Wednesday, October 4, 2023

New enigma on the school network: schools abandon enclosed letters

Across Quebec, primary schools have stopped teaching students to write enclosed letters, a choice that sometimes becomes a headache when a child changes schools.

If the Ministry of Education proclaims that “you have to look at writing techniques in cursive and handwriting” in Quebec, in practice learning now differs from one school to another.

Some schools teach only the hyphen, others only the accompanying letters, and still others teach children both. In the same school service center or in the same neighborhood there may be several different practices.

“It is very different in Quebec, there is no unanimous line, the majority still practices both types of writing, both cursive and written. But the italics are slowly disappearing. Increasingly, the trend we observe is not widespread, but if there is a trend it is that cursive is slowly disappearing,” admits Nicolas Prévost, president of the Québec Federation of School Management. The latter specifies that there are currently no precise statistics on this issue, since decisions are often made by the school team.

Prévost emphasizes that it is easier for a child to learn to write in attached letters. The movement is more fluid and continuous, which is preferable for young people who suffer from dyspraxia or movement coordination problems.

“The script is more difficult on a mechanical level, but everything is built at the script level. Assessments, reading, everything learning to read is based on this style of writing, which is why the trend is more towards that side,” she says. There are two schools of thought in this area, he adds.

Change schools… and write

The school director recognizes, however, that the disparity in practices across the network poses certain challenges to students who change schools during their school career.

A child who does not know how to write on enclosed letters will have to learn it quickly in a new establishment where this technique is prioritized.

“It is certain that we will destabilize it,” agrees the president of the FQDEE, who adds that this learning still occurs quite quickly, especially among the youngest. “For students of 5my or 6my year, who have always lived in writing, who arrive in cursive, the shock can be greater. He emphasizes that the responsibility for teaching falls to the new school, often to the special education specialist.

Ontario reinstates enclosed letters

Meanwhile, in Ontario the opposite is true. The province has just reinstated writing on attached letters, mandatory for everyone, after having abandoned this learning technique for more than 15 years.

And rightly so, if we believe the doctoral student in the didactics department of the Faculty of Educational Sciences at the University of Montreal, Marjorie Cuerrier. The latter believes that Quebec should follow Ontario’s example and adopt a clear and uniform standard for learning to write. Currently, there is no “clear direction” in Quebec’s program.

“Ontario has been interested in the topic of writing for some time and with this new policy, the goal is quite clear: support educational success through research data. They will opt for what seems most advantageous to them and, for the moment, the research will really focus on cursive writing,” he specifies.

The advantage of attached letters.

Learning cursive allows children to write more quickly and fluently since the number of lifts of the pencil is limited and the letters are joined together in a continuous movement. There would be fewer, if any, problems with spacing between letters and words for young learners, no errors between letters b and d, and between p and q. “They are very, very common errors in writing and practically rare in cursive letters,” insists the doctoral student.

METERme Cuerrier emphasizes that teaching both writing techniques, as still happens in Quebec, creates an “overload” in the student, who will take longer to master graphomotor skills and spelling. So the first step would be to select a single style. “We choose one, and if it is cursive writing, it is much more effective,” adds the academic, who regrets that we do not have data to establish a portrait of the situation.

The government admits that the investigation has evolved and that “reflections” are being carried out in the Ministry of Education. The question of calligraphic style will be addressed in particular within the framework of the work on the revision of the French programs, announced last June.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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