EDUCATION MATTERS COLUMN BY RON MARKS
Does it really matter if our son or daughter can write (cursive write) legibly? Over the years we have all heard the pros and cons for writing. The argument against cursive writing is based on computer technology and the fact that young people are experts in texting. Some would say writing is archaic and not necessary in this digital age. I want to believe this but frankly I do not agree that cursive writing is a skill of the past nor do I think it should be.
Harry W. Pope, in his article titled “The Write Stuff – In Today’s Digital World, is handwriting becoming a lost art?” printed in the April 2014 issue of ‘Parents Canada,’ quotes a University of British Columbia study conducted by Marianne McTavish, a professor who specializes in language and literacy education.
The study had a surprising finding and I quote from Pope’s article, “Students were required to complete various writing tasks on a computer by hand. The results showed that children who write will not only have better confidence and self-esteem, but also demonstrate far better concentration and an increased ability to express themselves creatively.”
Pope also references the importance of handwriting in many jobs. He writes “While job descriptions do not specify this, those in health care, engineering, research, advertising, journalism, security and law enforcement all depend heavily on this skill.”
Another positive attribute resulting from cursive writing is in brain development. Research indicates that printing uses one side of the brain and writing uses the other side of the brain. When we take notes in handwriting mode, we use both sides of the brain and we find it easier to retain the information that we are writing because we are using both sides of our brain.
Fortunately cursive writing is still being taught in school. My concern is that although writing is being taught, it is not a skill that is being perfected and used often enough as our children go through elementary, middle and senior high school.
We all know the saying “use it or lose it” when it comes to muscle memory or second languages and, unfortunately, cursive writing is the same.
Recently I learned that parents are making sure that their children learn to write. There are lots of resources to help make this happen and I encourage all parents to stress the importance of handwriting. Cursive writing continues to be relevant today and in the future. Let’s make certain our children know how to write.
An education advocate, Ron Marks has been an outspoken member of local and regional school boards and is a former Stellarton mayor. His column runs weekly.