Monday, February 20, 2012
Is Handwriting Important?
It is changing the landscape of education.
Once upon a time handwriting was an art-form, taught and practiced in schools with a rigor that was borderline obsessive. Friends, of my generation, who attended Catholic schools tell tales of strict ruler-bearing nuns who would not hesitate to rap them on the knuckles for illegible penmanship.
Today we still teach children how to hold a pencil and form letters properly but we also teach them how to use a keyboard. In fact, state standards require children to publish their writing using digital technology. Less importance is placed upon handwriting - the days of the artistry of quill and ink are gone forever.
This shift has brought about the handwriting debate. Should we even teach it anymore given the emphasis on and ease of computer-based technology?
Is handwriting important?
Several research studies suggest it is because the act of writing, forming letters with a pen rather than a keyboard, influences academic development and performance.
For young children it aids in letter recognition because it adds a kinesthetic component to an otherwise abstract concept and provides repeated opportunities to solidify learning.
In general, writing by hand has an impact on composition skills. Some studies found a correlation between handwriting fluency and writing achievement and this influence continued on past the primary grades.
And poor handwriting, no matter how brilliant a paper may be, negatively influences the reader. Presentation is a huge part of the equation. Research also supports the conviction that children with better handwriting are also more adept at using proper punctuation, capitalization and grammar.
There may be a time when pen and paper are obsolete but for now I can attest to the fact that there is nothing like getting a handwritten note in the mail. It beats an email or a text every time.