professornana (professornana) wrote,

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show me the research

I have seen several posts lately on social media about handwriting. There is a question as to whether or not teaching cursive is "worth it." As soon who suffered through the Palmer Method of cursive writing, I can attest to the fact that I spent hours making circles and swoops and practicing parts of making a letter in cursive handwriting. I would have been better if that same amount of time was given over to free reading or recess or some other activity that had meaning. Oh, I had perfect penmanship for a while because we were graded in part on the penmanship. And I wanted As. And because I had been taught with this rather punitive manner, I found myself worrying over how "pretty" handwriting was instead of focusing on the content. I even discovered that I could write faster using a different approach, a sort of hybrid print/cursive manuscript. Writing faster was to pay off as I progressed through high school and into college. Now, I do most of my "writing" on the keyboard. Had anyone recommended I take typing in school, I might be even faster, But I am self taught and manage.

Why this discussion? There have been a couple of "articles" purporting that teaching handwriting has a positive effect on reading. Here is one such article citing research to show handwriting lessons are important: While I do not wish to denigrate the different fields of research, what I want to seer is a controlled experimental study that indicates superior reading when one group gets instruction in handwriting and the other group does not. What I see instead are psychologists and neuroscientist studies that talk about what part of the brain lights up when making letters. I want to see a study that says taking time to teach cursive improves one's reading comprehension. I think teaching cursive is sort of like teaching phonics in isolation. Take a sound and practice making it by itself (buh-buh-buh) instead of reading a story about bouncing baby bunnies. Making swoops and circles and other pieces of a letter IMHO is the same.

Yes, teach kids the alphabet. Have them write their names, words, etc. But let's not focus on this as an end but rather a means. For someone who was schooled for a long time in proper Palmer Method, my handwriting is fairly awful. I can almost see Sr. Ann Marie wincing from heaven as she sees me scrawl my name using all lower case letters. But I hope at the same time that she is smiling because of all the writing and reading I am doing.
Tags: cursive, research, writing
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