We Are Always Learning

I am beginning to grasp a piece of the controversy that is driving manuscript, or cursive, or keyboard instruction in schools.

I am a self-taught italic handwriting instructor. I still work with italic because I believe in the success of the method. When I first started to teach I became aware of a test of shapes for admission of young children to the school. I did not understand. Nearly 40 years later I still do not understand, and I certainly do not understand the correlation of shapes to handwriting. I teach lowercase first because we need them more often than uppercase, and the simple shapes conform to natural movements of hands and fingers. Letters are implanted in motor memory for writing and reading.

Uppercase letters do not comply well with the easy, flowing movement of italic lowercase letters. At first children need just a few that allow them to write their names properly. When lowercase letters are developing well, teach all of the uppercase with words so children learn the reason for uppercase, and they practice the lowercase at the same time.

Now I am beginning to understand why the circles, squares, etc. were thought necessary. Back in the early 20th century  educators decided to start children with manuscript instead of the looped, Palmer like cursive. It looked easier. They must have said, “Hey guys, we gotta teach ‘em  shapes so they can write our new ball & stick alphabet.” Think of it! Teach drawing only until these babes are old enough to write like grown-ups.

Now two separate, different alphabets are being taught…or not.

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