Published: Mar 05, 2013 05:35 PM
Modified: Mar 05, 2013 05:26 PM
CARY - As state legislators debate whether schools should teach cursive writing, local educators are exploring new ways to teach the ancient art of penmanship.
Even in the age of computers, we still write things down, said Denise Donica, an assistant professor in East Carolina Universitys occupational therapy program.
Donica was in Cary last Friday for her side job teaching others how to teach handwriting.
Handwriting instruction has come a long way since the days when students wrote long sentences on the chalkboard for practice and punishment. Increasingly, teachers goal is to make penmanship lessons more interactive and attractive better competition, maybe, for the magnetic power of a glowing screen.
You have to make it fun. They have to be tangible, said Barbara Yearby, the director of a new preschool in Moore County. She traveled to Cary with a colleague to sharpen up on her writing skills ahead of the schools opening.
The Friday and Saturday workshop, hosted at the Embassy Suites, took a multi-sensory approach. Through a curriculum called Handwriting Without Tears, teachers learned to use songs, physical props and graphics.
Given the flood of new topics in school and demands on childrens time, some say its increasingly important that teachers have guidelines for teaching.
Donica authored a survey that found about a third of teachers had college-level training in handwriting instruction. And while handwriting in general needs new attention, its cursive specifically thats at risk, she said.
The curriculum is so packed with other content that cursive gets pushed out, said the instructor, who argues that cursive is a faster way to write, and a useful learning endeavor.
Cursive is motivating for lots of kids. They see it as adults, Donica said.
This kind of talk likely will hit the statehouse floor in the coming months as the General Assembly discusses the importance of cursive.
The current handwriting fight began this school year, when North Carolina joined 44 other states in implementing Common Core standards in language arts and mathematics. Common Core a program meant to unify national curriculums doesnt mention cursive.
If passed, the bill would make cursive a part of the state curriculum again.
Wake County schools already expect students to learn both cursive and print, according to schools spokeswoman Samiha Khanna. In fact, one local teacher said, the school district seems to put more emphasis on penmanship than the classrooms of a couple decades ago.
Of course, some adults could use a lesson in penmanship, too. Dozens of handwriting instruction books exist for the mature.
The important thing for adults, Donica said, is motivation. Staff writer T. Keung Hui contributed to this report.