17 Apr 2018

“An Essential Method of Writing” by Trinity Wood

“An Essential Method of Writing”
by Trinity Wood, CCS Freshman

The foundation of the elegant writing method known as longhand, or cursive, originated in the lands of Ancient Rome. Historians consider the Romans to have been influential in the development of written script, as they used it to record purchases and messages. Their script has become the foundation of modern day cursive. The term cursive derives from the eighteenth century
Italian word corvino, which itself originated from currere, a Latin term meaning “to hasten, or run”. (Cohen)

Taught consistently more than fifty years ago, the general longhand curriculum instructed students in a foundational understanding of handwriting, such as the proper way to hold a pencil and how to engage the whole arm in writing movements. This reduces the strain on the motor region of the cortex over finger control. The brain is often confused by the many various ways to write a single letter, but with the proper technique, handwriting becomes easier for students and more legible. (Klemm) However, children presently grip pencils in uncontrollable ways and are incorrectly taught to control writing movements with only their fingers. By supporting the skill of cursive, we can effectively reduce the number of students who have an incorrect comprehension of handwriting. This can lead to more legible and confident work that is produced by students.

Some would argue that electronic devices provide a benefit of convenience to education.While that is most likely true, technology can easily become an unreliable, flawed crutch for lackadaisical students. When students depend solely on technology to complete their work, they feel it acceptable to procrastinate and forego the schoolwork until the last moment. But if technology fails them the day before the assignment is due, the students have no ability to handwrite because they lack a rooted understanding of it. Therefore, in this technologically-apt day and age, retaining a knowledge of cursive handwriting has never been so valuable. This knowledge leads to psychological development, academic success, and a healthy self-image.

Handwriting aids students with brain development and cognitive activity. When a person handwrites, they stimulate three specific regions of their cerebral cortex that are used for skills including language, reasoning, memory, and thinking. (Klemm) Handwriting is proven to exercise the cerebral cortex more effectively than typing. The skill of hand-eye coordination is also exercised by writing in cursive. Dr. William Klemm explains: “The thinking level is magnified in cursive because the specific hand-eye coordination requirements are different for every letter in the alphabet” (Klemm).

Even people who suffer from learning disabilities, such as dyslexia and dysgraphia, can be aided by practicing the skill of cursive. The fluid motion that is associated with cursive can calm those with special needs and is proven to be easier to learn than print writing. Klemm goes on to state: “Moreover, in handwriting the movements are continuously variable, which is much more mentally demanding than making single strokes, as in printing A, E, F, H, and so on. Even so, because cursive letters are more distinct than printed letters, children may learn to read more easily, especially dyslexics” (Klemm). Regardless of a person’s learning ability, cursive is a useful tool in the development of a learner’s sensory-motor skill.

Two key components of academic success are a positive attitude and healthy motivation. Cursive is an efficient way by which students can write confidently and coherently. This motivates these students to work hard, resulting in an improvement in their academics. Cursive is vital, especially for students with struggling grades. When a struggling student attains an achievement in one area of their academics, this victory unlocks potential for success in another subject. The presence of an accomplishment in a student’s life, where accomplishments are scarce, can boost the morale of the student and provide self-confidence. In 2013, Suzanne Asherson, an occupational therapist, wrote:

Interestingly, a few years ago, the College Board found that students who wrote in cursive for the essay portion of the SAT scored slightly higher than those who printed, which experts believe is because the speed and efficiency of writing in cursive allowed the students to focus on the content of their essay. (Asherson)

Writing in cursive not only provides speed but assurance that valid content is being recorded. Investigations have been carried out to compare the performances of students who handwrite their notes and students who type their notes. In 2014, analysts Daniel Oppenheimer and Pam Mueller led a study titled “The Pen Is Mightier than the Keyboard”. Students who handwrote their notes achieved higher scores, the cause of this being that they absorbed the presented information (Muller and Oppenheimer). Oppenheimer and Mueller noticed that the majority of typed notes were duplicates of the given material. The study proved that the students who typed lacked a rooted understanding of the information, and therefore, writing notes by hand is a process that allows for fuller comprehension (CursiveLogic). It provides the student time to meditate on each word and determine which points in the lecture are essential and valuable, which will greatly assist them in tests based on the material. Instead of constantly choosing the easiest route, Business Insider tells readers: “By slowing down the process of taking notes, you accelerate learning” (Baer).

It is possible that the most attractive benefit of cursive lies with the subject of self-image.Inside children, and adults alike, lies a yearning to express their creativity and unique persona. Cursive is an adaptable outlet for that desire, like a coloring book! Students should be provided with opportunities to communicate their individuality in education. Pupils learn self-discipline,
determination, and focus through longhand. Rather than being pressured by teachers to grasp the art of cursive, students acquire it for themselves. To encourage independence and self- confidence, many teachers that continue to teach cursive today use a method that allows their students to explore their own strengths and weaknesses. The teachers first demonstrate the basics of cursive that have resided for years, then they show the outcome of years of practice. This excites the students, emboldens them, and encourages them to work hard on their cursive curriculum, as they know they will gradually improve. The self-discipline and focus that is being learned at an early age can assist pupils in their personal lives. It improves the possibility of achievement with strong-work ethic and self-confidence.

The various benefits of longhand show us that one method of recording words, such as typing, should not be taught at the expense of the other. The art of cursive is a deeply-rooted cultural tradition of our nation. Government scribes had to cultivate a habit of writing in quick, legible manner, as they recorded gatherings between government officials and copied important documents. The updated Common Core guidelines of 2010, which are supported by forty-five states, do not demand a student’s knowledge for cursive anymore. (Klemm) Today, educational policymakers are confronted with the twenty-first century, an era in which longhand appears to be outdated. As those living in this age, we tend to get caught up in the efficiency of technology. However, we are oblivious to the numerous aids that handwriting brings as well, all of which can affect both the student life and the adult life. Handwriting remains reliable to this day, whereas technology will never be fully reliable. The skill of cursive is a graceful and beneficial tool that has the ability to aid many students, including those with struggling grades or special needs, and prepare them for future challenges.

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