A new kind of illiteracy - The Southeast Sun: Carly Omenhiser

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A new kind of illiteracy

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Posted: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 8:00 pm

As technology becomes more and more prevalent in everyday life, it’s eliminated or simplified certain everyday tasks.

By putting a computer, smart phone or a tablet in the hands of many of the population, including classroom students, it’s changing the way we do things.

For example, instead of making a phone call, we text. Instead of writing a letter, we send an email. Instead of signing a check, we pay our bills online. Instead of writing an essay paper, we type it.

Do you see where I’m going with this? As the computerization of society grows, our need for penmanship is slipping, creating a different type of illiteracy.

Learning to write will never be taken out of the classroom, but a majority of states, under the new Common Core Standards, will no longer be teaching cursive handwriting.

Alabama is not one of those states.

But there are 41 others who don’t require it, though it is still up to the individual school system to make the decision on whether to spend the classroom time teaching cursive.

What would a world be like without cursive writing?

In many cases, it hasn’t been eliminated, but the amount of time spent on it has been cut in half.

Some have replaced cursive instruction with “keyboard proficiency.”

So rather than taking the time to teach two types of handwriting, many teachers are teaching only print and keyboard skills.

Some feel it’s not worth spending the time on when teachers could be focusing that time on standardized testing subjects, which don’t include cursive writing.

But even if we don’t use it everyday, I think the teaching and practice of cursive handwriting is still relevant and important.

It’s important in the same way learning history is important or taking physical education or art classes.

It creates a well-rounded student.

Cursive handwriting improves a child’s fine motor skills. It increases the speed of writing. It also can be looked at as a form of artistic expression.

There are a lot of things we learn in school that we never use in our lives as adults.

They are taught to us so that we become well rounded and have knowledge in a variety of subject material so when it comes time for us to pick a career, we have a general idea of what interests us.

Learning a lot of different material also helps develop the brain in cognition and memory recall.

Many have argued cursive is important for people to be able to read old documents, saying what would it be like to look at the Declaration of Independence and not be able to read it?

The other side retorts saying, when is the last time you read the Declaration of Independence? And even without teaching cursive, most people would still be able to make it out.

As more emphasis is placed on technology and classroom instruction focuses more heavily on standardized testing materials, it’s inevitable cursive will likely disappear from all classrooms.

And I’m still unsure if it’s a bad thing. If you look at how things are going, the future really doesn’t have a place for it. But I also see its importance in the curriculum.

Carly Omenhiser is a staff writer for The Southeast Sun and Daleville Sun-Courier. The opinions of this writer are her own and not the opinion of the paper. She can be reached at (334) 393-2969 or by email at comenhiser@southeastsun.com.

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1 comment:

  • LeslieFish posted at 4:15 am on Wed, Aug 21, 2013.

    LeslieFish Posts: 1

    Oh, get real! "Cursive" is just ONE style of script writing, and far from the best of them. Other styles -- like Italic, Copperplate, Blackletter, and so on -- are far more legible, easier to learn, quicker to teach, and frankly more beautiful. Cursive lends itself too easily to the illegible scribble for which doctors are notorious, thereby causing thousands of deaths due to "medical error". For all the lives it has cost us, Cursive deserves to die!