Editorial: Long live art of penmanship


Share
Posted Online: Dec. 04, 2012, 6:00 am
Comment on this story | Print this story | Email this story
The (Fall Rivers, Mass.) Herald News
Is penmanship becoming a lost art? In many states, it may very well be lost forever. A growing trend to eliminate cursive from elementary school curriculum or make it optional seems to be taking shape across the nation.

In fact, 45 states plan to eliminate cursive handwriting with computer keyboarding proficiency as a requirement for completing elementary school under new national curriculum guidelines for English and math. Fortunately, Massachusetts, California and Georgia are among the states that have preserved cursive as a mandatory part of third-grade curriculum in adopting their national curriculum guidelines for 2014.

It seems terribly shortsighted to eliminate the penmanship requirement. Why not teach students both keyboarding and cursive? Certainly, computer skills are important for young students to learn, but many students already have exposure to typing and electronic devices before they even get to third grade. Chances are, though, that none of them would know how to write in cursive. Why cheat them out of this valuable skill?

Some educators -- and a growing number of students -- say that cursive is a waste of time these days. They ask why should students have to learn two different scripts, when one -- printing -- is sufficient? But the art of penmanship should not go the way of the Dodo bird. Proponents of teaching penmanship say that cursive helps students' brains, coordination and motor skills, and it connects them to the past.

Many students these days apparently never write in cursive, shunning it for printing when they write. They even have trouble reading it since they see it as "a waste" of brain space. Such thinking is especially detrimental to understanding our past. Handwritten letters and primary documents are often important links to understanding local, national and world history, and even family histories.

Think of the U.S. Constitution, letters from the Civil War, World War I, World War II, or even correspondence from parents and grandparents and earlier ancestors offering genealogy clues that these youngsters would miss. Imagine all the lost educational opportunities if cursive writing essentially became a foreign language to future generations. If students no longer learn cursive, we may lose a crucial connection to our past.

While it's true that students ought to learn how to properly use technology, and they will almost certainly text and type much more frequently than they write in their lifetimes, it is unnecessary and potentially detrimental to sacrifice the art of penmanship in order to teach youngsters proper typing.

Penmanship helps us understand and keep a valuable connection to our past. Let's hope that Massachusetts' commitment to preserving the art of old-fashioned writing lasts throughout the generations.















 



Local events heading








  Today is Saturday, April 19, the 109th day of 2014. There are 256 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: Miss McCorkindale has opened millinery rooms over Gimbel's dry goods store, where she offers a choice lot of millinery goods, which she will manufacture to order.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The little South Park Presbyterian chapel celebrated it first Easter decorated with flowers for an afternoon worship service attended by a large congregation.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Wennerberg Chorus of Augustana College has returned from a 2,000-mile tour in the Eastern states and Illinois.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Col. Charles Lindbergh has stated that he is convinced that Germany's air force is equal to the combined sky fleets of her potential European foes.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Small gas motors may be permitted on boats in the lake to be built in Loud Thunder Forest Preserve. The prospect was discussed yesterday at a meeting of the Rock Island County Forest Preserve Commission.
1989 -- 25 years ago: The annual Dispatch/Rock Island Argus Spelling Bee continues to be a family tradition. Ed Lee, an eighth-grader at John Deere Junior High School, Moline, is the 1989 spelling bee champion from among 49 top spellers in Rock Island, Henry and Mercer counties. He advances to the competition in Washington, D.C. Runnerup was Ed's sister, Susan.






(More History)