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wednesday word up ________________________________________________________________

I saw this in the Washington Post...

the demise of handwriting will diminish the power and accuracy of future historical research. And others simply lament the loss of handwritten communication for its beauty, individualism and intimacy.

"It's like so many other things in our society -- there's a sense of loss for what once was," said Laura B. Smolken, a professor of elementary education and early childhood development at the University of Virginia.

At Keene Mill Elementary in Springfield, Debbie Mattocks teaches cursive once a week to her gifted-and-talented group of third-graders -- mainly so they can read it. All their poems and stories are typed. Children in Fairfax County schools are taught keyboarding beginning in kindergarten.

"I can't think of any other place you need cursive as an adult other than to sign your name," she said. "Cursive -- that is so low on the priority list, we really could care less. We are much more concerned that these kids pass their SOLs [standardized tests], and that doesn't require a bit of cursive."

Older students who never mastered handwriting say it doesn't affect their grades. "A lot of kids have just awful handwriting. . . . Teachers don't take off points for poor handwriting," said Matt Paragamian, a 10th-grader at St. Albans School in Northwest Washington. Many of his classmates take notes in class on their own laptops and do homework on computers.

Until the 1970s, penmanship was a separate daily lesson through sixth grade, said Dennis Williams, national product manager for Zaner-Bloser Handwriting, the most widely used penmanship curriculum. At its peak in the 1940s and '50s, most teachers insisted on as much as two hours a week, but a 2003 Vanderbilt University survey of primary-grade teachers found that most now spend 10 minutes a day or less on the subject. To adapt to this new reality, the Zaner-Bloser method has been changed to a 15-minute daily plan.

In Montgomery County, schools "don't have separate handwriting instruction for handwriting's sake," said spokesman Brian Edwards. Only a handful of schools in Prince George's County teach handwriting. Fairfax educators struggle to include penmanship.

posted by wrangler steve at Wednesday, October 11, 2006 >1 comments


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