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From cursive to comic sans - is handwriting losing its value?

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Tech Savvy: From cursive to comic sans — is handwriting losing its value?


Last week we took a look at the ever changing availability and use of technology inside our children’s classrooms. There’s no question about it, technology advancements ultimately means the way we learn will be tweaked and altered to adjust.

But what about the original standards we set for ourselves? The pillars of basic education as we have known it, will they fall by the wayside and become obsolete?

Most people remember the pains of learning cursive. The extra loops and swoops and trying to decipher how exactly a ‘z’ is made into that and why there are so many extra humps in ‘m’ and ‘n.’ For me,learning cursive began in school in third grade, with penmanship beginning in preschool.

Cursive to me was cool. My grandma and mom wrote like that and it was much quicker.

But as always, things have changed and cursive isn’t as big of a focal point in our education systems today as it was even 20 years ago.

Reports began surfacing in 2011 that less and less emphasis is being placed on cursive and penmanship due to the increasing use of computers.

According to a an article in the New York Times, it states that:

“In our modern day, keyboard and smartphone-focused lifestyles, we simply don’t need is and more except in signing our names on credit card bills. So let cursive rest in peace, and embrace our evolution as a species.

“We don’t write on cave walls anymore, either, at least the majority of us don’t.”

The article also offered a counterpoint, noting that learning cursive is key to brain development and “learning to produce script strengthens the connections between hand and brain, a vital part of human development.”

Outside of just cursive becoming less of a priority, the latest writing test from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) or the known to many as the Nation’s Report Card was released the week. The test is given to 24,100 eighth graders and 28,100 seniors in high school to test on progress in the nation’s writing abilities.

What made this year’s results stand apart, was that it was the first year the writing test was computer-based. Tested students were able to take advantage of editing software and writing tools like spell check and the thesaurus as they created writing samples.

A test on writing, actually typed? The NAEP said that because it was the first test administrated on a computer, it will not be compared to past pencil and paper scores, but it seems a bit odd if you ask me — Not that I don’t love taking advantage myself of spell check.

Of course I understand the importance of learning how to type. As I mentioned last week, we spend an entire quarter in middle school devoted to learning how to type. Proper hand placement, how to look at the screen while pressing keys and tricks that come in handy to this day in the workplace. But focus was also still on handwriting just as much.

Still, like telephones for conversation and books and newspapers for reading, these things will never become extinct despite all the new tech gadgets that will continue to grow. But what do you guys think? How important should handwriting be in today’s learning? I will accept both emails and handwritten letters for response.

JESSI PIERCE, staff writer, may be reached at 855-5859 or Follow her on Twitter at (@jessi_pierce).