Cursive and Adult Literacy

cursiveWhen literacy is taught to adults, there is just as much focus on the reading as the writing aspect. Writing has been taught in two mediums in the past, the ability to write print as well as cursive. There is now a debate going on to completely eradicate cursive writing. We are here to look at both the pros and cons and let you decide for yourself whether the form should be eliminated.

Cursive has many benefits associated with it. As new studies emerge on cursive, they are proving that it may indeed be more useful for people to learn the writing form because of the impact it has on the brain. It helps in motor control, sensation, and thinking. This is beyond what simple computer typing does (classified as print).  It has also been found that the certain form of writing is better when used if one is thinking about something, writing, or planning. The act of writing helps to get the thoughts out faster because the style is much more fluid. Another important aspect of cursive is that it was used for most important documents in history: Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, Bill of Rights, and so on. Wouldn’t it be a shame if only specialists in cursive (similar to specialists in reading hieroglyphics) could read these documents and interpret them for the rest of the population?

While cursive has pros, the cons follow right behind it. Cursive takes a lengthy time to learn, and some people just do not have the time to learn cursive. Personally, I was lucky to have learned it at such a young age because a lot of my friends who are now learning cursive have noticed that it is extremely time consuming for them. This is a problem that it takes so much time to learn. Since many people that are learning cursive are also adults, it doesn’t help that they have jobs, and maybe even a family to take care of. Print is easier to learn and is also more readily comprehended by people. The other thing is that cursive is just not as useful as it was in the past. Since most of us use computers, phones, and more writing is in print not cursive, there simply is no need to learn something that will not be useful to a person in the future. They could spend time learning something that would actually benefit them.

Only time will tell if cursive becomes another form of abandoned writing or becomes embraced by the population. There simply is not a demand for cursive anymore as there was once in the past.

For more information about this debate I encourage everyone to look at this video:
http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nightly-news/52955078#52955078

Sources: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/memory-medic/201303/what-learning-cursive-does-your-brain

 

Dr. Tony Bennett is named Florida Commissioner of Education

Dr. Tony Bennet

On December 12, the Florida State Board of Education selected Dr. Tony Bennett as the state’s new Commissioner of Education. Elected as the former Superintendent of Indiana’s public schools in 2009, Dr. Bennett was responsible for increasing the graduation rate above 85%, implementing A-F school grades, and implementing the Indiana Growth model, which is a measure of students’ progress.

Tony Bennett plans on improving the Florida K-12 education system and will focus on Governor Scott’s Career and College FIRST (Focusing Investments on Results for Students and Teachers) program. This program was designed to prepare students for future success in college and careers.

Governor Scott, pleased with the board’s choice, made it clear that he expects Dr. Bennett to drive the College and Career FIRST initiative. This agenda revolves around three main goals that have been described as follows.

GOAL #1:  Maintain accountability while focusing on the successful transition to more rigorous Common Core State Standards and assessments, which better measure readiness for college and career

GOAL #2:  Support teachers and equip them with the tools they need to improve their practice as professionals and to help students realize better educational outcomes

GOAL #3:  Allow choices and flexibility in districts, schools and classrooms that recognize the unique needs of students and teachers and support efforts to achieve improved results

For more information on Florida’s College and Career FIRST program, please visit http://www.flgov.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/College-and-Career-1st-FINAL.pdf.

You may also want to read the Department of Education Press Release naming Tony Bennett Commissioner of Education at http://www.flgov.com/2012/12/12/state-board-of-education-names-tony-bennett-as-commissioner-of-education/.

Corrections and Education

Courtesy of TheSocietyPages

Corrections and education are undoubtedly connected. They play a role in the likelihood of entering and re-entering the system. Here are some national and Florida facts about the correlation.

Florida

  • On average, a Florida inmate’s probability of re-offending drops by 2.9% for each higher grade of adult basic education tested.
  • Inmates who earn a GED are 8.7% less likely to recidivate than those who do not complete a GED program.
  • Inmates who receive a GED and improve their TABE score to 9th grade level or higher are 25% less likely to recidivate than those who receive a GED and have a TABE level of 8th grade or less.
  • Of the 32,304 inmates admitted into the Florida prison system in fiscal year 2004-2005, approximately 70% were assessed as having less than functional literacy skills (less than a 9th grade level) and 42% were classified as having only basic literacy skills (1st– 5th grade levels)
National
  • A higher percentage of prison inmates than adults living in households have Below Basic quantitative literacy (39 percent compared with 21 percent).
  • The average reading level of prison inmates is very low: below the 5th grade in one study and below the 8th grade in another study.
  • About 67% of prison inmates cannot write a brief letter explaining a billing error, read a map, or understand a bus schedule.
  • 9% of all prisoners with low literacy skills receive literacy training while in prison.
  • 49% of adults who have not been in prison education programs are re-incarcerated.
  • If the male high school graduation rate were increased by just 5%, annual crime-related savings to the nation would be approximately $5 billion dollars. The benefits would vary from state to state: South Dakota (at the low end) would save $1.6 million, Oklahoma (near the middle) would save $63 million, and California (at the high end) would save almost $675 million.—Saving Futures, Saving Dollars
  • Nationwide, three-quarters of state prison inmates are drop-outs, as are 59% of federal inmates. Drop-outs are 3.5x more likely than high school graduates to be incarcerated in their lifetime. African Americans are disproportionately incarcerated. Of all African American male drop-outs in their early 30’s, 52% have been imprisoned. 90% of the 11,000 youth in adult detention facilities have less than a 9th grade education.—Every Nine  Seconds in America a Student Becomes a Dropout

Sources:

Literacy and Corrections- FLC
Florida Department of Corrections 
National Assessment of Adult Literacy, 2003
Oklahoma Literacy Resource Office 

Megan Bakan: Writing through the Senses

What is one of the more difficult tasks for adult basic education students? Often it is writing.  They (and we) have difficulty thinking of topics and developing them into interesting and detailed compositions.  In order to write we must have something to say.  Sometimes we get writer’s block.  How can we help our students get past this block?  One way is to help them access their knowledge and memories through their senses. If we can access information and memories then we have something to say and something to write about.

How do we gather information about the world?  We gather information through our senses.  We store this information, our memories, through our senses too. We have six basic senses:

1. Vision – seeing
2. Auditory – hearing
3. Gustatory – taste
4. Olfactory – smell
5. Tactile – the texture of how something feels (a bumpy rock versus a smooth rock)
6. Kinesthetic – muscle memory for tasks (how to dial a phone number on a rotary versus cell phone)

The activities, which can be found by clicking the “get it now” button, are adapted from a presentation given by Kathy St. John. Each of them provides the participant with an opportunity to tap into their senses before they begin writing.  Our senses are a valuable storehouse of knowledge; they can breathe life into our writing. Have fun!