Friday, March 20, 2015

Should Learning Technology Replace Learning Cursive in Schools?

By Sean Scarpiello

As computers and tablets quickly make their way into the classroom, the need to learn about these growing technologies is rising quickly. Yet as teachers try to integrate more technology into the classroom, there is a limited amount of time during the school day, so some subjects need to be removed  to allow more time for technology. There has recently been debate among many grade school educators to reduce the amount of time being spent teaching and practicing cursive as it is becoming obsolete. As adults, we all remember spending countless hours in second and third grade perfecting our cursive. As society moves towards a more technology driven world, teachers are seriously considering cutting cursive from the curriculum. Educators are not calling to question the importance of cursive, but some feel that it isn’t worth teaching when there is so much to learn using technology.

First, the major problem that arises with teaching cursive is the opportunity cost. Teachers often ask, “What other subject can I be teaching during the time that it takes to teach second graders cursive.” This question arises in  many teachers because there is a large chunk of class time dedicated to teaching cursive. Students are practically  relearning the alphabet in a more fancy and complicated style by learning cursive. This means they need to spend a lot of time constantly writing out their cursive over and over again. In my schooling, cursive was practiced first thing each morning for about an hour over a time span of about three to four months. Each hour  dedicated to cursive can add up over time and this time could have easily been used elsewhere.

For many teachers, the instruction of cursive is seen as a dying art as technology is quickly taking over. Many argue that people never use cursive to write letters as email has taken over. Even in the workplace, documents are typically typed  out and if not people just print because it is easier. Therefore, it seems preposterous that schools spend a lot of time on cursive when it is used little, if at all, in the future. This especially holds true when teachers notice that time teaching cursive can be used to time teaching students how to use computers and other technology. In the long run, it would definitely serve students better if they were taught to use the computer and type faster rather than learning to write in cursive.

On the other hand, there are still many arguments for keeping cursive in schools. For one, students need to learn it for writing their signatures in the professional world and even in their daily lives as adults. Cursive has always been regarded as a professional  writing style and practiced by well-educated individuals in society. If there is an end to cursive, some think ,many people would come across as being flat out dumb. Even today, too many students do not know how to professionally sign a letter or write out their signature. It is still important to not completely cut cursive from curricula.

While cursive really cannot be cut from the curricula altogether, the teachers’ best option for students to learn this writing style is to assign cursive as homework. Also, cursive could be done independently over the summer. This would give teachers more time in the classroom to teach other important subjects that may be overlooked when trying to squeeze cursive into a full curriculum. An advantage to cursive is how easy it is to learn and can  be learned  by students independently. In fact students could even utilize technology to learn cursive and accomplish both types of learning concurrently.

1 comment:

Elizabeth Klein said...

This is another interesting article from a German News Paper Die Welt.
By Thorsten Mum
Handwriting - a capability that has a growing number of German students difficulties

Handwriting - a capability that has a growing number of German students difficulties
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe had known it: Handwritten lines have their own value. "I have had for some time created a collection of so-called autographs," he wrote to a friend in 1806, "that I seek fact and wish to obtain from great men of the past and present time a hand Written and possess."

With just this ability to hand write something, German students have great difficulty in 2015. That's the message of a survey of over 2,000 teachers who have the motor skills Writing Institute and the German Association of Teachers (DL) presented in the federal press conference.

Accordingly, find 83 percent of elementary school teachers that students today bring less motor skills for learning to write than it was several years ago. In secondary schools agree to the 79 percent of teachers. The survey also shows that about half of the boys and about one-third of the girls have problems with handwriting. Only 38 percent of all students can write symptom-free for more than 30 minutes. Also, the speed of writing and the legibility of the writing are perceived by teachers as problematic.

Kids can test less and try out
Make the teachers in the survey mostly poor fine motor skills of students as a cause of the problem from. The ongoing digitalization is suspected as the cause. In addition, the school lacks the time to practice writing. And the teachers are certain: There is a relationship between the handwriting of a student and his performance. According to DL President Josef Kraus the causes lie in early childhood education. "Children can always try and try less," said Kraus. Doodling, painting, kneading, crafts, the conditions to write.

But the main reason for the decline of the manuscript was school policy: Kraus denounced a "barbarous language" in the schools. As examples, he cited the reduced vocabulary, working with close tests and multiple-choice tests, "even in German lessons".

Warning of loss of a cultural technique

In view of these problems calls Kraus, the Standing of countries to take the issue of handwriting amplified into view: "We need more promotion of gross and fine motor skills back in the day nurseries and primary schools." He also wants to keep the primary schools free of digital teaching content. Computer science and media studies should be taught only from the fourth grade.

The chairman of the Standing Conference, Brunhild Kurth (CDU), said: "The increasing digitalization we can not stop them, but it is even more important that the school ensures that all pupils develop an individual and legible handwriting." The topic of handwriting will be discussed again "on the edge of the KMK sessions".

The debate about the value of the manuscript has school leaders engaged repeatedly in recent years. In Finland and much of the US, students have to learn more cursive in 2016. And in Germany can be taught since 2012 in Hamburg on some primary schools called the base font. The students are asked to develop a kind of document in her own handwriting - without learning the classic cursive. Critics say that such a culture technique is lost.

Also, the brain researcher Manfred Spitzer warned as early as 2012 in his book "Digital Dementia" from the consequences of the decline of Per-hand-writing. Even in childhood you will learn through handwriting motor and cognitive skills for later life. His motto: Without this exercise the brain remains permanently below its potential.