Stangl

For those who remember spending hours in classrooms working on the flourish of your letter “l” and getting the curve of the lower case “g” just right, a trend in recent legislation may make your efforts relevant once again.

Lawmakers in Wisconsin and several other states are introducing legislation requiring the teaching of cursive writing.

Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, R-Fond du Lac, chair of the Assembly’s Education Committee, has introduced legislation that would require schools to incorporate cursive in elementary curriculums with the goal of having students write legibly in cursive by the end of fifth grade.

Thiesfeldt said in an interview with the Wisconsin State Journal that research suggests taking notes by hand, as opposed to typing, can lead to better comprehension and understanding of material, and cursive has long been billed as a faster method of note-taking compared to print handwriting.

The use of cursive also requires a higher level of hand-eye coordination, which can be particularly helpful for younger children, he said.

“It’s not just a nostalgic sort of skill that we want to maintain it just because people used to do it,” said Thiesfeldt, adding he’s had staffers in his office that have had difficulties reading his notes written in cursive.

I’m sure many of us who toiled on our penmanship have mixed emotions about the return of “writing” to the basics of “reading, writing and arithmetic.” My penmanship is horrible, I went to printing years ago and have some issues reading what I have written later.

But I understand why handwriting is important, and I think the thought process behind this bill is spot on. Even though I may struggle deciphering what I have written, it is fairly easy for my mind to recall what I was doing when I wrote the notes.

I do believe it helps to write things down and not rely on technology to capture everything for you. I think this is true for no other reason than saving time. When I go to transcribe a taped interview, I double the time spent on the story. It is good to have a recording to refer to for accurate quotes, but handwritten notes get the job done.

Then there’s the issue of people who weren’t taught handwriting having to sign their names for legal documents. What an unnecessary nightmare for everyone!

Wisconsin education officials estimate public and charter schools would have to spend between $1.7 million to $5.95 million on student materials annually and between $250,000 and $1.6 million on teacher training in at least the first year of the requirement.

As for determining whether a Wisconsin child can write legibly in cursive by the fifth grade, it would likely be up to the subjectivity of teachers, said Thiesfeldt, a former teacher who used to grade students on their handwriting abilities.

I know that this mandate will increase costs to schools. I hope that the legislature does the responsible thing and give additional funds along with the mandate so other items aren’t cut so children can have legible handwriting. This is something that should have never left classrooms.

I struggled for years with adopting a capital “T” that I was comfortable with. I hope the young writers get comfortable with their signatures. It’s important.

As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at tstangl@theameryfreepress.com, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.

Thanks for reading I’ll keep in touch. Feel free to do the same.