Handwriting skills on decline

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Increased computer use is being blamed for the decline in handwriting skills among secondary school students. Ross Huggard, the vice-president of the Victorian Association for the Teaching of English claims that poor handwriting skills have become such a big problem that some students can’t even read their own writing.

Naturally the increased use of technology has reduced the amount of time students spend literally putting pen to paper. This means that the cursive style of writing learned in primary school is quickly forgotten in their senior years, with some students reverting to block letters on the few occasions they are required to write. This causes problems when they sit exams that require long periods of handwriting because block letters take a lot longer to write than the more fluent cursive style.

This raises concerns that the art of handwriting could be on the way out. Does this concern you? Should children be encouraged to do more work with pen and paper? Will handwriting become a thing of the past by 2030? Do you still regularly write in the cursive style?

Further information

Teachers lament faltering pens

Things are getting out of hand

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Total Comments: 15
  1. 0

    I started working on the telephone exchange in 1971 and that`s when my writting went downhill! We had to write the dockets, for most places you still had to book your calls through an operator, connect calls, tell someone their 3 mins where up and did they want to extend if so put the money in the box, find out the hours the tiny country exchanges where open, etc, etc, etc!!! My writting, never all that good, became so bad and as I`ve got older it`s even worse if possible. I still do write a bit but it is only a little. Most of my letters I type on the computer and print them out, even the envelopes. My shopping list, which I usually manage to leave behind, is written out as is Christmas and birthday cards but very little else.

  2. 0

    I retired from teaching ten years ago and still do some casual relief teaching. The standard of handwriting in grades 5 and 6 has deteriorated so much because handwriting skills are no longer taught and practised at these levels. Students are allowed to use any style of writing they like. It is shame that the Education Department has allowed this to happen. In my class we pracised our handwriting every day and my students took pride in their written work. High standards of handwriting skills should be a priority. We should not rely just on computers.

  3. 0

    At school we had competitions in writing a short story from our readers & the one with the neatest handwriting was acknowledged with a small gift & of course praised by our teacher in front of our class mates. I know it sounds like I am patting myself on the back lol but I still like to hear comments regarding my lovely handwriting & I am 70yrs. There is nothing nicer than receiving a legible personal handwritten letter.

  4. 0

    Students start learning typing on their computers before they have mastered good writing skills.

  5. 0

    Spare a thought for students struggling with the impact of Aspergers Syndrome on their schooling. Most have great difficulty with hand writing. Many are competent using typing. Time bounded examinations that require hand written answers are. for these people, a nightmare and do not reflect their knowledge of the subject matter. In a maths exam they are penalised for not completing the set questions for lack of time, not lack of knowledge, because they cannot write quickly enough.
    The system has quite some way to go to embrace technology as a tool for written communication like a pencil.

  6. 0

    I feel that it is very important that we all learn, use, practice writing skills. My reasoning is that it only takes things like power shutdowns, warfare to name a couple whereby to get info to other areas you require during these times, is to write!!!! After all, we cannot totally rely on electricity at these times. Best to be forearmed with writing skills.
    After all it is lovely to receive a letter in the mail that has been mailed from far away and sit outside under a shady tree and absorb the contents.

  7. 0

    Synergex, I understand your situation fully, my niece was nanny to a little boy with Aspergers in USA. They start therapy before the age of 2 if it is diagnosed early enough – especially speech and co-ordination. He was 18 months when she got there and he was already attending therapy for a few hours each week when she arrived. She is planning to go there early next year so she will be able to see how far he had advanced. It is a pity more consideration isn’t given to children with disabilities even if they are placed in another classroom and given extra time to do their exams. I apologise if I have caused you any distress. I have a neurological disorder which sometimes causes me to think longer than others, but I didn’t develop it until my teens so I got my basic education to a certain extent. I failed exams because of it and failed Year 11. I managed to get a job filing so I didn’t have to repeat. I can print better than doing cursive and as I get older it is getting worse. I am a “2 finger” typist, and as for computers I am everlastingly having to get my Nephew to fix my mistakes as I keep losing links etc. I hope the child you are refering to gradually achieves more skills and does as well as possible at school. Unfortunately assistance and service for such children in Aust. leave a lot to be desired. The little boy in New York was taken off all dairy products and improved his skills very quickly according to mail my niece has had from his Mother.

  8. 0

    Synergex in my post I certainly did not even think of persons whom had Aspergers or any other disabilities which would make hand writing difficult for them. To me all are created with a purpose in life. What one may not be able to attempt, that person has another wonderful reason for being here & can give much happiness & worth.
    You should look over my shoulder while I am trying to use my PC. I sure do struggle as with a lot of other things.

  9. 0

    It’s a shame but a fact that cursive handwriting is on the way out because it appears not to be being taught in most schools today. Children are taught to print, holding the pen in their hand in such a way as to prevent the fluidity of cursive. It certainly will be a thing of the past in the future and probably not required anyway due to computers being used for all written work in schools.
    See ‘Desiderata’.. this is the way it should be. I still write and love cursive writing but it won’t be required in the future.

  10. 0

    Hello Bluebell and Cherry May
    Thank you for the feedback.
    Writing from experience, early diagnosis and intervention is likely to see the little boy develop into a capable adult. They do it tough because many “normal” intuitive skills have to be learned. The outcome is more than worth the very considerable effort.
    A great book, “be Different” by John Elder Robinson, who is an Aspergian, explains a lot in simple language. Very inspiring.
    I appreciate the value of legible hand writing and the beauty of cursive; each a distinct advantage to those capable. Cursive is aesthetically pleasing but I know several people who can write more quickly than most can write cursive. To me it’s about the effectiveness of the communication. Legible writing, typing and voice activation technology are each valid within particular contexts.
    My difficulty is with time bounded assessment methods that are largely meaningless and discriminate against capable people. To extrapolate to a ridiculous example,what if Stephen Hawking was to sit for a 2 hour exam? One of the brightest minds of our time would be lucky to pass.
    Cheers and thanks.

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