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Cursive writing going the way of the slide rule?

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POSTED February 1, 2013 11:28 p.m.

Here’s a shocker.

The Founding Fathers did not keyboard the Declaration of Independence.

And because of that, a growing number of young people can’t read the actual document.

They’re not illiterate. They just can’t read cursive script handwriting.

More and more public schools are abandoning handwriting. They believe it is an archaic form of communication. California is among a handful of states that still require cursive handwriting among its core subjects. The trend, though, is to drop cursive and replace it with keyboard competency before junior high.

Some experts – there’s always an expert in everything, including cursive handwriting – contend it is easier for non-English speaking students to learn words when they write them instead of typing them on an iPad. That may be a clue to why some form of tactile connection with the language arts – actually writing something in one’s own hand instead of keyboarding – it may be more effective as a building block for learning.

But there are educators who believe cursive is about as important to learning as a slide rule is essential to learning trigonometry and higher forms of math.

Perhaps they are right.

But there is something impersonal about learning to communicate just by keyboarding. The day is coming when printing won’t be learned with a pencil and paper but instead with a keyboard and a screen.

Some will argue thumbprints, voiceprints or eye scans one day will replace your signature. So why learn cursive?

And then there is the argument that most of us don’t use cursive anyway but instead employ a hybrid form of printing, gobbledygook (think doctors), and our own creative script.

Try to read my notes, and you’d agree with that premise.

Yet I still sign my name in script even though some might be hard pressed to read it.

Actually, you would find it hard to believe I’m related to my siblings - or mom - based on my signature. My oldest brother, who was an architect, could produce printed letters by hand that looked almost iPad perfect and do so in double time. My other brother and mom had beautiful cursive that would make an old-fashioned schoolmarm jealous. My sister can turn out calligraphy-style writing in a blink of an eye. She also happens to be a teacher.

As for me, I look like someone who is left-handed but was forced to be right-handed because that is exactly what happened. I had a first grade teacher who believed people who used their left hand were somehow stupid. In my case, some people might agree with her.

And as an added bonus, I don’t type. For those born before 1995, that is what people did before they keyboarded.

I don’t exactly hunt and peck, either. It’s my own system that works for me with two fingers. Most people contend they have a hard time matching my speed.

That’s not bragging. It’s just pointing out something. All people don’t learn the same way. Keyboarding puts every young kid into the same box. The tactile development of cursive handwriting - or even printing - triggers something in one’s mind in a much different manner than keyboarding.

Something that some people thought was the stupidest thing to come out of the recent Las Vegas gadget show was a potty training seat designed so a toddler could sit there while playing with an iPad.

I might be wrong, but I don’t see how pounding keys or touching apps on screens develops the unique personalities that help sharpen creative thinking.

It is akin to robbing kids of a chance to develop their imagination because we inundate them with so many toys, TV, video games and computers.

Cursive writing isn’t a much an art as it is a communication form that brings out the individual instead of making us all mere bar codes to scan.

 

This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or 209-249-3519.

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