Sunday, January 13, 2013

Daily Assignment #126: Handwriting

Recently, there was an article in "The Boston Globe," titled,  "Mom, what is handwriting?" by Eugenia Williamson.  Williamson interviewed British novelist, Philip Hensher, author of "The Missing Ink:  The Lost Art of Handwriting".  After reading this article, and several others on handwriting in schools, I became saddened by the fact that handwriting, particularly cursive, is no longer part of the required instruction in some schools.  Handwriting is being left up to the teacher's discretion.   Needless to say, if something needs to go to make room for content for high stake testing it will be the 20 minute handwriting lesson.

Cursive, for my 2nd grade students, was a much anticipated skill.  They felt so grown-up to be able to write in cursive.  I would say, "Today, we are going to write the letter "t" and then you will be able to write..."  They would wiggle in their seats, sit up straight, pencils ready to go.  It was magical.  The last 2 lessons would always focus on students writing their first names in cursive.  How awesome is that!!!

You can well imagine my chagrin over this paradigm shift, even though I have been well aware of its impending arrival.  Do I think printing and cursive should continue to be taught? Yes.  There will come a day when we won't need to handwrite anything.  Until that day, handwriting needs to be taught.

Is handwriting an art form?  Maybe, but it shouldn't be completely considered outdated yet.  There are times when technology is not accessible.  Have you ever been in doctor's office and had to fill out a form, or the DMV, or a bank, the list goes on.  What if you had no idea how to form letters to complete that form.

There is something very special about reading a handwritten piece of work.  I treasure all the little handwritten notes students and parents have given me, as well as from my own children.  Thank goodness I know how to write.  I have notes and lists everywhere to remind me of things to do.

If you don't have time to teach handwriting during your school day, as Hensher recommends, tell parents to teach their children and to provide their child times to practice their writing, such as writing a nice thank you note to their teacher.

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Best Effort,

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