My English classes in Grade Six will be the first set of pupils under the K-12 curriculum moving up to Grade 7 come March this school year. At this point, even while it is too early, I try to foresee the probable challenges and impact on their learning curve due to glaring difference the K-12 Curriculum introduces.
One observation I came up with is that learners find it hard copying or reading lessons written in cursive. I tried to rationalize that maybe it was their exposure to changing technology during their formative years in early grades. They were used to reading and seeing letters, words and sentences printed in block form. Or, maybe because of the current practice of the public schools wherein cursive writing is not given much importance as reflected in the curriculum.
This is in contrast with the teaching methods in the private schools wherein Writing is taken as a subject and Writing books are bought by the parents themselves for their children. Cursive writing is introduced to Grade One pupils in the second semester. I am not saying that we must do this in public school. My point is, cursive writing must be given that due importance even with the advancement in technology.
Teaching cursive writing is this important and vital.
It requires a very different skill set as compared with print writing. It involves using the hand muscles in a different way. Additionally, it activates a different part of the brain in contrast with regular writing. At the age level cursive is taught, around 7 or 8 years old, these skills can be very beneficial in strengthening motor skill development.
Pupils who find it hard reading or writing in cursive may have outgrown their writing in the block form which was their writing style in Grades One and Two. Introduction of cursive writing will be effective at the age of 8 to 9. Beyond that age bracket, they tend to get attached and become robotic in their writing in the block form. It becomes a challenge for the teacher to guide them to write in cursive especially when already in Grade Six. Could this be the reason they find it hard learning to write in cursive?
Aside from developing their hand muscles and activating special part of the brain, there are other reasons why we need to teach cursive writing. When students are taught the English alphabet in only one form, that is writing in print, they get only one method at learning and memorizing the letters. But by having them learn cursive as well, students get another opportunity to fully comprehend the alphabet. Learning cursive also gives children a clearer understanding of how letters are formed, that will improve their print writing as well.
Those with learning disabilities, specifically dyslexia, can have a very difficult time writing in print as many of the letters look similar, particularly b and d. Cursive letters, however, look very different from print letters. This gives dyslexic children a positive option — an option that can decrease their dyslexic tendencies and make them more confident in their abilities.
If our pupils are taught cursive writing, they will be able to connect with the past. They will be able to read, understand and appreciate old and important documents written in cursive.
We generally use cursive writing to sign our names, personal cheques and other important documents that we can not do using a computer.
By the way, in some countries like the United States, schools finally find its importance they are placing emphasis to restore cursive writing back into their curriculum. We need not be a copycat, but as elementary teachers, we need to provide opportunities and encourage our pupils to write in cursive. The difficulty in writing also leads to difficulty in reading as well.
I understand, as teachers in K-12, we all become neophytes following the uploaded curriculum guides and DLL materials without the learner’s materials. Cursive writing is not mentioned in our Grade 6 curriculum though we have the writing macro skills. We must not forget this one writing form lest it will just be a thing of the past. A lost art form.
[Editor’s Note: Maybe of interest to our readers, the proclamation of Philippine independence on June 12, 1898 in Kawit, Cavite was backed by a document known as the Act of the Declaration of Independence from the colonial rule of Spain written in Spanish and rendered in cursive writing. The document or a copy of it is safely stored in the National Library.]