‘Handwriting, spelling skills in public schools degenerating’
First of Two Parts
A Grade 6 public school teacher in a Cordillera division, who asked not to be named, noticed that for some years now, nearly half of her classes had not learned to write the alphabet and numbers in the standard way, with the letters F, D and Q as the most wrongly written.
She said it seemed that the common thinking among today’s pupils is that it doesn’t matter how precise they write, provided that the results resemble the actual letters. Thus, some begin incorrectly or would create letters using more strokes than necessary.
She recalled that while teaching in Grades 2 and 3 back in the 1990s, she only needed to help the slow learners with their handwriting.
“[Pupils nowadays] are not slow learners, they simply have not mastered writing the alphabet in the right way. They do not follow any rules,” the teacher said.
Meanwhile, a high school teacher in Region 1 said the sight of the written work of students makes her blood pressure shoot up because some cannot even execute the correct form of the letter A, the sentences begin in lower case, and rules on margins and indention are ignored “on top of wrong grammar and spelling.”
Saying that she started noticing the degeneration of the handwriting of pupils around a decade ago, the Region 1 elementary school teacher laments: “There are those who write completely in bold letters. They do not know proper use of capital letters. They do not know cursive. Some are even lazy to write their surname.”
Cursive on the way out?
A source at the Tabuk City National High School said only 20 percent of their Grade 7 students coming from public schools write in cursive as compared to the 90 percent a decade back.
Tabuk City Central School Principal Juliana Javillonar also noted that not all their Grade 6 pupils could write in cursive.
Javillonar said theme writing under the K to 12 curriculum starts in Grade 3, but these are informal and, according to the learning competencies, composed of only two to three sentences, thus loose leaves are used instead of the formal theme books used in the old curricula. She added that the pupils could pick their own topics.
Lumines also said that in the old curriculum, Grade 2 pupils were made to write informal theme up to three sentences for purposes of teaching content, mechanics of writing and organization and apart from the four formal themes, teachers could require as many informal pieces as she felt needed.
She said based on her analysis of the K to 12 curriculum for Grade 4 English, there is not enough time allowance to develop the skills sought in traditional theme -writing. And so it appears that the purpose of the activity is just to write the acquired knowledge about the lesson taken during the period.
“It is no longer like before when theme writing was a separate lesson with steps e.g., oral composition or pre-writing activity where pupils learn the words and phrases to be used in the theme, drafting, revision, editing and formal writing,” Lumines said.
She also said there were some Grade 4 teachers who understood the objective “to be able to write a four-sentence paragraph” literally, and do not take it as having several paragraphs with at least one paragraph containing four or more sentences.
Shown a sample Grade 4 theme, Lumines declared: “No indention, no period, not cursive. In writing performance, the writer is Grade 2 level compared to pupils during our time.”
She, however, commented that despite their disregard of writing mechanics, faulty organization, spelling and the grammar, today’s school children still have good ideas and content.
(Second part to be published on Sept. 19, 2019)
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