Handwriting is Dead (Oh no it isn’t!)

Reading my copy of TESS this week I was enjoying Fraser Speirs’ feature on using mobile phones in the classroom “Don’t run what ya brung”…until I got to the small print. Underneath the article some quotes from Fraser’s Tweets and Blogs are printed, including: “I started saying “handwriting is dead” in my presentations – for the shock value. You know what? Nobody finds it shocking. @fraserspeirs” TESS 11/03/11 Well, I am shocked! His tweet stabbed my heart like a pencil that’s just been sharpened. I can imagine some teachers are happy to hear that handwriting is now irrelevant and we don’t need to bother teaching it or get upset when we can’t read the scrawl offered in some of the jotters. Believing handwriting is dead, or irrelevant, relieves teachers of the responsibility and burden of trying to fix poor handwriting. Handwriting is not an easy problem to tackle – it requires consistency and constant encouragement in the classroom, and let’s face it, sometimes you are just happy if children write something, no matter how it looks. Also, the longer handwriting is left to its own devices the worse the problem becomes. A secondary colleague recently explained to me that some of the boys she teaches wear bad handwriting like a badge – it is cool, apparently, if no-one can read what you’ve written. I know we’re preparing children to take their place in a digital age – and hey, I love technology in the classroom, and I’m not sitting here scratching away on a handwriting recognition pad, but… Until we have 1:1 access to laptops / tablets / whatever, in the classroom and at home, that will perform, publish and print without fail, then we still need handwriting. As long as we are asking our children to demonstrate their knowledge by sitting a paper and pencil exam, then we still need handwriting. We are constantly judged by the quality of our handwriting – teachers, employers and examiners are some of the people we need to impress. Unfortunately, like it or not, we can’t help but be influenced by the handwriting and presentation of a piece of homework, letter or exam answer. If teachers believe handwriting is dead so will children. Handwriting is not dead, yet. We owe it to our children to provide them with the best handwriting we can give them, as teachers it is our duty. Video didn’t kill the radio star, cars haven’t killed bikes, microwaves haven’t killed cooking and Kindle hasn’t killed real books. Don’t let computers kill handwriting. So go on p-p-p-pick up a pencil – just make sure it is sharp. Read Fraser Speirs’ excellent article in full: http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6072633

Poke the Box

I would also like to thank the following people for their inspiration / contribution to this blog and first post: Fraser Speirs – for his controversial tweet see @fraserspeirs Bill Boyd – for revealing the true purpose of Twitter to me and having such an inspiring and useful site (www.theliteracyadviser.co.uk) Kenny Pieper – for recommending “Poke the Box” by Seth Godin – this is me “poking the box” see @kennypieper

Originally posted on Pandora’s Pencil Case 03/11/2011

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About the author

Anne Glennie is a Primary Teacher, Literacy Consultant, Trainer and the creator of Reflective Reading and founder of The Learning Zoo. Living on the Isle of Lewis she also has her own menagerie comprising: 1 husband, 2 children, 8 alpacas, 10 Hebridean sheep, 1 crested gecko and 1 French bulldog called Moomin.

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