Friday, February 6, 2009

Is Handwriting Yesterday's Skill?

Handwriting is still alive, but should it be? With all of the emphasis on curriculum, the need to cover the course of study, and prepare for the OAT, one must consider if handwriting is just a distraction. Although this is still a skill taught in school, one could question if keyboarding is a more relevant skill.

My handwriting is terrible, at best, even though my elementary teachers did their best to teach me penmanship. If I take my time, it is legible, but never without a struggle. When I write, it is almost always on the computer. When I read something, it is almost always digital. Anything that has been hand-written is usually brief, and most likely informal.

Recently, a post on the Core Knowledge blog explored this issue. Much of the argument stressed the need to continue teaching and using cursive writing. By the time I finished reading it though, I had this "do as I say, not as I do" kind of feeling. Even those that advocated the need for handwriting seemed to admit that they seldom used it themselves.

When I think about the careers that students in the sixth grade are most likely to have as adults, I am not sure that I can picture anywhere handwriting plays a vital role. However, technology will most-likely be an integral part of most jobs, if not when they graduate, surely throughout their lifetime.

There is a problem though. As long as students are in school, they will need to write legibly. Tests and journals will be written for grades. If teachers cannot read the writing, or have to struggle to understand it, students' grades will suffer. Even though handwriting is not graded, it could affect many scores.

What do you think? Should schools still focus on handwriting? Or should more emphasis be placed by schools on catching up with the rest of the world?


Cassy said...

I'm conflicted here. There is absolutely no time at all to teach handwriting to my 4th graders. For now, they are printing everything. I require them to be as neat as possible. Once "the test" is over (May) and the prepping nonsense if overwith, I've promised them we'll work on cursive daily, the rest of the school year. Of course, that means a meager 20 min or so. Truly, there is no time, even then.

I suppose they need "real-world" skills more - technology is making our students' realities so different, we MUST keep up. My students are ELLs, lower econ. status, additional needs, etc. and so, handwriting is the least of my worries, and technology my main concern, as I don't want them to be left behind in this realm.

Mr. McGuire said...


Great points. To me, there is no easy answer to this problem. The one thing I know though, teachers don't get challenged regarding their techniques in teaching handwriting, but there are a lot of questions about preparing students for the test.

Anonymous said...

Hand writing is very important for students to learn, because someday they need to know how to sign their name. They can"t cash a pay check if they don"t know how to sign their name. Any body can type or print but it is hard to sign your name the same way as anybody else. I've been talking with some other parents whose children gradulated from LOGAN ELM who couldn"t sign their own name.

Mr. McGuire said...


Thank you for commenting. Students in my class have to know how to sign their name. That is part of every assignment when they write a letter.

As a teacher, I am amazed that students come to school (even in the sixth grade) and don't know their street address, or zip code, or how to spell the name of the town where they live.

I am not sure whose responsibility this is, but as a parent, if one of my kids didn't know how to sign their name, or know their address, I would make sure they learned it.

The only way school works, is if parents and teachers work together. That is one of the things I like best about writing a blog. Parents that read this regularly know what we are doing in the class, and topics we discuss like the recent one on grammar.

And, caring parents like you can bring up issues that are important as we all work together to make LOGAN ELM the best possible!

Anonymous said...

I don't like to write on paper. When I write on paper no one can under stand it. Writing on paper is harder for me to do because I can't think for some reason.

I can write more on a computer because I can think better. People can read what I have wrote on a computer.

I think writing on a computer is better than writing on paper. I can write longer because my fingers don't cramp up that fast

Anonymous said...

I think that hand writing is very important. Plus you don't type on the OAT any ways,you write!

Anonymous said...

I think that hand writing is the most important thing. Because as a teacher some things you have to grade by hand writing and if you don't no how to wright then you cant grade them. And like Taylor said you don't type on the oat

Anonymous said...

I hope that we do more writing on a piece of paper rather than doing everything on the computer. We need to write on paper so we can learn how to write neatly because, we may need to fill out paper work in the future to get a good job and they might think you are sloppy because your hand writing is sloppy. They could think that your sloppy because they see sloppy work. You'll have a better chance as a neat writer.