Opinion
Curriculum Letter to the Editor

Handwriting Is Still Alive and Well

February 21, 2012 1 min read

Head of School The Windward School

The article “Experts Fear Handwriting Will Become a Lost Art,” (Jan. 25, 2012) reported that while experts fear handwriting is becoming a lost art, a summit was held in Washington, D.C., to make a case for teaching handwriting. This is not the first time that handwriting has been given up for dead.

In the Feb. 13, 2009, issue of Newsweek, an article titled “The Curse of Cursive” predicted the doom of writing in longhand: “Penmanship, like hieroglyphics and the IBM Selectric, has lost its purpose. Let’s erase it for good.” Another piece, “The Handwriting Is on the Wall,” published in 2006 in The Washington Post‘s Higher Education blog, claims that many teachers are not concerned about the drop in the use of cursive, while scholars point to research that shows children without proficient handwriting skills produce simpler, shorter compositions.

With populist outcries for doing away with cursive and with apparent teacher apathy toward its demise, it is time to examine the evidence that supports the teaching of handwriting in our schools.

Unfortunately, students are receiving less and less instruction in handwriting. Vanderbilt University professor Steve Graham found in 2003 that primary grade teachers spent less than 10 minutes a day on handwriting. He found the decline in the instruction of handwriting and its diminished use by students is not because handwriting has lost its purpose; it is due to a lack of teacher preparation, as a majority of teachers admitted they had no training and no curriculum materials for it.

To paraphrase Mark Twain: Reports of the death of handwriting are exaggerations. Handwriting is alive and well at my school and others where instructional practice is informed by the research and supported by a comprehensive professional-development program that includes strategies for teaching handwriting. There is clear evidence that handwriting is an important tool in the acquisition of reading and writing skills and should be part of every language arts program.

John J. Russell

Head of School

The Windward School

White Plains, N.Y.

A version of this article appeared in the February 22, 2012 edition of Education Week as Handwriting Is Still Alive and Well

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Professional Development Webinar
Building Leadership Excellence Through Instructional Coaching
Join this webinar for a discussion on instructional coaching and ways you can link your implement or build on your program.
Content provided by Whetstone Education/SchoolMint
Teaching Webinar Tips for Better Hybrid Learning: Ask the Experts What Works
Register and ask your questions about hybrid learning to our expert panel.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Families & the Community Webinar
Family Engagement for Student Success With Dr. Karen Mapp
Register for this free webinar to learn how to empower and engage families for student success featuring Karen L. Mapp.
Content provided by Panorama Education & PowerMyLearning

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Superintendent, Coeur d'Alene Public Schools
Coeur D'Alene, Idaho
Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates
Director of Headstart
New Haven, CT, US
New Haven Public Schools
Director of Headstart
New Haven, CT, US
New Haven Public Schools
Supervising Behavior Analyst (BCBA)
Weston, Florida, United States
Camelot Education

Read Next

Curriculum Leader To Learn From Taking an Unapologetic Approach to Curriculum Overhaul
An academic leader at a charter school has overhauled curriculum—and proved that instructional rigor and anti-racism can co-exist.
11 min read
Danielle Kelsick, Chief Academic Officer for the Environmental Charter Schools in Redondo Beach, Calif.
Danielle Kelsick, Chief Academic Officer for the Environmental Charter Schools in Redondo Beach, Calif.
Nick Agro for Education Week
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Whitepaper
Survey: Increased ebook usage & value amid COVID-19
With COVID-19 altering nearly all aspects of daily life, including the way students learn, this survey sought insight from those on the f...
Content provided by OverDrive
Curriculum Opinion Ian Rowe Discusses 1776 Unites and His Efforts to Promote a Vision of a Unified America
Ian Rowe, co-founder of 1776 Unites, discusses the initiative and its efforts to promote pathways to opportunity for Americans of all races.
7 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Curriculum From ‘Stunning’ to ‘Surprising’: How News of the Capitol Attack Was Repackaged for Schools
Experts criticized ed-tech company Newsela for sugarcoating the violent insurrection when it adapted an Associated Press story for schools.
6 min read
A man dressed as George Washington and holding a Trump flag kneels and prays near the Washington Monument on Jan. 6.
A man dressed as George Washington and holding a Trump flag kneels and prays near the Washington Monument on Jan. 6.
Carolyn Kaster/AP