To quote Dr. Taylor Swift – Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts, “when we (technology) go crashing down, we (teachers) come back every time ’cause we (basic skills) never go out of style. “
Basic skills such as spelling, mental math, and cursive, should not be replaced by technology. Entirely. It is very easy for adults to forget what the learning process of these skills feels like. Try to imagine right now not knowing your multiplication facts, not knowing how to sign your name, and constantly being ridiculed for your spelling. Having to solely rely on technology to perform these skills can often leave you feeling dependent and at a loss if you can not access them. Do these tools offer additional support for those that struggle to learn these skills on a basic level? Absolutely. However, the ability to fall back on a learned skill when at school, in the workplace, or in everyday life can be a great asset when technology fails us.
(This time around I made sure to try out the tip that Dalton, Leah and Kelly gave me about how to add pictures into my blog post differently. For this photo, I added a column block and split it 30/70 and I was able to add a photo to the left and then a text box to the right. Yay for learning new things about WordPress blogging!)
In addition, learning these basic skills can promote creativity and spark personal interest. For example, a student who learns cursive in school may end up pursuing calligraphy or visual arts and might not have ever tapped into their full creative potential. Fine motor development at a young age is also extremely beneficial for all fine motor activities that we perform in all areas of our life. Students who are quick to memorize their multiplication facts and can apply that skill to their problem-solving abilities might feel drawn toward the maths and sciences. And like the debate mentioned, companies who consistently have spelling mistakes often suffer great consequences in their sales. Those with spelling mistakes on their resumes miss out on opportunities based on a first impression judgement.
I personally have always printed. But I have no issue reading cursive writing because I understand it. I remember being forced to handwrite everything in grade 5 and absolutely hating it. Once we all moved into the 6th grade we were relieved that we were able to switch back to printing. I always enjoyed practicing my signature growing up. I made it through university being able to handprint notes and still keep up with the lecture. And I do value the effect that handwritten notes had on my learning capabilities versus those typed out.
In Educhatter’s article about Mathematic Deficits, Fredericton’s manager of Kumon Math and Reading operation quotes, “There’s a widening gap says Connell. She finds that students do not know their fractions, and can not do long division or basic subtraction and borrowing operations. Students don’t have the skills at hand to engage in problem-solving and higher-level math.”. I see this as a teacher myself. It seems that students are memorizing their multiplication facts later and later. I believe I had mine memorized by the end of fourth grade. I currently teaching 6th and 7th graders that struggle to remember their times tables and rely on their multiplication chart in their agendas and use calculators. I know that once they move up into the higher grades, it is going to take them much longer to complete higher-level questions, and potentially get lost along the way.
In contrast, Edutopia’s article written by Tom Berger on “What we lose with the Decline of Cursive” shares that cursive is historically associated with good character and virtue. These skills supported the qualities of an “Ideal Christian”. Is cursive writing just another way to separate society into classes? Those who can and can not handwrite? With the evolution of the typewriter, however, the decline of cursive writing has been steady. And, thanks to computers and smartphones, now more than ever we are seeing cursive writing removed from school curriculums where they are most frequently taught.
I would like to point out that as an adult I actively only use printing except when spelling my name, use calculators when doing mental math, and always use Grammarly spelling check when typing. These tools enhance my ability to check for errors and ease these processes. Could I manage without them? Yes. But, at this point in time, I don’t have to go without them, so I might as well take advantage of them while I have access to them. I still went through the valuable learning process of understanding the cursive alphabet, spelling and grammar practice and understanding my multiplication tables. When my grandma writes me a handwritten card for my birthday I am able to read it and cherish those memories. When I am writing my own thoughts on paper I can spell my words correctly for others to understand and proofread well, and I can fall back on mental math when a calculator is not right in front of me.
I have struggled as a relatively new teacher as to whether or not I should be doing weekly spelling tests and mad minute practice sheets with my students. Part of me thinks I am failing my students if I don’t, and the other is telling me that it might not benefit them in the long run. And that there might be other ways to learn these skills other than drill and practice. What are your thoughts?
4 thoughts on “Is Cursive Going Out of Style?”
I really enjoyed reading your blog post and also very much appreciated your reference to Taylor Swift, huge fan and you definitely caught my attention! 🙂
I am glad you appreciated the academic-based spelling article as much as I did! In reference to correct spelling and business advertisements, there recently was a new business advertisement sign posted on Victoria Avenue in Regina for a new salon, called Olive and Ash. However, the sign read Oilve and Ash for a good few weeks before it was fixed with the correct spelling. This business has a great location, and I am sure that it is a fantastic new salon, yet I immediately wrote them off because of the obvious spelling mistake in their large advertisement sign. I now worry about the potential sales this new business might lose because of their obvious spelling mistake.
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Thanks for the shout out! Haha.
My group last year was awful at their mental math, so we were doing lots of mad minutes to start off class and get their brains moving. They still talk about doing them in class and want to do them again in grade 8. How much it helped? Unsure. But we made it fun and if it helps a few students pick up some of their skills then I think it is still a win.
I am on the same boat as you when it comes to tech integration and uses in the classroom. There is still a place for “old school” in school, but also lots of room for technology enrichment. One key thing about this debate is they do not need to exist exclusively, rather inclusive pedagogy makes a world of difference.
Fingers crossed you are a connected educator next year. Let me know how it goes!!
Thanks for the shoutout! I am glad that the blog tip was helpful. I never know how much to post in terms of ‘blog tips’ and if they are actually useful or more annoying. There’s probably a ton of people that want to say ‘quiet already’, so I am glad that there are a few people that are finding them helpful, for sure.
I too was intrigued by the Taylor Swift opening. And boy, it didn’t disappoint. A balance of ‘old school’ and ‘new school’ is key. We cannot assume that basic skills are on their way out and that they are no longer important. Making those decisions on behalf of our students is unethical, and sets them up for failure in the future. Do I think that kids should sit in their rooms and spend hours learning the multiplication tables? Not at all. The role of the teacher is to make learning engaging and sometimes even fun. We can teach students in fun ways and don’t have to teach in a traditional way to learn basic skills. Great post!