I went to another training session on Tuesday, but this one is to work in the public elementary schools helping the little kiddies with their writing. As part of the training they showed us a video of a third grade teacher working with a few different students on the writing and revising process.
The teacher is working with this kid and asking him to underline or circle parts of his personal narrative that illustrate important ideas. So the kid takes his ratty old Number 2 pencil and starts drawing these haphazard, very crooked, going all over the place lines, and then decides to add on a "roof" and turn them into circles, which are also haphazard and all over the place. Not to mention the fact that his handwriting was barely legible. His narrative was absolutely wonderful - lots of description, an excellent effort for an eight year old.
I had to stop myself from laughing! In France this kid would have earned himself a punition. In France all the kids have pencil cases fully stocked with pens in all different colors, erasable pens, white-out, highlighters, scissors, rulers, calligraphy pens, erasers - you get the picture. Writing in pencil is generally frowned upon, pen is standard. One time I told the kids to write in pencil because it's easier to erase if you make a mistake, and the teacher came back in the room and yelled at them for not using pens! If kids have to underline anything it takes 5 minutes because they have to pull out their ruler, line it up exactly, and then draw a perfectly straight line. And of course by third grade (CE2 in France), the majority of kids have beautifully formed, impeccably neat and always legible cursive handwriting.
I love America. Way to value creativity over conformist handwriting and straight lines!