Fighting the losing handwriting battle

See this article, “Teachers answer call for cursive,” published in The State, which is apparently the state newspaper of South Carolina. A couple of interesting quotes and points:

  • “The two-day training in Columbia that begins Tuesday is run by Zaner-Bloser Educational Publishers, which bills itself as a leading publisher of handwriting and language arts texts for children in kindergarten through middle school.” Hmm… you don’t suppose this company has a business interest in promoting handwriting, now do you?
  • “The company is ramping up a handwriting training initiative built around this sales pitch: Starting this March, college-bound high school students who take the new SAT must write a detailed essay in 25 minutes.” This is kind of a curious claim because I was under the impression that these writing samples were going to be typed. They are going to be scored by readers via computer; does this mean that readers will be reading PDF versions of hand-written essays?
  • “We’re hearing an outcry from teachers in middle and high school who cannot read students’ handwriting. They want it taught in the elementary school,” [Priscilla Mullins, a national product manager for Zaner-Bloser] said.

    With the evolution of wireless, hand-held computers capable of converting handwriting into electronic text, good cursive skills could prove critical, she said.

    “We want to make a connection between handwriting and technology,” Mullins said.

    (Yeah, I bet you want to make the connection between handwriting and technology…).

Mind you, I’m not completely against handwriting instruction. My son, a second grader, has worked a lot on his handwriting this year, and they’ve been working on cursive writing, too. And that’s all fine and good. But just because you learn how to write in cursive doesn’t mean you keep writing in cursive as a test-taking teenager.

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