Blog powered by Typepad

« Modified dignified climbdown | Main | This morning hour »


Wow that is the second time today I have read something about standardized tests. Our privately owned award wining book store that just won bookseller of the year is having a professor from local university give a presentation on his new book entitled:"

“Collateral Damage: How High-Stakes Testing Corrupts America’s Schools "

"About the Book: David Berliner argues that high-stakes testing, mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act, compromises education. In his new book with co-author Sharon Nichols, Berliner writes that the pressures of high-stakes testing lead to corruption -- increased cheating among both teachers and students -- and deprive students of a well-rounded education."

Coincidence or chance or something paranormal? Just read this email this morning, now Michael posts something on testing. Testing focuses on results not process. Fundamental mental error in American industry and schools.

A results oriented society will surely lose ground to a process oriented society. Best kept secret in the world. America educators would do well to the study the Japanese concept of Kaizen.


In my opinion, not teaching longhand is not such a bad thing. Like me, most people have very poor handwriting. Early in my career as an insurance adjuster, I frequently had to take handwritten statements from people involved in accidents. I would write their words for them and they would sign it. My handwriting was so bad, that I moved to printing and, except for my signature, I have stayed with it. Moreover, in my career in insurance claims, I frequently had to read medical records. As you probably know, doctors are notorious for their poor handwriting. It would be an improvement if doctors would print their notes.

On the subject of education, I've read several articles lately on how America is lagging in science education. I'm thinking this might be a good thing. We've advanced too quickly in science and, as I see it, that is at the root of most of society's problems.

I doubt that science education is the problem but ignorance is. Technology advancements can help a society cope with a multitude of problems. It is when we misuse technology due to our ignorance and aggressive behavior that can create problems. I suspect you may have meant the misuse of technology.

If for any reason someone pulls the plug, causing all computers, networks, servers, and the Internet itself to be powered down, perhaps there will be a resurgence in the manufacturing of manual typewriters and associated products -- ribbons, white-out, and so on.

The great advantage of cursive writing is speed, of course, and who will have the patience to laboriously print everything?

This could be a growth opportunity in the 'peak oil' scenario!


I switched to printing when I couldn't read my longhand. My Dad guided me to take a calligraphy course, where my final project was a big chart of the History of the Alphabet. It was Eleven columns starting with Egyptian Hieroglyphic, and there is an odd similarity of our "modern letters" to the ancient Egyptian. Cursive is fine if it's done well, it also helps to be a Girl. But, you know, calligraphy is mostly printing, fancy as it may look, it's still letter by letter. And our calligraphy instructor did begin by telling us that he thought cursive was bad because it lets us write too fast and sloppy (unless you're a girl). He also thought the ballpoint pen was nasty. Oh well, I got asked to make signs for people, and I was the only guy in the entire class (yep, more girls). Hey, Mike, you might want to sign up for a calligraphy course . . . .

Contra an earlier post, but I've always found printing to be speedier than cursive. The last essay I wrote in cursive was my first High School effort (we start High School in year 8 here in Australia) and I remember an aching hand and vowing never to write an essay in cursive ever again.

However that being said I developed my own fluid style of print, usually rounding my letters in a manner similar to cursive. And here in my home state of Queensland my children are being taught a similar printing style, which has cursive "flourishes" that make print easier and quicker without the wasteful connective curves between the letters.

Finally most writing throughout history has been in "block letters". Cursive, I suspect, is a late European invention adapted to the peculiarities of non-ballpoint pens of the last couple of centuries. With typewriters and word-processors it began to seem more and more anachronistic. Fluid texts are a feature of many written languages but endless connective curves are both pointless and wasteful of ink.

Anyone sharing opinions on handwriting needs to keep this in mind:
Good handwriting does *not* equal “writing in cursive.”

According to a 1998 paper in the Journal of Educational Research (citation below), the fastest and most legible handwriters ignore about half of what makes cursive “cursive.” Specifically:

The fastest handwriters (and especially the fastest LEGIBLE handwriters) …

/a/ join only some letters, not all of them — using only the easiest joins, skipping the rest —


/b/ use some cursive and some printed letter-shapes. In other words, where printed and cursive letters seriously “disagree” in shape (capitals and many lower-case letters), the highest-speed highest-legibility handwriters tend to use the printed form and not bother with the cursive version.

The same research also shows that cursive writers don’t write any faster than print-writers of equal legibility: the betwixt-and-between print/cursive hybridizers beat out both the "printers" and the "cursivists," in legibility and even in speed.

Graham, S., Berninger, V., & Weintraub, N. (1998). The relationship between handwriting style and speed and quality. Journal of Educational Research, volume 91, issue number 5, (May/June 1998), pages 290-297.

Posted by:
Kate Gladstone —
Director, World Handwriting Contest
CEO, Handwriting Repair

The comments to this entry are closed.