The Argument For Cursive Handwriting and Clearer Thinking

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iStock

Just as in fashion, trends in education come and go. An average school day might no longer contain Latin, compulsory religious studies, or home economics, and it may not even include that old staple of primary education: cursive. As old-fashioned handwriting lessons make way for courses in keyboard skills, graphic design, and coding, some research suggests that this trend isn't necessarily for the best.

The proponents of a cursive-less classroom have some strong arguments on their side. There are only so many hours in the day, and certain skills need to be prioritized in an increasingly digital age. This kind of thinking is evident in the current federal Common Core standards for public education, which quietly exclude any form of handwriting instruction.  Some states, including California, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Tennessee, have passed their own legislation to combat this development, and they have some research to back this up.

A classic study by George H. Early, published in the Journal of Academic Therapy in 1976, notes a connection between first-grade students' instruction in cursive handwriting and their aptitude for reading and spelling. The hypothesis was that so-called "joined-up writing" led to a sort of joined-up thinking, in which the "continuous line in writing a word provides kinesthetic feedback about the shape of the words as a whole, which is absent in manuscript writing." Cursive, in Early's view, promoted words, rather than single letters, as complete units of thought—much more reflective of the way human brains need to process language for comprehension.

For those who dismiss Early's study as a quaint relic of a pre-computer age, Dr. Virginia Berninger, educational psychology professor at the University of Washington, insists that his assertions remain valid. "Cursive helps you connect things," she says. Berninger is quoted in a policy brief published by the National Association of State Boards of Education, which has come out strongly in support of cursive [PDF]. The brief argues that unlike typing, cursive's combined requirements of cognitive and motor skills necessitate formal instruction—keyboards are intuitive, but writing by hand is not.

While cursive handwriting may never regain the dominance it once saw in lesson plans, there's still some worth in all those curlicues and flourishes.

[h/t Mic]

You Can Rent a ‘Lisa Frank Flat’ in Los Angeles on Hotels.com

Hotels.com
Hotels.com

If you went to elementary school in the 1980s or 1990s, chances are there was at least one piece of Lisa Frank gear in your classroom. The artist's aesthetic helped define the decades, and wide-eyed, technicolor animals still hold a special place in the hearts of millennials. Now, you can live out your childhood dream of having a room that looks like the inside of your 3rd grade backpack: a penthouse suite inspired by Lisa Frank is now available to book in Los Angeles.

The Lisa Frank Flat, a collaboration between Lisa Frank and Hotels.com, screams nostalgia. Each room pays homage to the settings and characters in the artist's vast catalog. The bathroom is painted to look like an underwater paradise, with shimmering dolphins swimming in a pink and blue sea. The kitchen is stocked with snacks from your childhood—like Gushers, Pop-Tarts, Pixy Stix, and Planters Cheez Balls—and painted in bright, rainbow animal patterns that will reflect how you feel when your sugar rush peaks.

Lisa Frank bathroom.
Hotels.com

Lisa Frank kitchen.
Hotels.com

In the bedroom, the colors are toned down only slightly. A light-up cloud canopy and a rainbow sky mural create a soothing environment for falling asleep. And if seeing Lisa Frank around every corner makes you feel inspired, there's a place for you to get in touch with your inner pop artist. The desk comes supplied with pencils, folders, and a notebook—all branded with Lisa Frank artwork, naturally.

Lisa Frank bedroom.
Hotels.com

Lisa Frank desk.
Hotels.com

Interested in basking in the glow of your childhood hero for a night? Online reservations for the Lisa Frank Flat at Barsala in downtown Los Angeles will be available through Hotels.com starting October 11 and lasting through October 27. You can book your stay for $199 a night—just don't forget to pack your Trapper Keeper.

New Jersey Elementary School Has a Vending Machine That Dispenses Books to Stellar Students

LightFieldStudios/iStock via Getty Images
LightFieldStudios/iStock via Getty Images

At Leonardo Elementary School in Middletown Township, New Jersey, teachers give out gold coins to kids who win Student of the Month awards or exhibit other laudable behavior. The coins aren’t made of chocolate or anything else inherently valuable; instead, children insert them into a book-filled vending machine and choose their next riveting read.

According to NJ.com, a parent suggested the idea to PTA president Sandy Lamb after hearing about a similar machine in a Utah school, and the parents and administrators then worked together to secure the $3800 needed to purchase their very own Bookworm Vending Machine from Global Vending Group. It’s known as “Inchy” and can hold between 200 and 300 books, offering a wide array of reading material for every type of reader.

Principal Peter Smith told NJ.com that he hopes Inchy will encourage students to read outside the classroom.

“I view reading like a sport,” he said. “In the same way, you cheer students on and want them to be the best.”

It also positions reading as a reward, while other programs often use reading as the means to a reward. For example, Pizza Hut’s beloved BOOK IT! program motivates children to read a certain number of books in order to earn free pizza, with the rationale that they’ll learn to love reading along the way. Initiatives like those can definitely have a positive effect on young readers, but they also might imply that reading is something you have to get through in order to deserve the prize. In other words, you have to eat your vegetables before you can have dessert.

The book vending machine is an opportunity to teach children that reading actually is the dessert. Since it’s only been up and running for a month, it’s probably too soon to tell how Inchy has impacted students’ general outlook on leisure reading. The same can’t be said for other schools in the district, however; according to Smith, they’re already interested in getting their own book vending machines.

[h/t NJ.com]

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