Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cursive writing in Indiana

Handwriting is in the news in (or out of?) Indiana. As of fall 2011, the state will no longer require public schools to teach cursive writing:

State officials sent school leaders a memo April 25 telling them that instead of cursive writing, students will be expected to become proficient in keyboard use.

The memo says schools may continue to teach cursive as a local standard, or they may decide to stop teaching cursive altogether.
“Keyboard use”: that’s the skill formerly known as typing.

The news from Indiana doesn’t help matters, but I continue to think that reports of the death of handwriting have been greatly exaggerated. The 2008 Pew report Writing, Technology and Teens includes this observation:
Most teens mix and match longhand and computers based on tool availability, assignment requirements and personal preference. When teens write they report that they most often write by hand, though they also often write using computers as well. Out-of-school personal writing is more likely than school writing to be done by hand, but longhand is the more common mode for both purposes. [My emphasis.]
One thoughtful student, quoted in the report:
I type so much faster than I write. But if I want to make a paper much better I have to type it out first, then hand write in the changes, then type the good copy. And it makes it easier to think things through if I can handwrite it. And I think my worst work is when I just type it and don’t handwrite it.
Between handwriting and typing, there’s no necessary either/or. It’s smart to be able to do both well.

[Thanks to Sean at Blackwing Pages for pointing me to the Indiana news.]

Related reading
Archaic Method? Cursive writing no longer has to be taught (Tribune-Star)
Typing Beats Scribbling: Indiana Schools Can Stop Teaching Cursive (Time)

Two related posts
Writing by hand
Writing, technology, and teenagers

comments: 1

Elaine said...

I certainly agree--when I compose by hand, my material needs much less reworking and editing; however, hand/wrist issues mean that typing is now my most-used approach.

Somewhere in there I note the difference between a Senior Citizen with a lot of compositional miles on her and a developing thinker/writer...