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Is Cursive Dead? New Article 28 June 2013



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inkstainedruth

Polikoff (in the article) displays his ignorance as an educator as studies have shown that one learns more and remembers more when one writes the information (and takes notes) by hand as opposed to typing (using a keyboard).

 

I would certainly hate to have my ability to do my work be limited by an inability to use writing instruments. Even worse would be to limit my ability to do this work in a neat, beautiful, and creative manner due to an inability to use cursive.

 

How sad it would be for us to go back to the times when people made their marks -- an X or other squiggle -- rather than our being able to sign our own names!

I want to be like the one guy in the beginning of the film _The Return of Martin Guerre_ who signs the marriage contract between Martin and Bertrande as a witness -- he makes his mark by drawing a duck! Later in the movie there is a scene where Martin is arrested -- for the second time -- and the arrest warrant is covered with the "x" marks of the various villagers; one is pointed out to him as proof that even Bertrande has turned against him. Go rent the film sometime to get the rest of the story!

Okay, I admit it -- my handwriting is pretty atrocious, because I tend to print everything except my signature. But at least (unlike that kid applying for a passport -- that story was in another thread) I *do* know the difference. And I know that writing on a piece of paper with a pen has done more for the creative process for me than all the typing I do online. And not just me -- my husband is a software developer and he routinely does design work on paper with a pen; now if I could just get him to use a better caliber of pen than a fine BP.... ;)

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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inkstainedruth

 

You forgot thumb prints. :P

 

I think a lot of people believe that PCs and digital technology allow "easier learning". I can't even begin to count how many lectures I've gone through, utterly frustrated by powerpoint slides. I had a very old professor - he was Francis Crick's student, so he's SUPER old - who wrote everything out on the board. I loved his lectures, and his lectures I still remember, 6 years later. I learn by writing and taking notes on a blank sheet of paper.

 

Unfortunately, most lectures nowadays (especially in the sciences) heavily rely on powerpoints. I hate those lectures; my retention suddenly drops from a dramatic 80% to about 40%! And since most professors whiz through the slides that make writing on blank sheets of paper impossible (diagrams and animations make this rather difficult), I have to print out the slides, record the lecture, write on the slides as the lecture's recorded, come home, then re-write the lecture... then sort those lecture notes out by re-writing them into a notebook. But all my peers seem to like this format, placing me in the minority.

 

Same with textbooks. More and more students are using online textbooks, but I can't use them. I can't even read them without my attention wandering (my eyes wander to other things once or twice per sentence).

 

So maybe I'm just technologically incapable... and the newer generations learn just fine by typing. I've noticed that I really don't retain as much if it's via electronics, whether it be communication or study material; I even forget conversations when it's through skype or text (this is so bad that I sometimes don't know who's talking to me, even with their names displayed). I thought I had Alzheimer's for a while, but nope... I just don't retain information on screen as well as I do on paper.

 

I think my attention wanders when I'm looking at the screen, as I can't take exams online either. In this day and age, this is probably going to be the death of me someday, but I've yet to have anyone tell me how to study with powerpoint slides (I got about two years worth of "how to take good notes while the teacher is writing and talking", however).

 

But I am told that my knowledge is rather extensive compared to an average person, whoever the average person is (that phrase always reminds me of 0.3 of a child that shows up in The Phantom Tollbooth). So maybe electronic learning is short-term and a more analogue method of learning is long-term...

 

Cursive is faster for me. It's evident from my essay exams; I'm printing at first for legibility, but as soon as I feel pressed for time suddenly my handwriting switches to cursive, and I only noticed this after I got the exams back. But writing cursive fast requires practice, perhaps, and it's an acquired habit, and perhaps without the practice it's slower than printing.

 

American educators don't get instructed on how to teach cursive. A survey yielded that only 11% of teachers are taught how to teach cursive in 2011. In Japan, cursive is not mandatory in English curriculum post-1998.

 

According to Time...

 

 

Cursive isn't the only thing being ushered out the door. Map reading is also getting obsolete, along with using hard copy dictionaries and going to libraries. Maybe this is a good thing, as life is getting more convenient for more people.

 

Me? I still need maps and I still have dictionaries in front of my desk. But I'm obstinate and old-fashioned. :P

The fact that you even have *read* The Phantom Tollbooth says a lot; I recall it largely being about how learning is GOOD without hitting one over the head with ,er, what a late friend of ours, a civil engineer by trade, used to refer to as "a fine adjustment tool" (by which he meant a 2o pound sledgehammer :rolleyes:).

As for map-reading, this story is anecdotal but true: a couple of years ago my brother came out to visit. He lives in eastern New Jersey. We had previously invited him out and had sent him email with the directions, which were pretty simple: Get on Interstate 80. Go west. When you hit I-79, go south till you get to I-279 (left exit) and go south on that [then follow the local roads].

Phone call comes in about dinnertime; he's about an hour out, stuck in traffic. On Route 22, about 20-25 miles east of Pittsburgh. (Notice that the previously stated directions said nothing about Route 22....) My brother decided to follow what the voice on his GPS said -- NOT the instructions told him by the people who have been making the trip between Pittsburgh and the East Coast for a quarter of a century (or more)....

So what did the GPS do? Sent him the "short" way, down I-99 through Altoona, PA. Which then put him on what is a largely secondary route that goes through many small towns, has lots of traffic lights (particularly at this end of the route) and stuck him in the midst of evening rush hour in the eastern suburbs (I live northwest of Pittsburgh). "Mr. Technology" apparently couldn't be bothered to even check GoogleMaps first before leaving his apartment -- just blithely followed the voice on the little box. And it steered him wrong.

I suspect he'll never come out here again. Oh, and what did he give us for Christmas? A GPS -- and not even the same brand that he used....

Sigh. Map reading really *isn't* rocket science (okay, maybe it is for my idiot of a brother).

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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N2theBreach

... Map reading really *isn't* rocket science ...

...you are absolutely right. It is not rocket science. For some people it is more like an Ouija Board, and for them, about as reliable !

 

Yes, map reading is a skill. I like maps. You can take a trip and never leave the house. But, there are some folks that are map-challenged (not that I have any close relatives that fit that mold, mind you!). They get to see a lot more of the countryside than I do.

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thang1thang2

Oh that was funny...

 

Here's a story about how the GPS was smarter than me. I was down in Santa Rosa recently, and I had to go to a small restaurant off of 4th street. I was looking at the directions they had provided, and in typical male fashion, I looked at the end of the directions, said "oh it's off of 4th street? I know where that is" and ignored the rest of the directions. 4th street comes, and I can't find it. Apparently, the town is old enough that 4th street has a huge complex stuck in the middle of it. So there are really two different fourth streets. The one on the right side of the dumb mall, and one on the other side... With a little help from the GPS, and with my mother's frustration steadily rising, we were only 15 minutes late...

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Tuxedomoon

I think the discussion about cursive dying is a very (US) American one. Cursive is still tought and read in every western European country I know...

"Du bist die Aufgabe" - Franz Kafka

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I teach in private international schools in Egypt that teach American or IB Curricula. There is no consistent policy here regarding what writing to teach. It really comes down to whatever the teacher who teaches the student in elementary feels works. The result is a mixed bag of student writing types.

 

This year I piloted a Study Skills lesson where dictation was one of the skills taught to facilitate student note taking. Technology infrastructure and teaching methods lag the USA a bit so, lectures are still seen to be a part of the current generations educational future. Students have taken up cursive to increase their writing speed. Students who happened to learn it young did better.

 

I taught IT this year as a substitute as well. I did one lesson for 9th grade in which I introduced databases. Technical problems with the IT lab meant that one class got a lecture in a classroom, while the other saw a presentation in the lab. Both classes had to take notes, one on paper, the other by typing into Powerpoint. The lectures were kept the same as much as I could. It wasn't scientific in any rigorous sense, but the students who wrote with a pen ended up better able to explain things using the correct terms and concepts. I hazard that the act of writing made the recall of information easier when it was needed.

