Tag Archives: How To Write In Cursive

Maybe The Handwriting Isn’t On The Wall After All

Our brain must understand that each possible iteration of, say, an “a” is the same, no matter how we see it written. Being able to decipher the messiness of each “a” may be more helpful in establishing that eventual representation than seeing the same result repeatedly.

The same research also notes that there could be a difference in the brains of young learners between those who only know how to print block letters (Hello! I’m mostly one of those. Long story.) and those who learn how to write in cursive.

In dysgraphia, a condition where the ability to write is impaired, sometimes after brain injury, the deficit can take on a curious form: In some people, cursive writing remains relatively unimpaired, while in others, printing does.

In alexia, or impaired reading ability, some individuals who are unable to process print can still read cursive, and vice versa — suggesting that the two writing modes activate separate brain networks and engage more cognitive resources than would be the case with a single approach.

That might not be all that much of a big deal, if it weren’t for the fact that cursive writing is disappearing as a subject being taught to the little dudes and dudettes in school. My youngest, Hyper Lad, really only had cursive for about a single year.

He had to learn the letters, try to put them together, and then was forced to write his spelling sentences in cursive each week for the rest of the year. And, really, that was it.

Now it’s years later and, because he didn’t get cursive reinforced in school and because his dad didn’t get a chance to really learn cursive his ownself, I now have to do the reading for him when it comes to cursive notes written by his oldest relatives. Annoying, but also, apparently, only the smallest of problems relating to not knowing cursive.

It turns out, the benefits of learning both handwriting and cursive will last through childhood and into adulthood. Most adults know how to type and consider it an efficient method for taking notes, certainly above using a messy handwriting. However, the very efficiency of typing could be working against adults trying to assimilate new information.

Two psychologists, Pam A. Mueller of Princeton and Daniel M. Oppenheimer of the University of California, Los Angeles, have reported that in both laboratory settings and real-world classrooms, students learn better when they take notes by hand than when they type on a keyboard. Contrary to earlier studies attributing the difference to the distracting effects of computers, the new research suggests that writing by hand allows the student to process a lecture’s contents and reframe it — a process of reflection and manipulation that can lead to better understanding and memory encoding.

All of which means . . . what?

I’m not going to say that you must emphasize handwriting in the young dudes and dudettes, but it’s looking like it might be a good idea.

Heck, even just having them handwrite the really important bits from their notes might offer a significant improvement in their ability to assimilate new information. Definitely something to think about as you sit down for your . . . erm. . . their homework come fall.

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Freaky Friday: Curve Ball

by Richard

My young dudes have a hard time reading. But they’re not alone. See, the problem they have with reading is when someone writes to them and uses cursive.

It turns out that, according to a recent New York Times article, young dudes and dudettes these days are losing the ability to read and write in cursive.

Who knew I was ahead of the curve?

Students nationwide are still taught cursive, but many school districts are spending far less time teaching it and handwriting in general than they were years ago, said Steve Graham, a professor of education at Vanderbilt University. Most schools start teaching cursive in third grade, Professor Graham said. In the past, most would continue the study until the fifth or sixth grades — and some to the eighth grade — but many districts now teach cursive only in third grade, with fewer lessons.

See, my problem was that I was living in England when I should have been in third grade and the schools there had already taught their students how to write in cursive, which meant I got very little instruction on something they had already covered. When I went back to America for fourth grade, they had already taught cursive there, so I got very little instruction on something they had already covered. Seeing a pattern here?

I eventually learned cursive — a little. My writing became rather idiosyncratic in that it was a combination of cursive and printing. Things got worse when I started working as a reporter as I had to write very, very quickly and I started using shortcuts that further deteriorated my writing legibility to others.

Anyway.

My young dudes, while they can puzzle their way laboriously through someone’s written cursive missive and can write in cursive with a lot of pauses to look up or ask how to write certain letters, are much more comfortable with printing. With the advent of and near-ubiquity of computer keyboards, the question becomes: Is learning cursive really necessary?

“Schools today, we say we’re preparing our kids for the 21st century,” said Jacqueline DeChiaro, the principal of Van Schaick Elementary School in Cohoes, N.Y., who is debating whether to cut cursive. “Is cursive really a 21st-century skill?”

With schools focused on preparing students for standardized tests, there is often not enough time to teach handwriting, educators said.

I think you probably will get more fine-motor skills in your hands if you’re practicing and learning cursive, but I’m not sure that’s really worth it. I have a feeling that, like watches are quickly disappearing in the younger generation that relies more and more on cell phones to tell the time, we’re seeing the slow disappearance of another relic of our past.

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