Education

More News | |

Richmond County school board addresses handwriting skills

Board weighs more focus on handwriting

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 11:27 PM
Last updated 11:29 PM
  • Follow Education

A 19-year-old woman who testified in the Trayvon Martin murder trial last year gained international attention when she was unable to read a letter handed to her in court because it was written in cursive.

The Richmond County Board of Education is surveying elementary schools to learn how cursive is being taught.  FILE/STAFF
FILE/STAFF
The Richmond County Board of Education is surveying elementary schools to learn how cursive is being taught.

Yet full mastery of a once fundamental skill has be­come less common since national standards adopted by most states do not require the instruction.

Even in Georgia, a state that added cursive to third- and fourth-grade Common Core Standards in 2011, less time is dedicated to teaching the skill, as teachers are burdened with growing instructional requirements in higher-stakes subjects.

“I know a child getting ready to go into the sixth grade that can’t write it at all,” said Richmond County Board of Education President Venus Cain. “They can’t sign their name, and that’s really bad.”

With growing concerns about the demise of basic handwriting skills, the Rich­mond County Board of Edu­cation’s instruction committee on Tuesday directed staff to survey elementary school principals to find out how much time is dedicated to cursive and how it is being taught.

According to the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards, cursive is introduced in third grade and students should write legibly by fourth grade.

However, because it is not tested, the way it is incorporated into the curriculum is really up to the teacher, said April Benson, a fifth-grade teacher at Diamond Lakes Elementary School.

Benson said she integrates cursive as much as possible with her fifth-graders, even though it is not required by the state standards past fourth grade.

“When I’m doing a writing workshop or small-group instruction, we work on it then,” said Benson, who previously taught third and fourth grades. “It’s really, really hard. You only have so many hours in the day. You have lunch and (physical education), music and you still want to be able to do everything else that needs to be done. You have to get creative in how you teach.”

Cheri Ogden, the principal of Sue Reynolds Elementary School, said third- and fourth-grade teachers incorporate cursive instruction into lessons in other subjects but do not have time dedicated to it alone.

“Cursive is addressed through other content areas,” Ogden said. “We don’t carve out a time each day like we used to. In social studies they may be doing research where they write about a famous person, in language arts they might write a response to literature in essay answers – even in math now there’s an amazing amount of writing.”

Rickey Lumpkin, the principal at Wilkinson Gardens Elementary School, said the same is done at his school. With standardized tests focused on math, reading, social studies, science and language arts, and new teacher evaluations being partially based on those scores, Lumpkin said those areas must be educators’ priorities.

“There are only X amount of minutes in a day,” Lumpkin said. “Cursive writing is something that our parents and their generation had to communicate, where the child of today doesn’t necessarily have that as their only means of communication. I have some beautiful letters that my wife wrote me when I was in the military telling me about her love and how much she missed me, but today, I don’t think I would have gotten those letters.”

Board member Barbara Pulliam said she wants to ensure the skill is being emphasized in elementary grades so the school system is not producing high school students who cannot sign their names.

On Tuesday, the board said they expect a response from the surveys by next month’s meeting to evaluate how to remediate students who might not have mastered cursive.

“I know this is the age of technology, but let’s not forget basic education,” Pulliam said. “If you look at any legal document, it’s something you need. Your signature is unique to you.”

Comments (28) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
triscuit
2831
Points
triscuit 04/16/14 - 12:13 am
3
0
I'd just be happy if the kids

I'd just be happy if the kids could print. I know college students who write like 8 yr olds.

corgimom
27462
Points
corgimom 04/16/14 - 12:31 am
4
1
I learned in 3rd grade. It

I learned in 3rd grade. It wasn't hard. We did a little every day.

As for the 6th grader that can't sign their name, where has their parents been all that time?

Whatever happened to the idea that ultimately, parents were responsible for their child's education, and if their classroom teaching wasn't sufficient, or they needed more practice, the parents worked with the child until they learned what they needed to know?

