However, ALL kids with reading problems are not automatic at writing the alphabet by hand, and ALL kids who can do so at 40 letters per minute or better become good readers. So we don't have to teach handwriting in the early grades at all, but then we'll have to accept terrible schools and economic collapse for America. It's too bad that you haven't practiced your handwriting to make it easily understood by others; however even so, it is personal to only you.
The reason some of us are sad about handwriting being taught is that it is a skill to be valued AND it is one of the few things that is still individual to a person. Writing a journal is not the same as typing one. I recall writing a journal as a teenager, and then mulling over those thoughts all day.
When I type, the thought is gone as soon as I leave the keyboard. When I comment on these articles, I have to reread my own comments because I don't remember what I said.
I write notes for things that I need to remember, rather than typing them, for that reason. I actually find just the opposite to be true, typing enables my creative process much more than handwriting. Speed is the key for me because I often have several long trains of thought develop very rapidly so that I need to get them down as quick as possible or I start losing parts of them. Even typing isn't fast enough, so I often need to write phrases which I then go back and fill in to make sure I don't lose anything.
I taught myself to touch-type, and it has been a big boon to my productivity. You can do a lot of things with touch-typing skill that you can't do easily with handwriting: Touch typing, learned when young, probably does promote brain development.
But it would be in a different way and I suspect would be less robust. The virtue of learning handwriting as a young child lies in its contribution to brain development and learned habits of mind focus, attentiveness to detail, memory capability, executive control of movements, etc. You are an adult. There is a difference for children. We don't want to make thing unbearable, but we do need to educate the will. Doing hard work will make us more capable human beings. Thank you for a very thorough article and references, Dr.
It is disheartening to hear about all the knee-jerk reactions happening nationwide, as schools remove cursive from the curriculum, based on "common sense reasons" such as "no one uses it any more", "it's archaic, everyone is keyboarding these days", and finally, "I hated it as a kid", always a great reason to pull something out of the curriculum.
For parents and educators interested in the topic, our national "Campaign for Cursive" is going strong: We all know how to walk, and everyone should learn to walk. And we could walk from New York to Texas, but why should we? Everyone needs to learn to print, or cursive. One or the other. More people can read print, so printing is more utilitarian. Well, if you want to be a calligrapher. Otherwise, it's like learning to fix a typewriter. Or to walk from NYC to Dallas.
Instead, teach kids a second language at an early age, when they are most receptive to learning it. Then they can print in both English and French. No one "learns" how to walk. Walking simply emerges, and language is acquired. Yes, there is a difference.
You can't print as fast as you can write. Well, that's true for the vast majority of people. The more things you learn at a young age when it is truly easy, the better for you later. Then you can decide which works best for you. Learn just one, and you're stuck with that one. You can't print in French, at least not if you are an adult.
If you want to be competent in French, you have to learn to write in it in cursive. It's a different culture and stuff. Think of Arabic -- or Chinese -- and of what you'd have to learn to be literate in one of those. As an adult completely capable of writing in cursive, or even calligraphy, in the rare situations that I write extensively by hand, I choose to print. I will say that some of my letters blend together in a cursive-like manner, but overall, it's printed letters. I find that quickly writing in cursive results in too many loops or bumps and I end up screwing up more.
That being said, I can type exponentially more quickly than I can write by hand, and with significantly less strain on my hand muscles too. My main reason for commenting was a knee-jerk reaction to your observation that language is acquired, not learned.
I think the earlier comment stressing that a second language be taught early on actually would also fall under "acquiring. They're not going to memorize grammatical rules. However, if you get them young enough, they WILL, in fact, acquire it naturally, much in the same way they did their native language if they are immersed in it, as many elementary immersion schools do. I'm sorry, but that sounds like pseudo-academic mumbo-jumbo.
The fact that a parent talks constantly to a child and the child hears sounds and sees mouth shape and form is not teaching? I suppose a speech therapist is able to teach correct speech because a child has "acquired" skills poorly? Does a child "acquire" reading skills because someone reads stories to them or do they only "learn" to read when they get to school?
Do children "acquire" keyboard skills when they play games online before they can read or is this just another insidious form of subconscious learning? I can print in French. I don't need to use cursive. I can also write in Hebrew that's from right to left, in case you didn't know: It would be interesting to see if a baby actually decided independently to stand and walk if all they saw was people around them crawling or dragging themselves around on their stomachs Unless a child is systematically deprived of normal human contact and access to speech, he or she will spontaneously begin to "decipher" it, with no instruction whatsoever, and by age 5 will have core grammar and a decent vocabulary in place.
