5 Comments

  1. In our English III/US History course, one of my students chose to do her unit project about cursive in schools. She typed it out first (because “drafting and feedback are way more efficient with technology”), and then wrote her final draft in cursive to be delivered (because “if I email or deliver a typed letter my medium doesn’t match my message”). Many of the points she made were similar to the ones made in your 2011 post, and many of those are valid still. (Coincidentally she wrote this two months ago in Illinois and the law just passed and neither one of us knew it was in the works.) But yes, the time frame stays the same as the demands increase, and she struggled to come up with an explanation for what it should “replace.” In addition to learning content skills (in subjects from tech to math to reading and writing to career, etc,) our students need writing delivery skills (I.e. handwriting, cursive, typing, voiceover, speaking, etc.) and all of that takes lots of time. My kids struggle to read my pseudo cursive as well and my solution has been to write differently (either print on the board or type to accommodate them). So my questions are these: Should we spend the time teaching them to write cursive so that they can read it when many of use use a hybrid print-cursive which is of our own style anyway? Or should we adapt to the changing world and write differently — abandon our ways for theirs? Or because we can’t make everyone adapt and our kids need to read historical documents/letters from grandma (even though grandma is probably on Facebook now), should we create a technology that “translates” it for them? I struggle to say, as a teacher in Illinois with children in the Illinois system, that I want a lot of time spent on cursive when it would have been phased out within the next two generations and my children’s children would have even less of a reason to need to read it. Often when we free up time in the day for innovation (I.e. AJ Juliani’s genius hour), we come out with better learning in the end. If we keep adding more “old tech” (cursive) in, what innovation will we lose? I fear that more than vocabulary are at stake, and vocabulary acquisition alone is already a major loss.

    Your post from 2011 and my student’s letter are grounded in research, but that research hasn’t changed or really been added to, hence the fact that we’re reading a 2011 blog post as the response to the same question today. Conversely, there are innumerable new posts and research out there to say that our time should be spent doing (insert countless really important future skills and even more we can’t imagine yet). I think the premise of this conversation is pretty symbolic in itself.

  2. Shirley Prieto

    The time frame limitations are what all stakeholders need to understand and address with each change they advocate. I recall our district administration publicizing how they wanted to incorporate foreign language instruction into the school day. Speaking three languages myself, I am an advocate, but challenged the administration to come up with what the “give-ups” in learning would be, so as to fit the school day. I received a terse response about how they had just been toying with the idea, but I had been a teacher long enough to know administration typically introduces things without addressing the limited time issue.

  3. Hi George,
    Those conversations definitely need to happen. As education evolves, pressure is building inside our current structure, and the push back is very hard on students and teachers.

    I really don’t think that solutions are that complicated. Here is an example of a possible course of action. I wrote about in a blog post in January 2016: https://wp.me/p5Z41J-1x What would it take to make this happen? What would the roadblocks be? What kind of impact would this small change have on students and teachers?

    Thanks again for getting the gears turning!

  4. Christina Green

    Hi George, I love this conversation! After reading everything here and in your prior post, here’s my question… while I agree that it is important to incorporate new technology in education, and I agree that we cannot keep adding and piling on kids what we want them to learn, what about what is developmentally appropriate from a neurological standpoint? If everything we teach kids is building brain pathways, maybe its not about teaching all kids everything from the earliest ages… maybe we can structure the learning to coincide with their neurological development, with one skill building upon another. It just seems silly to keep asking kids at younger and younger ages to be able to do things just because society and culture think that’s what they should be learning. What about starting where their brain is, and support from there. There is a hierarchy of skills neurologically, and fine motor skills is on that list. So, maybe let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater….

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