While I have written about this topic before, I am thankful to hear that cursive writing is making a comeback. Last spring, in March of 2017, Karen Matthews of the Associated Press wrote a column on the topic that was published in Business Insider.
Apparently, educators are finally becoming aware that children need to learn how to write if for no other reasons than having a signature and being able to read what others have written cursively. I
I mean, Matthews gave the example of a young man, old enough to vote, who when asked, couldn’t sign his registration to vote card because all he had ever been taught was how to print in block letters. Humiliating? Possibly. Certainly embarrassing, if nothing else. And there is no excuse for the education system to have let him and millions of other young people down.
There have always been trends or fads in education. In the 1950s it was “look/see” spelling which turned out a generation of young people who, for the most part, couldn’t spell. I personally experienced such a trend in the 1970s when, as a new elementary school teacher at the junior level (Grades 4 and 5), I was told to embrace the latest “whole language” approach to language arts.
Well, as it turns out, it wasn’t “whole” at all. However, like many teachers, I continued to teach discrete grammar and spelling and I know of many primary teachers who continued to teach phonics. But, eventually, invented spelling took over actual spelling.
Now, the invented spelling approach works well if what you want are ideas on paper. You want the ideas to flow. But, when a good copy is being prepared, that is when the spelling should be corrected. No doubt different vocabulary is used for these approaches today, like “experiential learning” or “discovery learning.” But,it’s all the same thing. It’s not “whole” language if all the skills are not, somehow, taught.
The crux of the matter is that there are consequences to these well meaning trends which are often implemented without any convincing research to support them. For example, prior to my retirement from teaching prospective teachers at the university level, it became obvious that some students were not able to complete formal exams in the time provided. Let’s face it, cursive writing is much faster than printing and, in fact, is also faster than using a laptop keyboard.