There is no "learning" that is the same, and it makes sense that the capacity for language is this strongly innate, since it is the precondition for most of the rest of learning. As for walking, every child will walk unless prevented. Again, we are talking about criminal coercion or recklessness. Anything less, and the kid will walk. He does not have to watch others walk any more than he has to watch others see.
His visual capacities will emerge, including a sense of color discrimination and perspective, unless someone keeps him in a very dark room or blindfolds him. You put a roomful of first graders together randomly chosen from London, New York, San Francisco, Toronto, and Melbourne, from all different kinds of homes, and what do you know, but they can all talk to each other.
Who "taught" them this? Good thing no one needs to. Walking hardly emerges fully formed, the mechanics are simply foot fall a brand new--relatively--learned mechanical construct but is then practiced with great and long intent. Handwriting instruction is so misunderstood. I believe your fourth paragraph reflects some of this. As a handwriting specialist, I have followed the research carefully.
Brain imaging studies do not support cursive over any other handwriting method. In fact, it is doubtful that any of the subjects in these studies wrote in the manner of cursive. In the Indiana University study the subjects did not write in cursive. However, are we to teach practical handwriting or an art form? Your numbered sources are an attempt to support conventional cursive. Items 2, 4 and 5 are familiar to me, and they do not support any specific method for writing by hand.
My solution to the handwriting discussions is the italic method, easy to read, easy to teach, and it results in a legible age-appropriate hand. Alas, no research, true or false supports it as yet. I am glad I am not the only one who picked up on this. I have no background in neuroscience--PhD candidate in philosophy instead. Yet I too noted that most of his arguments don't support the importance of cursive but rather writing by hand in general.
So, prior to reading your comment, I looked at the source that seemed to be used to most support cursive, the Indiana University study. I was surprised to learn that it didn't involve cursive at all. That the editor let this sort of reasoning through tarnishes the magizine's reputation in my mind. You are completely right! Actually, there is no such thing as "biological dyslexia".
If kids in K-1 practice writing the alphabet until they can do so at 40 letters per minute, all children become readers! I've done an on-line K-1 teacher study proving this, and will send an MS Word file attachment describing it to anyone who emails Bob at rovarose aol. I have no experience teaching cursive. But one web site I checked compared the various cursive styles and ranked them according to the number of separate strokes required.
The italics method came in first place. But I don't understand the premise that multiple strokes are needed to write cursive. The method I was taught enables writing whole words without ever lifting the pen from the page except to dot I's and cross T's. And the penmanship is readable and attractive. Cursive handwriting styles do not remain readable and attractive for everyone.
Several of the MDs and others who have come to me seeking help for their illegible handwriting had been — and proudly displayed to me the proof that they had been — Palmer Method National Medal Winners in their youth. Furthermore, I have met people one still living, several deceased whose cursive had never deteriorated with age and use — but who had nonetheless given it up after encountering italic, trying it out, and finding that in this way they could write as legibly and attractively although testable faster.
I am just a mom, a homeschool mom, who has taught 'handwriting' to my 6 children. My oldest 2 struggled with manuscript writing or print-script. So, I did a little research of my own. I was amazed that 'print-script' was imported into the US in the 's as a way for younger children to learn handwriting in an easier form. However, it is just a form of lettering, not a true form of actual handwriting. His bottom line is to teach cursive first.
I tried this with my children, and was amazed at the results! Their true handwriting became legible, it flowed. And that is key We had been trying italic, which is very popular in homeschool circles.
I even gave it a go for myself. Too much starting and stopping, and this is what frustrated my children with any other form of handwriting except cursive. Did it help their cognitive development? I think many other factors decide that! Do they choose cursive over any other form of communication? But, when they need to write a thank-you note to relatives who do not own computers, their legibility shines.
I am glad I taught them cursive. I think it is a dying art form, a beautiful way to communicate you actually have to take your time! It is important to recognize our differences.
To the anonymous mom, you were wise not to insist on teaching two diverse ways to write. I remain committed to italic because the letterforms relate so well to natural hand movements, giving the end result legibility at satisfactory speed. Would tying shoe laces aid cognitive development as well according to your argument? Or is the point of cursive handwriting that it ties deliberate thought with movements of the body?
But, by the way, the ability to tie shoe laces is used as one of several metrics to measure cognitive development in young children. If co-ordinated fine and complex movements reflect the amount of cognitive development, is it not reasonable to think that practicing such movements can promote cognitive development?
I'm not sure how reliable tying shoelaces is for a cognitive metric, particularly for girls who have many other alternatives in terms of shoe styles or highly intelligent children with fine motor issues. I myself had fine motor problems as a child due to joint laxity and possible dysgraphia motor impulses not reliably transmitting to and from the muscles, causing pain so handwriting was painful if undertaken for more than a very short time.
