from an expert in the field:
Todd Misura runs Maryland-based Write Here Right Now Inc.;(www.
writehererightnow.com) and has spent more than 20 years working
with children who struggle with one or more of the aspects of writing.
AUGUST DEBATE RESULTS:
Is traf;c photo enforcement
a good idea?
CURSIVE HANDWRITING INSTRUCTION continues to be a worthwhile endeavor in our schools. Research shows that children who form
their letters more easily and automatically will score better on standardized
tests than their less-skilled classmates. In the high-stakes environment of
educational testing, legibility and speed do, in fact, matter. A child who
writes slowly and with decreased legibility simply will not score as well as a
child who writes quickly and with less effort.
With some exceptions, ACT and SAT college entrance examinations require handwritten
responses. Handwriting must be legible, automatic and fast. Cursive is the answer.
Many reading specialists teach children cursive writing because they believe cursive mastery
improves a child’s ability to read and spell accurately. Their research indicates that cursive
improves a child’s ability to “chunk” letter sounds (for example “-ing”). The connected nature of
cursive helps a child get an improved mental picture of these sound chunks. By learning these
predictable letter groupings (or “chunks”) within a word, as opposed to decoding each and every
letter, a student can more quickly and easily decode (or read) the words.
Several related studies also contend that if a child can more easily recognize these chunks that
make up words, there will be carryover to the child’s ability to spell with improved accuracy. Here
again, cursive is beneficial.
Modern cursive is not difficult to teach, nor does it require an inordinate amount of instruction time. In most schools, gone are the days of the Palmer method, in which children had to
complete row after row of cursive using slanted swoops, loops and curlicues. The cursive style I
teach can be taught in five- to 10-minute mini-lessons, has fewer loops and is much easier to learn
than traditional cursive. I encourage children to come up with their own style once they have
mastered the basic cursive strokes. In my experience, cursive teaches children how to write with
less effort and increases their legibility and speed.
Cursive mastery benefits children by allowing them to keenly focus their energies upon the
content of their writing and less upon the actual letter formation. I want every tool available when
teaching children. C
Percentage reflects votes
received by August 13, 2010.
JULY DEBATE RESULTS:
from an expert in the field:
Should it be harder to ;libuster?
YES: 41% NO: 59%
Percentage re;ects votes received by
July 31, 2010. Results may re;ect
Debate being picked up by blogs.
Melissa Shepard is the principal of Sue Reynolds Elementary
School in Augusta, Georgia (
CHILDREN USUALLY BEGIN to learn cursive writing in the third
grade and it’s taught for approximately nine to 12 weeks. Students also
spend some time in fourth grade practicing cursive—approximately 30
minutes a week. However, one has to question the need for this.
Cursive writing is not required for most professions, and in our
technology-driven world it is not a necessary skill. When I asked my
teenage son whether he ever needed to use cursive writing, he took a
break from texting and surfing You Tube to laugh and question my expertise as a principal.
He informed me that he does not write in cursive, he has never been required to write in
cursive and his computer will do it for him.
Some argue that cursive writing is needed to provide a signature, but even this isn’t necessarily true anymore. I have filed federal and state documents online without signing them
with a pen.
Cursive’s proponents often argue that it strengthens neuron connections in the brain and
builds visual, spatial and coordination skills. However, many other activities, such as physical education, do this too. In fact, some educators say the best way to strengthen neuron
connections in the brain is to relate what students learn in the classroom to their previous
personal experiences and to make real-world connections to new experiences.
Moreover, good handwriting has not been proven to be associated with intelligence,
SAT scores, school success, career success, etc. If it were, then we would be in big trouble,
because I have never met a doctor with good handwriting!
Modern education continues to stress the importance of teaching cursive writing
because this is what is familiar to education. Education has a way of moving in circles, and it
is difficult for some to move away from the circle due to comfort and familiarity.
We need to make the time for reading intervention. Approximately 21 million
Americans cannot read, and 45 million are marginally illiterate. I believe the time currently
spent on teaching cursive would be better used to hone reading skills. Could you tell a child
there is no time to provide him with reading intervention because he has to practice his cursive writing? C
SEPTEMBER 2010 ;e Costco Connection 17
Opinions expressed are those of the individuals
or organizations represented and are presented
to foster discussion. Costco and The Costco
Connection take no position on any Debate topic.