Teaching Examples

Symbiosis of communication and technology
April 19, 2007, 2:42 pm
Filed under: education, future, tools

I love thinking about the ways in which humans invent and modify new technologies, only to see the use of technology in turn modify us and the way we do things.

My colleague Lauren sent me a link to this CNet story about declining emphasis on teaching cursive writing in primary school. The reason:

[A]s states re-evaluate the standards that dictate to schools what students need to know — including the seemingly universal addition of requirements for computer literacy — there is a lot of discussion of whether cursive should even be taught. If it’s removed as a requirement, many of today’s new teachers, brought up in the computer age themselves, will probably decide against teaching cursive handwriting …

The article gave me flashbacks to the terrible boredom of penmanship class when I was in third and fourth grade. I was so bored, I just could not be bothered to form perfect letters. And yet, I felt sadly inferior to the blond girl who always got a gold star pasted on her penmanship exercise.

But writing by hand will not soon disappear:

Printing is still one of the main teaching methods for reading and writing. Educators call it “writing to teach.” Handwriting, which has evolved into a hybrid of script and print, should stay around for quite some time.

Don’t miss the interesting illustrations (especially No. 6) that accompany this story — they show how our Western writing practices are changing.

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3 Comments so far
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My handwriting was so bad when I was in school that by 6th grade my teachers informed me that I should stop trying to write in cursive at all and just hand in my assignments in regular print. They were barely legible, but they were legible.

By the time I finished grad school my handwriting had deteriorated to the point where I can barely read it myself. This would be fine if I could always count on being able to take notes on a computer, but I can’t. You never know when you’re going to need good penmanship.

Comment by Brad Linder

I NEVER write in cursive, only print. I think I may have forgotten many cursive letters. I’m sure if I sat and thought I could write all of them, but it would be inefficient and ugly.

Comment by Angela Grant

But Angela … cursive is supposed to be FASTER!

My cursive hand degrades too fast, though. I have to be super mindful to prevent it getting flattened out and illegible.

Letter-writing used to be the MAJOR means of communication between people. If you’ve ever read Edith Wharton: People would visit your house and leave a lovely note written on a fancy calling card if you’re weren’t home when they “called” on you.

No need for that now, so — less need for lovely handwriting.

Comment by Mindy McAdams

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