Yet I was reading fluently probably 3 years before I learned to tie my shoes. I also tried to teach myself cursive sometime in 1st grade and only partially succeeded. You tried to teach yourself to write in cursive in first grade?! Even if you were only partially successful, that is impressive. Do you still have dysgraphia or pain when writing by hand for a while?
I would assume that it is the deliberate thought required to couple movements that helps cognitive development. Even learning to touch type should be helpful, but perhaps not as robust as handwriting.
For more info in the matter, you or other readers of this query are welcome to contact me via e-mail — handwritingrepair gmail. I recently posted a reply to Movieluver and Barchowsky. These are great references. Paradoxically, I note that your own website exemplars for cursive indicate to me that this is not cursive, just slanted printing.
Cursive, as far as I know, has not been proved to be better than hand printing. But it is clearly faster and less hard on the finger muscles. And, since it requires more thought and executive control over hand-finger movements, it SHOULD be more developmentally beneficial than printing.
By the way, those who have a scholarly interest in promoting cognitive development might want to join the "Neuro-education" group I started on Linkedin. I wild find your use of the term, as a descriptor for italic, more credible if I could see that you were capable of doing italic handwriting to the standard shown on the five web-sites I cited.
For the record, I can — nowadays, and for the past 25 years — write a legible conventional cursive, and have had teachers of cursive tell me that My performance therein shows high speed and high legibility.
However, this is not a skill I gained through my years of cursive handwriting instruction at school, which left me a despised washout in that area: Re the speeds of various writing styles — there's abundant research which I can send on request via e-mail that italic handwriters average about one-and-a-half times as fast as equally legible writers of other styles.
Other research citations also available on request shows that, aside from italic, the fastest and most legible handwriters aren't the cursive writers — let alone the print-writers. The highest speeds and the highest legibility appear in those who have consciously or otherwise modified their handwriting to join some letters but not all of them — making the easiest joins, skipping the rest — and to use print-like forms of letters that disagree between printing and cursive.
My interpretation would be that those who write in this manner are combining the best elements of cursive with the best elements of print-writing — e. I was at this conference, and I can testify that the looks on the Zaner-Bloser staffers' faces revealed it as a large and disconcerting shock to them. It was an equally large — but apparently more pleasant — shock to the survey-respondents, as their answers to this question were among the results tabulated on a room-sized computer display as the results came in.
All over the room, you could see widened eyes, delighted smiles, and hear comments between teachers: The lessening of strain, in these semi-joined writings as contransted with ceaselessly joined cursive, would also well account for the observed significant advantage in speed of legible italic samples over equally legible cursive samples. When you learn all of these modalities as a child, of course you can and will make hybrids of them to suit what is best for you when you are an adult.
Let's keep our focus on the issue. They are talking about eliminating yet one more opportunity for the young. Yes, I'm going to call it that, because that's what it is. I have never, ever met a young person from a well-regarded private school who has not mastered several ways to write, and who does not have both PC and Mac skills.
I've also never met one who knows nothing about making a video or an audio tape, for that matter. In fact, they call it "image capture" and "sound capture.
Do you have the time and skills to have one more obligation set before you, to teach your child cursive and italics yourself?
If not, better look into what the curriculum is. You're about to be shortchanged. I don't pretend to be an expert in handwriting. I just enjoyed my 7th grade penmanship class and developed an attractive cursive style that has not deteriorated in 60 years. But I hope you experts will debate this issue by participating in the Linkedin discussion that Kate Gladstone started there.
You may have to create a Linkedin log in account to find the discussion. I am still unclear how Linkedin handles these things, but I know you should be able to find the parent page by typing "Neuro-education" in their search field without the quotes.
Then as various discussions are started, you get an e-mail digest showing additions to each one I think this is the way it works. Remember, the focus of the Neuro-education site is on promoting brain development, not on arguing over what is the best form of handwriting in terms of ease, attractiveness, number of stokes, etc.
I see two reasons as to why cursive might be taught: The latter is where you get into arguments about what is the most efficient and legible method of writing, as well as questions of whether technology is making it obselete. I take it that Dr. Klemm was trying to bring a into the discussion. Though I had critical remarks above about the way the article appealed to the studies cited e. Indiana University study due to characteristics A, B, and C of printing.
Your post got me thinking. I'm old enough that cursive was still taught without question, and only recently became aware that it had been branded "obsolete". You're correct that it's two separate issues, the development part and the usefulness part. If people no longer learn cursive, how the hell do they sign checks?! We developed our personal signatures by learning cursive. If you are having trouble locating a specific resource, please visit the search page or the Site Map.
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