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To the Editor:

Thank you for highlighting the move many creative teachers are taking to risk teaching mathematics through a literature-based method. Such efforts should be applauded ("New Word Problems: Teachers Turning to Children's Literature To Help Teach Math,'' Oct. 6, 1993).

Recognizing the need for improving our students' competency in math, these teachers have begun to address the problem in a way that will allow many more children to make the connection between real life and math. This is a logical and long overdue step toward meeting the standards for math education detailed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. This approach makes the language of mathematics more perceivable as another form of communication.

The benefits of this seem to be many. Financially strapped schools are given alternatives to hiring math specialists, elementary teachers are given resources that draw upon their language-arts strengths, and, most importantly, more students leave school mathematically powerful. Is it any wonder that publications and workshops detailing this cross-disciplinary approach are in high demand?

Andre Y. Demian
Redwood Day School
Alameda, Calif.

To the Editor:

In your Oct. 6, 1993, issue, you published an article about handwriting that has many of your constituents hot under the collar ("D'Nealian Writing Method Helps Students Go From 'Balls and Sticks' to 'Tummies and Tails'''). The article extolled the wonders of a specific method of handwriting instruction, while totally ignoring one of the major causes of illegibility--loops. The method you highlighted in your two-page story contains LOOPS!

Have you ever noticed that every form you've ever filled out has these words, "PLEASE PRINT''? Why? Because illegible handwriting has become a major problem. Why? Because the programs used to teach penmanship contain loops (in the cursive form), and any program containing loops lends itself to problems with illegibility. When written quickly, the loops begin to get jumbled and become indistinguishable from one another.

Do you remember learning to print? Do you also remember trying to emulate the new cursive letters when they were introduced? Most people do remember. They remember being frustrated, angry, and having a multitude of other negative feelings. Why? Because those beautiful and intricately formed letters are very difficult to make.

Why not introduce your readers to a program that really is addressing the illegibility problem? A program that is based on natural, rhythmic hand movements, has no loops, and one in which the transition from printing to cursive is simple. The Italic Handwriting Series by Barbara Getty and Inga Dubay is just such a program. A glance at the letters themselves is usually all it takes to convince people that italic makes sense. (See box at left.)

Betty Edwards, the author of Learning To Draw on the Right Side of the Brain, says it best: "Inga Dubay and Barbara Getty deserve the thanks of every teacher and every parent. It's a breakthrough at last.''

Tena Spears
Editor
The Italic Handwriting Newsletter
Portland State University
Continuing Education Press
Portland, Ore.

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