Meridian Magazine published a provocative piece titled "But Who Will Read the Records?" by Carol Kostakos Petranek (one of the Directors of the Washington DC Family History Center) which discusses a possibly frightening movement underway to eliminate cursive handwriting from public schools (see Cursive Handwriting Getting Erased) and the impact this might have on genealogists.
My experience has been that an emphasis on cursive writing went by the wayside about 10 years ago – by the time my son was a 3rd grader, they spent much less time on cursive and even print writing than for my slightly older daughter. As a result of that, he doesn’t have terribly legible hand-writing, though his typed documents look just fine?!?!?!
I don’t know my thoughts on whether his lack of schooling in cursive would make it more challenging to read handwritten documents? As it is – between spelling variations, vagaries in handwriting, etc, I struggle to read handwritten texts, regardless of when or where written.
Do you think that a generation taught typing instead of cursive writing (with a reduced emphasis on even print writing for that matter) will be more challenged in the future to read hand-written documents or not?
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You know it really doesn't take that much time to teach. My son is in 5th grade and they "learned" cursive in 3rd grade, but after they were taught how to use it, they went back to printing. When I learned cursive you were then told that it was expected that you would now ONLY write in cursive. Sure it took awhile to get used to it, but does that really take up any more time than the students printing? Not every child in elementary school, middle school and high school have computers at home and they certainly don't have them in front of them in school, so how are they supposed to take notes? You know my generation learned cursive...and I learned keyboarding (although they called it typing then!). Both can be taught and I just don't see why they needed this myopic change in the curriculum. I know I purchased a handwriting lesson book from Amazon.com and have made my oldest practice from it. He's not perfect at it, but he'll get better!ReplyDelete
Cursive is a faster style of writing, at least for me ... I looked at my notes from last night and I do a mix of cursive/print writing ... And, I always remember things better when I write them vs typing and if I am listening to someone (and I'm a fast typist -- I learned the old-fashioned way ;-)) I cannot type and listen to them adequately and I can write and listen!ReplyDelete
You do wonder if future brains will find it harder to "read" handwriting if they've only ever seen typed words -- I would think so?!?!
Seems to me that all processes "old" (defined as the way they "used to be done", loosely) are less and less often presented as having any value at all. This cursive-elimination isn't starting now, it started a long time ago. When I was in grade school we had 'penmanship' for the first 3 years and again in the 8th grade (of course we also had a class, and report-card grade, called 'comportment', also long gone) and a failing grade in penmanship meant no recess until one could duly perform the task. We require no such dedication of our young folks now, with mom and dad both working and unavailable/unwilling/too-strung-out to teach/aid/supervise.ReplyDelete
Yes, it will be a very limiting factor if cursive-writing competence disappears altogether, just as it has been to lose so many other of the skills once taught children as a matter of importance. Our educators seem to believe the leap forward has far more power than the value of the past; the idea of melding the two seems foreign to many of them.
I was shocked the first time I helped a young person find a census record only to be told, "But I can't read cursive." It has happened again since then and I can't see how someone unfamiliar with cursive could possible read the records I take for granted.ReplyDelete
My daughter is in kindergarten and they are already teaching typing, hand-in-hand with printing. I doubt that they will teach cursive. This is definitely different from when I was in school, but I stopped using cursive myself in high school.ReplyDelete
As for whether this will hurt future genealogists' ability to read old script, I don't think it will have as much affect as some might think. I never learned to write the old English script with its funny letter forms, but I can read it. Just as other genealogists never learned to write the old German script that bears little resemblance to English at all, yet they learn to read it.
That is the wonderful thing about genealogy--it forces us to learn things that we might never have otherwise learned!
Just read this today ... Deciphering Hieroglyphics of the 20th Century, http://ldsmag.com/family/article/10957?ac=1 -- discusses the 1940 census and even the challenges in deciphering the names in it ...ReplyDelete
A recent piece in the Washington post magazine, Gene Weingarten: Cursive, foiled again, reminded me of this topic! Do read his humorous and yet serious take on this topic, http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/gene-weingarten-cursive-foiled-again/2012/10/18/26ae0e30-117a-11e2-a16b-2c110031514a_story.htmlReplyDelete
Another recent post, this time on Mocavo, by Michael J Leclerc, http://blog.mocavo.com/2012/12/curtains-for-cursive -- what say you?ReplyDelete