"Pupils' handwriting is deteriorating amid growing reliance on computers and poor teaching, it has been revealed. Vital developmental stages are being skipped as young children learn to type on a keyboard before putting a pen to paper."
We would take issue with the "poor teaching" as the article doesn't contain any evidence of this, only opinions on the different approaches to the teaching of writing.
However, the article does raise some interesting questions about 'pen v keyboard'.
Ian Toone, Voice's Senior Professional Officer (Education), who is quoted in the article, told the Daily Mail:
“Much of the debate centres on the neglect of joined-up (cursive) handwriting. Some teachers, especially in the younger age bracket, argue that it is a waste of time teaching joined-up handwriting because soon ‘everyone will be doing everything on computers’. Other teachers believe that joined-up writing is more efficient than print and aids fluency of expression and speed of thought.
“Practising handwriting helps children learn letters and shapes and can improve the creation and expression of ideas and help to develop fine motor skills, much more so than using a computer keyboard. However, modern software, used in conjunction with touch-screen devices, such as the iPad, is starting to reinvigorate handwriting practice.
“The problem is not seen so much in the early years of education, as the UK’s emphasis on literacy development has encouraged teachers to give pupils at least 20 minutes per day practising handwriting. However, in later years, children are left to develop their own handwriting style, which often leads to a deterioration in handwriting.
"The secondary curriculum only requires children to write legibly (rather than cursively), and, of course, most examinations at GCSE and A level are still taken using paper and pen, so pupils cannot afford to give up on writing before they leave school, even though the increasing use of computers means that they have less handwriting practice in the latter school years.”
Voice's Immediate Past Chairman, Nardia Foster, is also quoted in the article as having "witnessed deteriorating standards in children's handwriting during a career spanning 26 years":
"I've come across children who have gone through primary, secondary and got to A-levels and they're still not forming their letters properly. They say, 'I don't like to do joined-up writing. It's too hard, I'm not going to do it'."
"Is handwriting really a 'dead art'? Is it really correct that 'Handwriting doesn't exist is society anymore except in exams' or that 'for most people, handwriting is restricted to the occasional scribbled note'?
"Yes, those of us who use computers probably don't write by hand much now, but surely John Edward, director of the Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS), who was also quoted in the press release, was correct to say that, while he "backed the introduction of computers in the exam hall", handwriting should not be forgotten because "It's one of the basic literacy skills that pupils are going to need".
"Do you agree with Sarah Mooney, Principal of the London College of Graphology, who, according to the press release, said: 'Handwriting is not only a form of social communication but it is an expression of the person's personality. We would all prefer a handwritten letter, it's an expression of life. If people were able to write fluently, they wouldn't mind writing with pen and paper. If computers were to replace handwriting it means people wouldn't be able to spell because they would be able to use spell check and even grammar check on some computers.'?
"If we take the argument of those who believe that handwriting is a "dead art"/ "doesn't exist in society anymore" to its logical conclusion, does that mean that future generations of children will longer be taught to write by hand at all? Will they be physically unable to write down their thoughts and messages using a pen or pencil?
"Will the informative "scribbled note" for friends, family or work colleagues; the note for the milkman/paper deliverer, the minuted meeting notes, the emergency message note, the signature on a legal or financial document, all become redundant, even impossible, because we will lose our ability to write things by hand? Will historical researchers or amateur genealogists struggle to read old documents or census returns because they weren't typed? Will the autograph fade away?"
Do let us know your thoughts