161A.  I am currently working on a curriculum project investigating rthe question, "Why Teach Cursive Writing?" The investigation is for the middle school I work in. Because New York specifies that the Eighth Grade ELA Test may be written in either print or cursive, a division has split the faculty who are arguing whenther it is productive to teach cursive writing to students who would rather use print. I would appreciate being pointed to any research which you are aware of which might shed light on this controversy.

Answer

I am totally mystified about the controversy you explain: If the ELA Test may be written in print or cursive, why teach anything? Students who print or prefer to print can print, and students who write in cursive and prefer to write in cursive can do so!

My goodness, your faculty is indeed a happy faculty if this is the type of question that splits them!!!!! They have nothing else to worry about!!!! WOW!!

On a more serious note, however, it is my understanding that cursive writing may be required for very important events in life. For example, I believe checks must be signed in cursive; personal signatures in cursive may be required for very important documents in life; cursive writing is the only writing that distinguishes one person from another person in legal proceedings and legal investigations. Thus, there is a practical reason for teaching cursive writing.

In fact, I am sure you are aware of the fact that in learning to read and write in Spanish, printing is NEVER taught in Latin American countries nor in Spain. (It is my understanding that printing is NEVER taught in many other European countries.) Just about everywhere in this world, especially in countries that use the Roman Alphabet --which English and Spanish use in writing-- cursive writing is introduced in the earliest grades --Pre-K or Kinder- and initial reading books are printed in cursive writing. It is AFTER mastering cursive writing that printed reading materials are introduced.  Printing, however, is NEVER practiced. Calligraphy is a subject in the curriculum of most elementary and secondary schools and I am sure that, as part of Calligraphy, students learn to write using many elaborate "fonts."

I have not kept abreast of research on writing styles, Calligraphy, or "fonts." I do not know of any research that may help you solve this split in your faculty. Wish you luck!!!

On a personal basis, however, I would like to say that I sign my name always in cursive, but print everything else, especially when using the board or writing signs for others to see. I spent many hours learning and practicing my Calligraphy in middle and high school in Cuba, and I truly admire the cursive handwriting of ALL members of my family, especially my grandfather's cursive writing. Cursive writing has always been considered a symbol of an "educated" person. Beautiful cursive writing truly shows --in my culture-- the intellect and artistic inclination --and many other personal traits-- of a person. I think cursive writing is worth teaching, and a person can earn some good money with cursive handwriting of envelopes and other documents for special occasions.

 

161B. COMMENT:

Subject: cursive Q/A #161

I appreciate your educational input and the resource you provide to educators, thank you.

In question #161 you were asked about research on manuscript vs cursive. I'm surprised that you have given such a broad response with no research to report your hypothesis.

You do make one strong point:On a more serious note, however, it is my understanding that cursive writing may be required for very important events in life. For example, I believe checks must be signed in cursive; personal signatures in cursive may be required for very important documents in life; cursive writing is the only writing that distinguishes one person from another person in legal proceedings and legal investigations. Thus, there is a practical reason for teaching cursive writing. 

Unfortunately this is a fallacy. Your signature is yours. no legal ruling dictates its form. Personal writing in either format can be used to "distinguish" a person from another in legal proceedings.

I know, I gripe. I really do appreciate the info that you have provided me, but something came up and i felt I wanted to share.

 

REPLY:

Well, how wonderful of you to take the time to share this information with me!!!!! THANKS!!!!

Indeed, you have just provided the necessary information to clarify my misunderstanding. I know that illiterate persons may sign with an "X" or someone may sign for them. I thought that your signature in cursive may provide the needed features to peek into your personal traits, but I am going to take your word in reevaluating my understanding to include both print and cursive.

I am delighted that you appreciate precise and well documented facts. Your information will be added to Question #161. Meantime, THANKS for your input, your positive comments about my Web Sites, and your initiative in calling to my attention some facts I needed to know!!!!

A pleasure sharing with you my thoughts . . . and keep on visiting my Web Sites!

 


For more in-depth information, classroom demonstrations, and "coaching" of new and/or experienced teachers, Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK offers:

1. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
2. Cross Cultural Diversity - Multicultural Strategies
3. Effective Instruction for English Learners (L.E.P. students) Parts 1, 2, 3, 4
4. Promoting Academic Success in Language Minority Students
5. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
6. Oral Language / Literacy Skills / Higher Order Thinking Skills
7. 50/50 Dual Language Programs: design, planning and implementation
8. The Structure of English / The Structure of Spanish
9. Transition: Introduction to English Reading

Web Site Programs for Teachers: Numbers 1, 5, 7, 8, and 9.
Web Site Programs for
Paraprofessionals: Number 3.
Web Site Programs for
New Teachers:
Enhanced Cultural Sensitivity - The Challenge of Students Diversity
Identifying / Responding to Students' Language Needs
Phonemic Awareness: Teaching English phonics to L.E.P. students
Relationship Between Reading, Writing and Spelling
Improving Reading Performance -- Building Oral Language Skills)

Write and e-mail any additional questions you may have, and Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will establish with you, your school or district a Technical Assistance Service Contract. Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will answer all your questions promptly and to your satisfaction.

 

For information and credentials please click on the link below or contact directly:

CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK, Ph.D.

Educational Consultant, Program Evaluator

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Certification (12/2006)

3113 Malcolm Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90034-3406

Phone and Fax: (310) 474-5605

E-mail:  csssadek@gte.net