In a state of 8% unemployment, a seeming inability to create jobs that provide subsistence for an individual, & who is adopting the Common Core educational standards where all testing will be done digitally, the Indiana state government is starting off the year debating whether or not to put cursive writing back in school.

I first read the article on Facebook and followed up the read by doing a few Google searches where I found a few websites that published relatively the same elements of the story. Those websites were:

  • will.illinois.edu
  • thestarpress.com
  • fox28.com
  • Indystar.com [To indystar.com: Note all the other locations where I found the story. Your “only 12 free articles views there this month,” is relatively unconcerning. If your writer’s content was that worth it, they would have left and started their own blogs long ago.]

At no point in time was cursive used to write, publish & syndicate those stores nor was it used during my search engine searches.

Essentials to the story of making cursive writing a requirement in Indiana state schools in 2013

All the above articles wrote essentially the same facts:

  • Indiana lawmakers removed cursive writing as required teaching in state-accredited schools in 2011
  • In 2012, Indiana State House voted down a bill that would have brought it back
  • Indiana State Senator Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg) sponsored the 2012 & 2013 bill to reinstate cursive writing
  • Therein lies an implication that the state hoped schools would take the extra time in the day to focus on teaching “keyboarding.”
  • Leising believes cursive will better help students scholarly achievements by reading historical documents such as the U.S. Constitution

Other elements of notes regarding the requirement of cursive in schools

  • Teaching cursive would be left up to the discretion of the school districts
  • Teaching cursive was not banned by the state
  • The law was removed so as to not add additional state restrictions to school districts

I don’t necessarily disagree with the State Senator. I had a friend back at Denom University who was able to go to Notre Dame University during a summer break to study the Dead Sea Scrolls because his knowledge of Koine Greek, Aramaic and Latin qualified him. I was jealous. Being able to read the authors’ words in their language without having someone translate them for you is an incredible gift. Your understanding, your word choice, your semantics, your knowledge, your discovery. Your freedom. Makes me want to brush up on my Koine Greek though nowadays an online interactive translation of the scrolls are available because Technology is the beat to which time marches on.

I’d even give her props if she’s able to get the law reinstated. I appreciate her intentions. My intentions are similar. Her zealous quest for penmanship despite 25.9% poverty among the 550+ citizens in her hometown wasn’t what concerned me.

Its the fact that Indiana wanted schools to focus more on keyboarding!

It’s good to know that a century after typing / “keyboarding” became the backbone to business & academic communication that my state’s beginning to get more serious about the discipline. It will make it easier for the next generation of citizens to navigate the user experience nightmare known as the Indiana unemployment website.

What are in the Indiana Academic standards?

Speaking of horrible user experience, instead of making the academic websites easier to navigate with the content on web pages for search engines to pick up so if there’s a certain academic standard you would like to know, you could Google it, the site website has web pages with very little content but with links to PDFs where you can download each standard – Math, Social Studies, Science & English/Literature – 1 at a time. K-8th grade. 36 in all. Have fun.

Indiana state websites are a reflection of our national education issue.

To keep up with China, Japan, South Korea and the litany of other countries whose tech-savvy students are leapfrogging ours and making 😛 faces as they bound over us, we need to first understand it ourselves. Instead of making penmanship a requirement, we should be making Digital Literacy a requirement. We’ve been taking for granted that today’s students innately know that the technology used to show this content and the content linked to here displayed is a combination of  HTML – Markup Languages – in conjunction with CSS – Cascading Style Sheets – javascript, PHP and other bits of technology used to tell the web browsers how this content should be displayed. It’s the stuff that binds the world together. Nowadays, websites (unlike Indiana) use what is called responsive design to make sure that this content fits to your viewing device be it a laptop, cell phone or tablet. This shouldn’t be taken for granted. How can we take for granted that they know this. We already know most of their parents, the ones making rules in the home and in Indy, don’t know these things.

For example:  that email you wrote this morning where you bolded the phrase you wanted to make sure your boss read:   it used the same HTML codes as the web page. And when you went to Microsoft Word to make a list of things that need to get done for the week, it used the same HTML codes to display it just so. You use it and most of you outside of the design / development / tech world don’t even know it.

Learning such skills helps kids understand how to emphasize their messages, structure their works & systemize their thought process – skills that State Senator Leising would appreciate.

Learning HTML & CSS isn’t that tough

It’s like learning another vocabulary. We learned multiplication tables through 10; that was 100 pieces of information. We learned the alphabet; that’s 26. The state is  fighting to decide whether or not students should be able to write those letter & numbers in poor man’s calligraphy.

While we’re at it…

We should be making the following required:

  • Basic search engine commands:  I had to learn the Dewey decimal system.
  • Basic programming expressions
  • Fundamental analytics

Here’s an article I wrote on where one can find where to learn these digital skills for free.

Conclusion: If we’re going to make any new requirements in education…

….we should be focusing on how to teach our kids to be better than us instead passing down what gets us through the nights. And we should be making sure that everything they learn is critical to their success. We’re not atop the mountain looking down at everyone anymore. We’re climbing all over again. We need to equip them with what will get them through their tomorrows, for their tomorrows will be tougher than we’ve experienced – and it’s our apathy that caused this.

No one said that the schools should stop teach cursive writing. No one said that cursive writing was evil or should be banned – though given my diagnosed small motor coordination issues as a youth I would get nauseous during the D’Nealian classes that I felt it was the devil himself who devised the loopy writing. What I’m trying to say is that kids should get the most out of their education as possible. If we’re going to make anything else required, make it digital literacy. Everyone’s future depends on it.

PS

This content was created without the help of cursive writing.

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