How My Heart Sang When I Read Karin Schimke's Thoughts on "The Writing on the Wall Is Cursive", as Supported by Bunty McDougall's Letter, "Children Need Smarter Handwriting Teaching Methods" (Cape Times, August 31)

Cape Times (South Africa), September 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

How My Heart Sang When I Read Karin Schimke's Thoughts on "The Writing on the Wall Is Cursive", as Supported by Bunty McDougall's Letter, "Children Need Smarter Handwriting Teaching Methods" (Cape Times, August 31)


How my heart sang when I read Karin Schimke's thoughts on "The writing on the wall is cursive", as supported by Bunty McDougall's letter, "Children need smarter handwriting teaching methods" (Cape Times, August 31).

Yes, we need to "employ smarter handwriting teaching methods" and we also need teachers to seriously re-consider the way they are presently teaching handwriting skills in our schools.

The real reason why cursive writing has been abandoned is that the present system of teaching handwriting in most of our schools is so antiquated that it may as well not be taught. It starts in pre-primary schools where the child is not taught how to hold a pen or pencil properly or where to start when forming a letter. There is a discipline to writing and unless it is properly taught or corrected at an early age these bad habits can continue into adulthood.

In Grade 1 the child is taught the "ball and stick" method of writing. This rigid upright style is not only unsuitable for clumsy small hands but it is essentially a print script and does not lead naturally into cursive. Therefore in Grade 3 the child is taught a kind of pseudo copperplate cursive style of writing that does not relate to the ball and stick writing at all. In a survey in the 1990s we found this elaborate style with ascenders and descenders terminating in endless loops and swirls resulted in unintentional spelling mistakes ,became an illegible scrawl and did not promote speedy writing. …

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How My Heart Sang When I Read Karin Schimke's Thoughts on "The Writing on the Wall Is Cursive", as Supported by Bunty McDougall's Letter, "Children Need Smarter Handwriting Teaching Methods" (Cape Times, August 31)
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