Riverman1
79153
Points
Riverman1 04/16/14 - 05:48 am
3
3
Pen and Paper Obsolete

With Google Glass, voice recognition and smart phones, cursive seems like a waste of time. Pen and paper will be obsolete soon.

Pops
6746
Points
Pops 04/16/14 - 06:37 am
6
1
The witness in the

Martin case not only couldn't read cursive, she was barely able to communicate verbally.

lovingthesouth72
1362
Points
lovingthesouth72 04/16/14 - 09:06 am
6
0
All around deficient

Lets also address the demise in speaking, reading, spelling, manners, and all around character formation and we should be able to turn thing around.

Little Lamb
43813
Points
Little Lamb 04/16/14 - 10:07 am
4
0
PC

At the risk of sounding politically insensitive, allow me to observe that back in the "good ole days" when Corgimom and I learned cursive in the 3rd grade, there were some people who didn't have the desire to do well in any academic subjects, including handwriting. Could it be that there are more (percentagewise) people today who don't have the desire to do well than there were in the good ole days? Maybe, maybe not.

Instead of surveying principals on how many hours their teachers are spending teaching cursive (a ridiculous survey, in my opinion), I suggest the school board just let the teachers teach and let the chips fall where they may. We should not wring our hands over children and adults who do not desire to master cursive writing.

deestafford
23442
Points
deestafford 04/16/14 - 10:50 am
7
1
The younguns can't write, but....

The younguns can't write, but they can put a condom on a cucumber.

Young Fred
15724
Points
Young Fred 04/16/14 - 12:53 pm
3
0
deestafford

Priorities don't ya know!

Many students may not know how to read, write, or subtract, but by-golly, they know fruitification (in more ways than one)!

Mr. Thackeray
847
Points
Mr. Thackeray 04/16/14 - 02:11 pm
4
0
So here is one reason why

So here is one reason why they need to learn to write cursive. Those that go on to college will be taking notes on paper. I know, I know, tablets, lap tops etc. BUT they are not as fast as taking notes on paper and printing is too slow as well. I know of what I speak as I have had many students try electronic ways to capture notes in my classes and failed and recording a class is not a better solution either.

Little Lamb
43813
Points
Little Lamb 04/16/14 - 03:03 pm
3
0
Lecture Notes

Let's see a science major or engineering major try to type in those blackboard scratchings containing derivatives, integrals, differential equations, summations, all chock full of Greek alphabet letters.

You've got to learn to write fast and flexible to get a science or engineering degree.

But then, people who get science or engineering degrees are not who the story is talking about.

internationallyunknown
3932
Points
internationallyunknown 04/16/14 - 03:24 pm
1
4
Wasted brain space.

As I type this comment using Google Chrome, all of my misspelled words have been corrected without me having to think about the correct way of spelling them.

We communicate more electronically than traditionally, these days.

Handwriting and spelling will be obsolete soon!

Why waste brain space? This is a sign of the times....everything evolves.

internationallyunknown
3932
Points
internationallyunknown 04/16/14 - 03:25 pm
0
3
Miss Jentel

She speaks 3 languages....
How many do you speak?

Young Fred
15724
Points
Young Fred 04/16/14 - 03:41 pm
3
0
internationally

You sound like my child or Austin Rhodes, trying to make the argument that we don't "need" algebra. Next thing you know, you'll be arguing we spend too much time teaching math because that's what calculators are for!

Did you not see the two posts before yours?

At one point In the past, cursive writing was taught at a very young age because it was shown to help with reading.

LillyfromtheMills
12488
Points
LillyfromtheMills 04/16/14 - 04:24 pm
2
0
I think we're going

Backwards - just sign your name with an X.

internationallyunknown
3932
Points
internationallyunknown 04/16/14 - 05:52 pm
1
2
Youngin Fred

Too bad you are stuck on emotions to understand exactly what was typed.

internationallyunknown
3932
Points
internationallyunknown 04/16/14 - 05:54 pm
0
2
???

