The lost art of handwriting

Does your school teach script writing?

I guess I haven’t been paying attention, because it slipped me that my daughter should have been learning how to write script since 2nd grade. She’s now in 4th, and hasn’t learned yet. I remember thinking in 2nd grade that it should be happening soon, but she was having so much trouble just doing print, that we were focused on that, and eventually got her evaluated by an occupational therapist because her handwriting was not improving through our own intervention at home. Part of the problem is that up to now, she still holds her pencil the wrong way to write. Why is that? Because no one taught her the right way to hold one. Part of the blame for that lies on me, but part of it is  because no one teaches handwriting anymore.

When I was a kid, penmanship was part of the curriculum. And not just during the times when we were tracing over the dots. Penmanship was part of my grade in every subject, so there was an incentive to concentrate on  forming letters properly. Teachers wrote about my penmanship in my report card. One once wrote that my letters were too large, which made me change my handwriting, and according to my parents, ruined my lovely natural script, something they tell me I never regained. My parents never forgave that teacher for ruining my handwriting, and I still have feelings of inadequacy about my lettering. But that was a different time, right?

Today kids are doing a lot of their work on the computer. So typing is more important than writing. Only, some schools don’t teach students how to type. But on some standardized tests, kids are asked to write long constructed response answers, in which case, their penmanship could cost them points on the overall score. But penmanship isn’t being taught, and a lot of kids (and adults) hold their pencils incorrectly. For the record, it should look like this:

My daughter, like many other people, still holds it this way:

On an education blog, someone asked recently, “if schools aren’t teaching typing, and they aren’t teaching penmanship, what are they teaching?” And my answer was, “they’re teaching how to fill in bubbles.”

The fact is, with all of the concentration on text-taking and text-scores, some fundamentals are being left in the dust. The Common Core Curriculum has eliminated script from the standards, so now schools don’t feel they have to teach it. Pretty soon, script is going to be like hieroglyphics, with only specialized people knowing how to read it. Should a basic like penmanship become obsolete through neglect?

For the record, I picked up  copies of the Zaner-Bloser handwriting books, and have started to work with my daughter at home.

Full disclosure: I am on the board of trustees of a charter school. This post does not reflect the opinions of the board. It is entirely my own opinion.

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