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Professor Bemoans Decline Of Cursive Writing

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The Zaner-Bloser cursive writing chart. (Credit: AP)

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DEKALB, Ill. (CBS) — A Northern Illinois University language arts professor is lamenting the passing of an era, and is trying to keep alive people’s ability to write in cursive as many of us were taught in elementary school.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya reports, young people express themselves more and more by typing on a keyboard rather than writing by hand.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780′s Bernie Tafoya reports

In fact, when freshmen entered Beloit College last year, the college’s annual Mindset List indicated that few members of the Class of 2014 knew how to write in cursive.

NIU professor Donna Werderich acknowledges teachers aren’t given enough time to teach cursive handwriting even if they wanted to. She tells teachers-to-be that they need to have good cursive writing themselves.

“Their students need to be able to see what they’re writing, and model that as well, and of course. Teachers are always concerned about their handwriting – that they weren’t taught that and they don’t use it either,” she said.

Werderich points out that some school districts are going to start off their kindergartners with iPads and keyboarding lessons.

But she says she is teaching her own 6-year-old son how to write in cursive, and believes it is still important.

A discussion of whether cursive handwriting retains any continued significance was sparked Tuesday by SouthtownStar columnist Phil Kadner, who pointed out that Indiana recently announced it was joining 48 other states – including Illinois – that do not require cursive writing as a core component of elementary curriculum.

Kander conjures an image of a generation of students who can’t even write well enough to sign their names on credit card receipts, and may need to mark an X “like illiterate people did in the 1800s.”

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