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April 7, 2013

Penmanship alive and well in local districts


“We can never be replaced by the computer,” said Sister Suzanne Fondini, principal of the St. Monica School on Lawrence Street in Methuen.

She, like other educators, said students need to be skilled in all types of communication.

“They need to know keyboarding and how to use an iPad but they also need to know the art of personal-letter writing,” she said. “It takes a few moments of your time, but I really believe that so sincerely. There are thank-you notes I will personally write as a warm and grateful thanks to someone. I believe in it very sincerely.”

And, she said, cursive handwriting is the best format for that.

“The art of writing is what is important,” she said. “It’s part of our culture as well. It’s part of the fine arts. These are the fine things we have to teach them in life. As educators, we will fail if we cease doing that.”

Mack, in Londonderry, said her school is teaching both penmanship and keyboarding while understanding that society is in a “transitional time.”

In the past, cursive writing was one way to check on the fine motor skills of a student. That has been replaced by texting, she said.

However, cursive is still a useful skill, since it improves the speed of handwriting.

“It makes it faster for them to write responses,” she said.

Christopher Wilson, head of school at Esperanza Academy, a Lawrence middle school, agreed.

While many students come from elementary schools without knowing how to write in cursive, “a student who can write in cursive can take notes faster.”

Plus, he said, “if they have a writing assignment that they have to do in longhand, they can do it faster. And they can take tests faster. Printing just takes longer.”

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