Posted by: ugleepen | January 16, 2015

Cursive Handwriting Alive and Well in Arizona

TarynNow that the second half of the school year is in full swing, it seems appropriate that we once again visit the controversial subject of teaching students cursive handwriting.

Below is information written by Cathryn Creno, journalist for the Scottsdale, Arizona, newspaper The Republic,  about a local elementary school where cursive is a very important part of the curriculum:

This month an estimated 4,000 Arizona kindergarten through eighth graders are working on entries for a national handwriting contest sponsored by an Ohio company that aims to keep the art of cursive writing alive.

Anasazi students have won state and national awards in Zaner-Bloser’s contest during the last two years.

Neither the Arizona College and Career Ready Standards, which are based on the Common Core State Standards Initiative, nor Arizona’s previous academic standards have required that students learn cursive.

The current standards mandate that kids master keyboarding and printing.

Many adults, including Arizona State University educational leadership professor Steve Graham, believe there is no need for students to learn anything else.

Graham and others say e-mails, text messages and documents created in systems like Microsoft Word are good substitutes for handwritten pages, And, he notes, printed and electronic signatures are acceptable in most places today.

But that philosophy is not acceptable to Marilyn Harrer, a retired teacher who works as tutor at Anasazi and has been teaching cursive writing to elementary school students since the 1960s.

Amy Coleman’s third grade classroom at Anasazi could be a room from the 1960s, with student essays in cursive taped on walls around the room.

Coleman gives all the credit to Harrer, who has been in her room teaching kids the proper size, shape, spacing and slant for their cursive letters since the first week of school.

Harrer acknowledged that legible cursive is not the easiest thing for students to master. Patience is the secret to her success, she said.

For inspiration, Harrer brings her own family’s antique legal documents for students to study. One, an 1864 Ohio property deed that belonged to her grandparents, has equal amounts of cursive and typewritten text.

Anasazi Principal Jeff Quisberg said he puts strong emphasis on handwriting at his school. Kids need to be prepared for times when cell phones or computers are not available when its time to take notes or jot down an idea, he said.

Madison Hepner, an Anasazi fourth grader who was a Zaner-Bloser handwriting contest National Champion in 2013, concurs with that. She also said she finds cursive “faster and prettier” than printing.

“It’s helps me write much faster — learning it was a breeze,” she said.

Zaner-Bloser marketing director Brad Onken takes those arguments in favor of cursive a step further and points to a recent study out of Princeton University and the University of California at Los Angeles.

The study showed that students who take handwritten notes – instead of typing on a laptop during class – focus more on key lecture topics and perform better on conceptual test questions.

 

Source: Cathryn Creno/ The Republic

Photo Credit: David Wallace/ The Republic

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