"At one point In the past, cursive writing was taught at a very young age because it was shown to help with reading"

Reading more helps with reading.

InChristLove
22417
Points
InChristLove 04/16/14 - 06:55 pm
1
0
I think Corgimom hit the nail

I think Corgimom hit the nail on the head. It's been many moons ago since I was in grade school but I sure can remember my mom making me sit at the table and practice my letters....over and over and over again.

Young Fred
15724
Points
Young Fred 04/16/14 - 07:07 pm
4
0
international

emotions? "handwriting and spelling will be obsolete soon! Why waste the brain space?"

Wow!

Pray tell, how do you use that extra "brain space" technology has opened up for you? More time on the X-box?

Going forward, who do you think will develop that new tech? I'm willing to bet they know how to read and write, but hey I'm just an old fuddy-duddy, what the heck do I know?

Young Fred
15724
Points
Young Fred 04/16/14 - 07:10 pm
1
0
"Reading more helps with

"Reading more helps with reading."

This we can agree on!

InChristLove
22417
Points
InChristLove 04/16/14 - 07:19 pm
1
0
Sad to think if we don't

Sad to think if we don't teach our children cursive writing so many ancient documents can never be read. Oh, we can tell them in text books what they say but to actually view the Declaration of Independence or the Bill of Rights to be able to actually read the words.....

stuaby
2847
Points
stuaby 04/16/14 - 08:36 pm
1
0
Get rid of it. Double it.

Get rid of it. Double it. Won't make any difference whatsoever. Absolutely none.

Geez.

Young Fred
15724
Points
Young Fred 04/16/14 - 09:19 pm
1
0
Get rid of it. Double it.

"Get rid of it. Double it. Won't make any difference whatsoever. Absolutely none.

Geez."

Really? That's what you believe? Man, CNBC sees you coming a mile away.

P.T.Barnum would be proud!

Riverman1
79153
Points
Riverman1 04/16/14 - 09:28 pm
0
1
Calligraphy Days Are Over

I write much better using a computer and a word processor. It's faster with many options and easily edited. Heck, if you want cursive just hit the font for it. We don't need calligraphic penmanship these days. As far as making notes for yourself, do that anyway you want if you are the only one reading it. I have a science degree and if the instructor tested off what he said in class I recorded his class and then typed my notes later. Worked beautifully.

Young Fred
15724
Points
Young Fred 04/16/14 - 10:06 pm
2
0
Riverman1

makes a great point. I'm not arguing against tech, just saying that tech can't replace basic skills.

I've got a new Ipad, still trying to figure out how it will make my life easier as advertised.

So far I'm not impressed, but I'm told "just give it time".

OK I'm giving "it" time, I'm still not impressed, But I assure you everyone I know tells me I'll be "blown away" and will never go back to the "old ways" of doing things. Hmmm that makes me skeptical from get go,,,,, but I will give it the "try".

dichotomy
30405
Points
dichotomy 04/16/14 - 10:34 pm
2
0
The dumbing down of America.

The dumbing down of America. Started about 40 years ago and, by golly, we're almost done.

mybaskett
218
Points
mybaskett 04/16/14 - 11:26 pm
0
0
The Constitution.....

If they can't write it, they can' t read it. The most important documents ever written were in cursive. This country will be lost forever if this generation can't read the Constitution or Bill of rights.

If there isn't time to work on this in class, make it a homework assignment.

Young Fred
15724
Points
Young Fred 04/16/14 - 11:28 pm
1
0
dichotomy hit the nail head

"The dumbing down of America. Started about 40 years ago and, by golly, we're almost done."

It is amazing to me that so many are willing to swallow whole! Not just swallow but to do it with a smile on their face!

I guess if you care not about facts and Are willing to accept anything put forth, why you would be considered a "team player".

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs