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Writing in Cursive, Not Taught in Many Public Schools?



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essayfaire
1 hour ago, OleJuul said:

That's totally on track with the book I just started reading.

 

The History and Uncertain Future of Handwriting - by Anne Trubek

 

Here's a review.

I think I read another review of the book and decided that my TBR pile was fat enough, but the topic is fascinating!

Festina lente

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In Classical Athens, I have read, many lamented the growing prevalence of literacy. The fear was that children would no longer have to remember important stuff; they could just write it down. They would lose the ability to memorize. This fear was probably justified, but culture is very slow to change. As recently as 100 years ago, memorizing poems and famous speeches was a significant feature of education. My grandfather had the entire old testament committed to memory. I have a pretty good memory for my generation but don't have any poems longer than a limerick memorized.

 

The printing press, the typewriter, the personal computer and more recent technological devices have all been regarded as portending the doom of handwriting. The smart phone and Twitter may finally have done the deed. Or not.

 

I am a developmental pediatrician. 30 years ago, when I advocated for patients with dysgraphic (a learning disability for handwriting) to be allowed to take notes and submit homework by keyboarding, I met with resistance from teachers. Now, they have stopped teaching handwriting.

 

Last week, I heard a talk by a local University Professor of Archaeology. He was doing research that included analysis of store ledgers from about 75 years ago. They were handwritten in cursive. He said very few of his (university) students could read cursive.

 

Each technological advance in recording and saving human language has had its advantages and costs. My personal opinion is that the deletion of handwriting from the standard curriculum in so many areas is just a piece of the more global deletion of eduction in the arts and humanities. Our eduction system is still trying to catch up with the Soviets, who launched Sputnick and scared the U.S. into enhancing math and physical science eduction ... tragically at the cost of what makes us human.  But following that line of causation is for another day.

 

David

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Nice considerations. Still, we tend to abide by Platonic view of the world, where body and soul were unrelated, and where souls lived in a realm of ideas and not subject to real world limitations.

 

Yet, we are subject to real world. And for me, that means that evolution applies. Those best fit will survive and predominate ultimately substituting the less efficient. We are being sold that illiteracy is more efficient than hand writing, that googling is better than memorizing, that computers do away with the need to do mathematics, and so on...

 

From my point of view, that ignores what are we doing it for: which is ourselves in the end. If we want to learn about ourselves we cannot live in the realm of ideas, google, social networks and YouTube, we need to read, write, memorize, practice handcrafts, and relate in person to understand each other.

 

Ignoring these is like denying we have a body (and a social body) and a history, denying first-hand experience (which is the only way to learn for most of us) and betraying our own nature.

 

I do not say we should be luddites. I say we should welcome the new, but not ignore the old. Sadly there is a new generation that grew loving the new and hating the old, who make great consumers, who take anything sold as an advance without criticism(1) and who have become the new teachers. For the common benefit I hope they are right, though what I learned from History doesn't seem to be on their side.

 

I do not know which will be the final outcome, but I am sure time will tell. For now, what can we do? Just decide what we think is better, what we would like to succeed and stick to it. Whether we are right or not only time will tell. Whether we feel that we betrayed ourselves or were coherent with ourselves only we can tell.

 

(1) Maybe that is what we should do: offer handwriting as a new, advantageous technology that offers a connection with novel ways to develop oneself. Maybe that is why we are here: because once you get tired of the ideal world you seek some contact with the real one, like in handwriting. Maybe next generation will grow without these prejudices.

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20 hours ago, dms525 said:

 

I am a developmental pediatrician. 30 years ago, when I advocated for patients with dysgraphic (a learning disability for handwriting) to be allowed to take notes and submit homework by keyboarding, I met with resistance from teachers. Now, they have stopped teaching handwriting.

 

 

David

My understanding of the current state of research is that (of course making allowances for those with dysgraphia or other problems) students who handwrite their notes are much more likely to retain information than those who type/keyboard them.  This isn't just because of the attention difference of  whether one is paying more attention to the teacher or the document, but because letters are formed differently from each other.  When we type we don't form the same type of kinesthetic memories of how are fingers worked as the tactile response of pushing on any key is not different from that of pushing on any others.

Festina lente

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1 hour ago, essayfaire said:

My understanding of the current state of research is that (of course making allowances for those with dysgraphia or other problems) students who handwrite their notes are much more likely to retain information than those who type/keyboard them.  This isn't just because of the attention difference of  whether one is paying more attention to the teacher or the document, but because letters are formed differently from each other.  When we type we don't form the same type of kinesthetic memories of how are fingers worked as the tactile response of pushing on any key is not different from that of pushing on any others.

 

The result you cite have been replicated in several studies and is the strongest pedagogical rationale for encouraging handwritten notes. The neuropsychological mechanism is a matter of speculation at this time.

 

Many professional authors describe handwriting as opposed to typing enhancing the creative process. Some say the slower speed of recording their thoughts is advantageous.

 

I have been using a personal computer for almost 30 years. I type much, much faster than I can handwrite legibly. I find I can go from thought to typing without any conscious attention to the motor act. I prefer typing for academic tasks. However, I very much enjoy handwriting letters to friends and relations. I believe it adds emotional value to the communication and, since I write letters in cursive italic, it provides me and my reader an aesthetic bonus that typed letters do not.

 

David

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