!)

Mrs. Mac's picture

Montgomery County, TN, began using D'Nealian a few years ago as the primary handwriting starting in Kindergarten. This is an amazing change. My 8th grader wasn't taught anything but block letter, and can't even sign his name. Most of my middle school students have trouble with what I put on the board, in fact most who never learned handwriting are nearly impossible for me to read. The penmanship is very immature. Where as my first grader can read most things I write, even in script. The fluidity of D'Nealian allows the children to make a connection between typed and written word and allows for a more successful transition into adult written communication.

Shannon's picture

Should we break out the quill pen too? Writing calligraphy has its merits, but is it worth the instructional time spent doing it? I agree that all students should be taught manuscript writing to mastery, however, at this stage in the 21st century, we must embrace change,get off a dead horse and abandon cursive writing. Kids should be learning keyboarding skills in the place of cursive. Cursive writing is antequated and unnecessary. For those who argue...they need a signature...the kids can have one or two lessons on developing their own signature and master that rather quickly. Teachers who complain that their kids can't read cursive...stop writing in cursive. NO BOOKS ARE WRITTEN IN CURSIVE. Just one girl's opinion. I'm all in favor of manuscript legibility (doctors), but don't think it is instructionally sound to continue to teach cursive writing in school.

sisyphia's picture

Learning cursive writing can be useful for many dyslexic students who otherwise have trouble spelling. Kinesthetically, after some repetition, they can remember the movements of writing a particular word, even if other parts of their brain cannot recall the letters or what the word looks like. This is in much the same way as a pianist can remember how to play a piece of music.

Susan Nelson's picture

In the distant (or maybe not so distant) future, how will historians, archivists, and anthropologists study documents written prior to the 21st century?

Amy M's picture

My high school students must be able to hand-write on our state tests; I have several past students whose handwriting was judged "illegible" so they had to retake those tests. Not all of us have access to a computer all the time.

Susan B's picture

If students cannot produce cursive, they are unable to read it. ( I know this by years of teaching experience!). If they cannot read it, they will be unable to read many primary sources when researching not only for classes, but for many of the jobs that they may hold in the future! Now is not the time to stop teaching cursive.

Dianne M.'s picture

Handwriting is a tremendous part of writing skills. When a child struggles with handwriting, it also interferes with their ability to form well organized writing pieces. The focus should be on the piece of writing and the handwriting should be automatic.

Biba's picture

My students are in 6th grade and cannot write in cursive. They receive letters from their French pen pals in cursive and are unable to read them. What are they going to do someday when they have to sign their name to a contract?

Carol L.'s picture

Our students are taught to write in cursive at the end of second grade; I learned in the third. After their somewhat brief experience with cursive in the primary grades, it is, for the most part, abandoned at the intermediate level, not required, expected, or even used in practice situations. I, however, continue to practice cursive with my fifth graders because many of them tell me they have "forgotten" how to write in cursive. Recently, a colleague argued vehemently against the use of cursive, but upon entering her room one morning, lo and behold, she was writing the morning assignment on the board in cursive! Go figure! One of the things seared into my memory is the handwritten letter of a young Civil War soldier dying on the battlefield. It was not his last words that left me in awe, but the exquisite beauty of his cursive penmanship. It was in and of itself a work of art, one I certainly hope never dies out.

Nancy H's picture

Diane, you are correct about kids who struggle with handwriting. We all talk about reading fluency. There is also writing fluency. A student should be able to produce writing without thinking about how to make the letters. I do not understand all the complaints about teaching handwriting. It only takes a few minutes a day to teach a cursive letter. Review previous letters and add one a day. My 2nd graders love it. they beg me to do it every day. they are anxious to finish the whole alphabet so they can write anything they want. Capital letters can be modified or simplified without all the swirls. I print my capitals. Cursive is a thing of beauty - as Carol referred to the soldier's letter. thanks Carol! Many famous documents are in cursive. Writing in cursive is faster, and speed is important for taking notes. Speaking of notes, I still have a box of love notes from my first boyfriend. It's a shame girls today will not experience that. Shame on you teachers for printing when your students say they can't read it. I bet they will learn it rather quickly - and they should! Please reconsider your opposition to this skill.

Sandra L.'s picture

I teach third grade, and my students love to learn how to write in cursive. I definitely think cursive handwriting should still be taught.

Joanie's picture

We are having this discussion in our building. I vote strongly for teaching and using cursive- isn't it just like another 'font' for students to use? 2nd graders are excite to learn but in our school, teachers above 4th grade don't encourage the use of cursive.

Mrs. Mac's picture

My county began using D'Nealian just a few years ago (after my older son and most of my students had passed through) as the primary handwriting style beginning in Pre-K/Kindergarten. This has been an amazing change.

My 8th grade son wasn't taught anything but block letter, even in third and fourth grade when script used to be required. He can't even sign his name. Most of my middle school students have trouble with what I put on the board, in fact the work from most who never learned handwriting is nearly impossible for me to read. The penmanship is very immature.

Where as while my first graders penmanship isn't very strong yet, he can read most things I write, even in script. The fluidity of D'Nealian allows the children to make a connection between typed and written word and allows for a more successful transition into adult written communication.