Letter: Our Handwriting Problems

To the Editor:

Regarding the “The Craft of Writing” editorial of April 11, the handwriting problems we now face are:

∎ Too little time to include solid instruction in “cursive,” the method that joins all letters within words.

∎ A misunderstanding of fine motor skills. Images of children practicing their cursive show tense, contorted pencil holds. They are not learning fine motor control.

Currently, the most common method in the U.S. is this: First, children learn to make letters with strokes that start at their tops and move in specified ways. Then we undo motor memory in order to learn a different alphabet. Letter shapes and stroke directions change in order to create joins. Please see a graphic explanation, “When Cursive Doesn’t Work” at http://www.bfhhandwriting.com/blog.

Writing by hand has been proved to be of greater cognitive benefit than keyboarding. But research does not actually specify a method of handwriting.

Secondary considerations:

∎ One can easily learn to read cursive without learning to write it. I have taught this to young children. Of course all significant documents are to be found on the Internet.

∎ The “signature” arguments hold no water. I have a nice signature, but never learned the cursive method that is now threatened with extinction.

Nan Jay Barchowsky

Aberdeen, Md.


Editorial: The Craft of Writing

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

We suppose we should have seen it coming, but count us as shocked and dismayed to learn that cursive handwriting is disappearing from the American public school curriculum. According to an Associated Press story that appeared in Tuesday’s Valley News, instruction in penmanship is dying out, collateral damage from the twin explosions of digital technology and standardized testing. “It’s seeing …