Few things strike apprehension into the heart of a child like seeing a long note from their teacher in bright red ink at the top of a worksheet. Usually such a note indicates a bad grade, but instead of being told she did poorly on an assignment, a 7-year-old got a dose of the dreaded red pen for simply signing her name in cursive instead of print.
According to a Facebook post that’s quickly going viral, young Alyssa received a note from her teacher alongside her perfectly formed cursive signature saying, “Stop writing your name in cursive. You have had several warnings.”
While following a teacher’s directions is an important skill for students to learn, and it’s not unreasonable for a teacher to make note of a student doing something they’ve repeatedly been told to not do, it’s hard to understand why anyone would want to discourage Alyssa from practicing her cursive skills in the first place. This seems like a situation that would warrant a sticker or words of praise rather than an angry note.
With so much of our day-to-day business being performed via computers and more and more major documents accepting electronic signatures, it makes sense that teaching children cursive might not be a priority in all schools. However, cursive isn’t a lost art just yet.
We might not use checkbooks as often as the generations before us, but signing your driver’s license or reading a historical document requires the ability to read and write script. If a student shows an aptitude for a somewhat unique skill, especially one like cursive, which requires focus, concentration and lots of practice to master, the goal should be to encourage them, not try to shame them or stop them.
If anything, taking the time to write in cursive is going above and beyond the task of simply writing your name at the top of your paper. That type of pride in one’s schoolwork should be something adults want to foster in children rather than shutting it down or making them feel bad. Teachers should want students like Alyssa in their class, students who aren’t afraid of hard work and have a natural thirst for learning.
It’s important for teachers and adults to urge children to try new things. When kids seek out new chances to learn, they will look to the adults in their life for support and reassurance that a skill is worth pursuing. It’s vital that teachers try to foster that love of learning rather than tamp it down.
When dealing with the day-to-day details of teaching a child, it can be hard to see the bigger picture of what accomplishments their current behaviors could lead to down the road. It’s easy to want kids to simply do as they’re told to get through the day, but asking questions, not taking the easy way out and mastering new talents are all things that make powerful future leaders. After all, a child who’s willing to bend the rules in school could grow up to be the one who makes the rules.