By Steve Guss
Some members of the Indiana State Legislature are pushing for the return of cursive to its schools.
Hip, Hip, Hooray!
As a writing skills and reading comprehension tutor in Georgia where cursive has also been eliminated, I applaud the Hoosier state’s efforts to clean up the written word there. The unofficial reason for dropping cursive in Georgia was that teachers did not have enough time in the day to spend on refining the writing of third, fourth and fifth grade students.
Today, with all the electronic gear available, the smooth cursive handwriting style is a thing of the past. The problem is that the cursive replacement is mostly unreadable. Even the printed name of the student and the date on their papers cannot be deciphered in many cases. If you didn’t know the student by sight, matching his or her penmanship to the individual would be difficult.
The old joke is circulating again about “. . . if you can’t sign your name just put an X,” is not all that humorous anymore. When these students begin writing theme papers and book reports in middle and high school, teachers are going to expect better than what’s being written at the elementary level today.
What happens when these children need to sign checks and legal documents one day? See above.
Putting aside the handwriting issue for a moment, let’s look at the command of the language these students have. Even if their handwriting skills are passable, it doesn’t mean they can express themselves well on paper. Every day I see good, average and poor writers, including children with special needs, struggle with the proper use of nouns, pronouns, verbs and adverbs among other parts of speech.
Use of apostrophies, quotation marks, commas, capitalization and spelling in general need work.
A lot of this can be blamed on adults, even the parents of these youngsters. Where did the word “like” come from in the formation of sentences? English is a difficult language for all, and it’s not meant to be “hip.”
Here are some words improperly used every day: less and fewer; insure and ensure; who and whom, good and well, desert (120 degrees) and dessert (pie or cake), under way and underway, preventive or preventative, too and to and these three heard on television every day. Weather forecasters constantly misuse farther (distance) and further. Sportscasters have no idea what the difference is between their and it. What does it mean when someone uses the phrase”. . . we’ll keep a close eye on it?”
The Merriam Webster Dictionary will soon be a relic, no longer appearing in printed book form, only on the internet.
Teachers, parents primarily, are to blame for English becoming so fractured. Children don’t do a lot of homework– there are too many distractions and too few adults at home to monitor them. When the kids get on that bus, cursive is no longer on their minds and may have been lost forever.
Oh, my favorite incorrect phrase “First (1st) Annual.” You see it everywhere, mostly in advertising. There’s no such thing as First Annual anything. It’s not an annual event until held the second year. First ever, inaugural, initial, premiere are better words..