“We all strived to do it exactly as we were being taught…”

– Carmen Maidstone

This will probably end up being a rant. But first, a few questions.

  1. How legible is your handwriting?
  2. Do you write in cursive or by printing?
  3. How often do you write versus type/text?

My answers to these questions go as follows. My handwriting is considered by many to be completely illegible; I use a combination of cursive and printing; and I almost never write by hand if it’s avoidable. Has that stopped me from being able to fill out forms or sign cards? Nope. Could it be better? Probably. Is it something I’m interested in improving? Heck no, I actually like the way it looks and I have other more important priorities.

When I first saw this article, I wondered how it could even be listed as one of CBC’s three main Calgary articles for the day. This, to me, is not news. It’s some woman’s rant against the education system. I do, however, like that it creates a launching point for discussion about priorities.

As the curriculum director notes in the article, handwriting is a part of the curriculum, but it is at the teacher’s discretion how much time is devoted to it. And so we come to an all-too-common disconnect between teachers and parents. I would put it back to the mother and ask, would you rather have your son learn how to “connect his letters” OR would you rather have him learn how to develop and communicate an idea?

Maybe it’s generational, but if I were a parent, I would want my son/daughter’s teachers to spend more time teaching them how to write creatively, than on how to make letters fit between solid and dotted lines. Not only that, we are in the 21st Century where kids aren’t hand writing letters to their pen pals across the country. Instead they’re texting at the speed of light, or shooting off emails faster than we can read ’em. In fact, I’m almost inclined to say that I’d prefer that teachers spend more time teaching touch-typing than handwriting (Mavis Beacon FTW!). As a friend pointed out last night, kids entering grade 1 this fall will be graduating in 2022. By that time, we might not even have paper anymore.

Now I’m not saying we should abolish handwriting altogether, after all someone has to teach the kids how to hold a pen and how to form letters on paper. What I think this mother should be pushing for instead, as another friend pointed out, is the integration of creative writing and cursive writing into a single form. That practice should occur through application.

The big question is, how can we teach writing through inquiry?