Tuesday, May 6, 2014

PBS: Cursive writing helps dyslexic students



  1. This is what I wrote to PBS:
    I have been debating about whether I will renew my membership ever since May 6, 2014 when there were two reports with faulty information. One, “Why some schools still insist on lessons in elegant cursive,” was introduced by Gwen Ifill whom I had respected. It included Marilyn Zecher who was also featured in the other report, “How cursive can help students with dyslexia.”

    PBS is remiss in supporting a method of handwriting without checking the research that was misquoted. As a handwriting specialist I read the research. So far none has proved any one method of letter formation over any other, but the nostalgic (Steve Graham’s word, “romantic”) are prone to misrepresent actual research.

    If Marilyn Zecher is successful with conventional cursive handwriting for her students it may be testament to her good instruction. It has nothing to do with the research she claims, “it integrates hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills and other brain and memory functions.

    Some of the most recent research in the fMRI studies is showing us that when the hands are involved, it’s a stronger association for learning and memory. When people write things they remember them longer,”

    That last sentence is true, but “cursive" was NOT the subject of the fMRI studies. Children were writing with no specified method for letter formation. Most, if not all were using a print-like script. PBS should have done their homework. Even the renowned Professor Graham would not claim that conventional cursive (the variety of cursive taught today in North America) is superior to any other handwriting.

    Reference is so often made to reading the Declaration of Independence. We admire the elegant hand of the scribe. We should be looking for eloquence, never mind elegant because few students will go there.

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