As an educator of 35 years and former Midway Elementary School principal, Carol Goings said the rigor in academic curriculum has increased since the new Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS) was implemented last year and educators are now spending less time teaching essential handwriting skills as the focus shifts more toward technology.
“It is important that students learn to write in cursive because they are expected to use primary sources in research projects. Many primary resources including historical documents, diaries and letters are written in cursive,” said Goings, who now serves as the instructional specialist for the Baldwin County public school system. “If students are not able to write cursive then they will have difficulty reading documents written in cursive.”
The CCGPS state that students in kindergarten, first and second grades should print upper- and lower-case letters, create documents with legible handwriting and proper spacing between words. Fourth and fifth graders should be able to write legibly in cursive.
“The CCGPS writing standards for fifth-grade state that, with some guidance and support from adults, students should use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of two pages in a single sitting,” Goings said.
Georgia College senior Melissa Little is currently finishing up her studies in early childhood education and hopes to have a longtime career teaching youth in kindergarten through second grade levels. Though she is instructed to include a greater emphasis on technology in her future lesson plans, Little said there is no reason cursive writing and having good penmanship should be disregarded in the classroom.
“Penmanship is extremely important, especially in kindergarten where I student teach. While some people no longer value cursive or think it has a place in schools today, I disagree. Learning to write in cursive is a useful skill to make handwriting more formal and also to write more quickly. Learning to read cursive will always be important so people can interpret older writings and documents,” she said. “Our standards require that our class use technology to publish some sort of work, so I think using technology is extremely important. The children of today will need to become leaders in the future when technology is even more prevalent than it is today. These children will need to be very fluent in their use of technology and fast-learners of different types of software and programs, which is why many teachers try to incorporate technology often in their classrooms.”
Tactile learners would also be affected in the future if good penmanship instruction is not stressed, said Little.
“Many kinesthetic learners need to experience the physical forming of letters in order to get a good grasp on letter recognition, so I think many children could really struggle without good penmanship instruction. Some children may do very well without that instruction, though,” she said. “Part of me fears that, with too much focus on technology, a barrier could form in the future that would make people unable to read old documents, letters and other writings that existed prior to the digital age.”
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