Cursive penmanship is becoming a casualty of the digital age. Last year, of the nearly 1.5 million high-school students who took the SAT, only 15 percent used cursive on the essay portion, according to the College Board.Research shows that the students who wrote in cursive on the SAT scored slightly higher. No word on if it was because they were faster writers and better thinkers, or whether scorers were too lazy to decipher the scrawl, and decided it was probably by a smartypants anyway and thus worth a better score.
Under pressure to meet testing standards, teachers are devoting less time to penmanship practice. A 2003 survey of primary teachers by Vanderbilt University found that the average classroom gets fewer than 10 minutes a day of penmanship instruction.
In Washington, state standards allow printing or cursive, as long as it is legible. Local districts start teaching cursive in the primary grades. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction also encourages districts to offer initial keyboarding instruction in the kindergarten through eighth grade.
Most students master basic keyboard skills, which students and educators nationwide say are increasingly taking precedence over pen and paper.
Three years ago, Grace Bratzel, a 15-year-old freshman at Christ's Household of Faith school in St. Paul, won a national cursive penmanship competition with 130,000 entrants. But today, she said, she mostly prints or uses a computer.
"Cursive is prettier and more artistic, but manuscript is more natural and instinctive," she said. "When it's really important, I write on the computer so the teachers don't judge the work on how it's presented."
Apr 15, 2007
cursive going the way of the quill
In what's becoming an annual quillblogging tradition, I direct the reader to another lament for the lost art of scrivenizing.