 

I think writing connects people to knowledge more than typing. Presentations are great, but most people giving them neglect the performance aspect. Explaining things to a crowd should be viewed as a performance art as much as a Science. Many presentations that tank do so because the performance aspect is neglected.

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GabrielleDuVent

I think the discussion about cursive dying is a very (US) American one. Cursive is still tought and read in every western European country I know...

 

Not necessarily. I've never seen any of my British friends (apart from my boyfriend) write in cursive of any sort, I was never taught cursive in my primary school, and I often get complaints they can't read what I write (although that might be because my handwriting is far more atrocious than I think...). My friend's little brothers all print their schoolwork, and they're past the age when I learned cursive. There are also schools in the UK which had disallowed use of fountain pens because it "lowers test scores". If you recall the scene from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry is seen printing in Tom Riddle's diary (which also brings up another question... when and where did Harry learn to properly dress a quill?).

 

Cursives are being disused worldwide; Japan has stopped including cursives in its English curriculum since 1998, and there are Japanese who can't read the semi-cursives in Japanese either.

 

It's very likely, in my opinion, that this is one of the side-effects of people writing less and less. With things like Siri, maybe even typing will be phased out in the coming decades.

Tes rires retroussés comme à son bord la rose,


Effacent mon dépit de ta métamorphose;


Tu t'éveilles, alors le rêve est oublié.



-Jean Cocteau, from Plaint-Chant, 1923

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Waski_the_Squirrel

Math and science! My favorite subjects! Please tell me, what particular types of math and science do you teach? Physics and calculus, general science and perhaps algebra 2? Just curious.

My degree is in Physics, so I teach that. I also teach Chemistry and Biology. On the math side I've taught everything from Calculus down to 8th grade math. This year I'll be teaching 8th grade Algebra 1. It's a smaller school: 450 students K-12 and we cover a land area bigger than the state of Rhode Island.

 

As for powerpoints, I whole-heartedly agree. Besides, I find that many people learn far better when you actually draw things through better. One interesting thing is to get a smart-board and then draw all your diagrams and everything with little notes and thus, in essence, "create" your notes during the lecture. You can then set the program to save the entire thing as a .pdf and then email it to all the students at night. If they copied your board verbatim, they would have the minimum notes required and they would learn what's necessary for notes and what's not.

 

 

The smartboard is not in my future. The district decided they are not needed in the high school. At least I have a projector!

But, yes, I much prefer handwriting math/science notes in general. Even if you get really really good at LaTeX and typing out horrendous formulas, it's still just so frustrating and you pay too much attention to the typing rather than learning the content.

 

I liks LaTeX a lot, but can't imagine taking notes with it. I use it to create handouts, tests, and quizzes. I can't imagine a high school student using it, though.

(As to your signature: North Dakota is a surprisingly awesome place. Del Tynsdale lives there, along with several members of the Spencer family. Bet you didn't know that!)

Thanks! A lot of people are surprised with the pictures I take. It helps that I live in the western end. I did not know about Del Tynsdale or the Spencers. Interesting!

Proud resident of the least visited state in the nation!

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As for powerpoints, I whole-heartedly agree. Besides, I find that many people learn far better when you actually draw things through better. One interesting thing is to get a smart-board and then draw all your diagrams and everything with little notes and thus, in essence, "create" your notes during the lecture. You can then set the program to save the entire thing as a .pdf and then email it to all the students at night. If they copied your board verbatim, they would have the minimum notes required and they would learn what's necessary for notes and what's not.

For my teaching, I go lower tech than that with similar results. I write in a spiral notebook under a document camera, and scan that to a pdf as needed. I use PowerPoint once a year in one class only. I use it to introduce the concept of imaginary numbers, and it lasts for only about 10 minutes. Besides the extra work involved in creating such a presentation, I find that PowerPoint reduces the flexibility and interactivity of the instruction to the detriment of the students.

 

I liks LaTeX a lot, but can't imagine taking notes with it. I use it to create handouts, tests, and quizzes. I can't imagine a high school student using it, though.

I like LaTeX, too. It's what I create materials for the students with: so much easier and such better results. But I can't imagine using it to take notes even after learning it well, and I can't imagine high school students wanting to do that.

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