Thursday, August 19, 2010

My students

Some of the college students I teach
  • don't wear wristwatches
  • think email is too slow
  • don't know how to write in cursive
Yes, it's true!  I get lots of printed answers when I give in-class exams; their pages full of words are printed letter by letter by letter ... t ... h ... e.  In their world they type ... or text.  And most have never used phones with cords (or "only at my grandparents' house," as one teen said).  Teachers need to be aware of the cultural shift, so the Mindset List from Beloit College tells teachers what cultural references familiar to them might draw blank stares from college freshmen born mostly in 1992.

On a similar note and even more eye-opening for me, while I was writing notes on my tablet at adjunct orientation Tuesday evening, the woman on my left and the man on my right were both taking notes on their Blackberry phones.  I'm behind the times!  (Or maybe they were texting friends, as one of my grandsons was doing on Christmas Day?)


Anonymous said...

It's all true. Sad but true. Letter writing by hand is almost a thing of the past.

Susan Tidwell said...

seriously? no cursive writing?

Wow, this is enlightening. We may be able to write faster than they can, but they are far quicker texting (and apparently taking notes on a Blackberry).

Great post, Bonnie, sounds like you are learning a thing or two from your students.

Loved the Mindset list, a lot of which I had no clue what they were talking about!

Helen's Book Blog said...

I was just talking about this yesterday with some colleagues. I still wear a watch, still take notes from meetings on a paper notebook, and I still write letters/cards to my grandmother!

However, I absolutely see the need to use online "stuff" for our students. We need to teach in their world, not ours and I am having a very tough time convincing my colleagues of that. Many are afraid they don't know enough and I try to convince them that teachers know the content, students know the technology.

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Susan found this subject interesting enough to post about the "generation gap" this morning on her blog:

Colleen commented on Susan's blog: "I wonder about the loss of cursive too. Maybe it's obsolete. The world has sped up so fast I can't do it anymore in any readable way. It comes out like scrawl."

Never Came Home said, "I wonder if sometimes a generation's experiences are affected not by their interests, but instead by what they are exposed to." I agree with her. (I edited her comment for grammar and punctuation, as writing teachers are wont* to do.)

My response on Susan's blog is probably another post, but I'll share it here with you:

I'm glad you found the list as interesting as I did. Cursive seems to have gone the way of the dinosaurs because it is no longer being taught, someone told me. I don't know if that's true, and I can't imagine why it isn't considered important.

I'm returning to adjunct teaching and have been astounded to learn how much has changed in three or four years. Now I am expected to do everything online: record daily attendance, post grades, "talk" to students via school email (so there will be a record,
if needed), receive their "written" essays through an electronic "dropbox," mark up the essays using Word, do tests and quizzes online, etc. In other words, I'm supposed to keep track of everything they do ... online. I'm beginning to wonder when I'll be told to record every time a student takes her eyes off my stimulating and fascinating class presentations.

So Helen, I am now entering "their world" of all-things-electronic, even though I too still wear a watch and still take notes with pen and paper. For one thing, it means I will no longer have to carry home large stacks of essays to grade!

* Footnote: Won't is a contraction of "will not." Wont means "accustomed."

Susan Tidwell said...

Wow, that is amazing (that you as a teacher are expected to do everything online)!

I know my son-in-law took an online college course and of course everything was done online, term 'papers', discussion, reading, etc. But I never thought that would be true for an actual on-campus class! That is probably the only way the kids know how to do anything anymore, very sad.

And I wonder if it is true that they are not even teaching cursive anymore? I will have to quiz some of the local teachers on that one!

The list was very interesting. I hope you don't mind that I copied your idea - I just kept thinking about it and had to 'say' something!

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Susan, I am extremely happy that you "copied" this idea. It seems like something we older folks need to know, whether we are teaching or not.

The department head wants me to teach some of the online courses, but I did that once and hated it. I never got to TEACH or interact in any meaningful way with the students, and all I did was grade papers and exams. Maybe it has changed enough since the 1990s that it would seem more like actually teaching to me, but I'm not yet convinced.

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Susan did some research on "longhand" and posted it this morning:

She mentions a Time magazine article, Mourning the Death of Handwriting, that I found very interesting:,9171,1912419,00.html

Thanks, Susan.

KateGladstone said...

Research shows that the fastest and most legible handwriters avoid cursive. They join some, not all, the letters -- making the easiest joins, skipping the rest -- and tend to use print-style letter-shapes for those letters whose printed and cursive shapes disagree. This certainly doesn't leave them without signatures, as -- despite what your elementary school teacher loved to believe -- the law doesn't require cursive signatures, and never has. (Ask your attorney, who will confirm this -- or read the "signatures" question on the FAQ page of the handwriting information web-site .)

Reading others' cursive remains important, as long as anyone writes that way or wants to read the original of a document which was penned in cursive -- that skill (reading cursive) can be learned in an hour or less if one does not also have to spend months or years additionally learning to write that way. (Five- and six-year-olds can learn to read cursive in about a half-hour if they know how to read other writing, no matter what style they write themselves.) It's much the same as the way we read the elaborate "Olde Englishe" letter-styles on Christmas cards -- or the other fancy fonts on the covers of fantasy novels and computer games -- without thinking that we must also write this way in order to learn how to read it.)

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Susan, Helen, and Madge --

I've run across another article about teaching cursive, and now seven states "are fighting to restore the cursive instruction." Here's the link:

Bonnie Jacobs said...

'Madge emailed back...

"My grandkids in California all learn cursive. I will have to ask my granddaughter in Chicago. Thanks for the article.

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Susan emailed back...

"thanks Bonnie, good one!
blogging about this again!"

And she did. Here's the link to her blog post from this morning:

revisiting cursive

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Here's a link to different FONTS that Susan included in her blog post, saying, "Handwriting is so personal, from the boldness of the stroke to how many curlicues you use, or do you dot your I's with a heart? Now the only way we can personalize the appearance of our writing is by using different fonts. What font are you?"

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Helen commented...

"One of our teachers was just complaining about the lack of cursive writing the other day."