Handwriting skills on decline

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.

handwriting, decline of, education, Australia, technology

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





    COMMENTS

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    Tathra
    26th Mar 2012
    1:37pm
    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.
    capricorn
    26th Mar 2012
    5:49pm
    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.
    PJ
    26th Mar 2012
    6:14pm
    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.
    Bluebell
    26th Mar 2012
    7:27pm
    Students start learning typing on their computers before they have mastered good writing skills.
    synergex
    27th Mar 2012
    11:02pm
    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.
    MAC22
    28th Mar 2012
    9:01am
    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.
    Bluebell
    28th Mar 2012
    2:04pm
    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.
    PJ
    28th Mar 2012
    5:59pm
    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.

    28th Mar 2012
    9:56pm
    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.
    synergex
    29th Mar 2012
    9:26am
    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.
    PJ
    29th Mar 2012
    10:45am
    You are most welcome synergex.
    Bluebell
    1st Apr 2012
    10:31am
    synergex, I would be very interested in getting and reading the book. Do you remember where you got it from if you got it from a well known "bookshop"? I live in Adelaide so if it is a National Group it will be wonderful. I don't know whether or not you watch a TV Program called Parenthood. When the show started the boy in it had very limited skills including speech. He has an usually method of arriving at arithmetic answers but always gets them right. The other kids tease him and give him very hard ones to do - they must work them out in advance- but he is a real whiz at them. Exams suck !! even more for children who are unable to write quickly. I don't know if children still do them but we had to do projects. They may be what is now called assignments.
    Hours of writing and often days of reading, looking for pictures etc. and they always have a due date. A friend of mine had a disabled daughter who although in a "special" class still had to do them. Her parents did most of the hard yards and the lass had to do all of the writing part of it. Her Mother was a volunteer in charge a large Girls Brigade group but resigned because she simply didn't have time to do all of the behind the scenes work. I found out that she was finding it hard and helped do some of it, but I was doing year 11 and had a mininum of 3 hours homework each night. Her daughter was only about 9 y.o. at stage. It was ridiculous giving the children projects. The majority of her class all had intellectual disabilities. It stinks that your son and others are not given more time to do their exams. It prevents their talents and skills being recognised
    Kiri
    1st Apr 2012
    4:54pm
    While it would be good to think we don't need to write out things like we used to, what a tragedy to allow that fundamental skill to be lost. And don't get me started on spelling! What hope have the kids of today got, because their teachers can't spell either.
    synergex
    2nd Apr 2012
    7:51am
    Bluebell. The book is from our local library. I live in Qld. Details are: Be Different. Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian with Practical Advice for Aspergians, Misfits, Families and Teachers.
    John Elder Robinson 2011. A Bantam book published by Random House Australia 2011. ISBN 978 1 86471 231 5 (pbk). Have not watched Parenthood.
    I am not an expert. My personal opinion is that aspergers, especially low level, is a different way that person's brain functions and should be viewed as just that, different.
    In our case we brought the condition to the attention of the schools. It was fortunate that his teachers, especially grades 3 and 4 had a genuine empathy. Our belief is that the level of understanding provided by his Grade 3 teacher turned his life around. That teacher should be nominated for sainthood.
    Three hours set homework for a 9 year old borders on child abuse. Homework is often set to meet the expectations of il-informed parents rather than to benefit the child.
    We found mainly caring, good to great teachers out there who get hamstrung by a system geared to the median and political realities. My view is that project based is a more suitable assessment method but becomes problematic with the time constraints. However, I doubt that convenient, measurable, standardised reporting will change anytime soon.
    We found that remaining in touch with the schools increased the understanding, kept up the awareness levels and was some help. It's a delicate and challenging task to diplomatically and strongly advocate for your child while retaining an empathy for the demands on the teaching and support staff.
    All the above is only my opinion based upon our, mostly good, experiences with good people trying to get a fit with a system generally unsuited to the needs of Aspergians. However, it is not a lost cause. We found working with the schools and perseverance has helped our 17 year old develop into a wonderful, intelligent and insightful young man.
    Bluebell
    2nd Apr 2012
    9:01am
    You are to be congratulated for perservering with the school and achieving good results which have benefited your son and probably many like him. I cannot begin to imagine how frustrating it must have been. The children involved often get very frustrated so much so that some throw a tantrum which appears to be for no obvious reason, especially if communication is also an issue. I recommend the TV program for any parent or relative of a child with Aspergers or other types of intellectual disability. It is a show which the difficulties of a child, also family using different methods in assisting the child and coping themselves. In the beginning it showed the parents having consults with different DRs., trying to get diagnosis and answers to their questions re treatment, therapies etc. available. I think it was made in USA.. Methods the parents were shown to use, then an in-house therapist who used different methods, showed the parents where the information they had originally was not the right way to go with their child, how he was home-tutored for 1 year, then advised he could go to a main-stream school and the challenges finding one that would accept him and his hard road but great progress. It has given me great insight into the condition (I don't know of a better word to use). back to reality !! When my niece started work in USA she requested a meeting with the boy's therapists to find out what methods they used in helping him. She was also allowed to sit at the back of the "classroom" and observe, and was lucky enogh to be able to sit in on parts of a few meetings with therapists etc. while the little boy was at one of his sessions. His parents gave up their original professions in outside employment and set up their own consultancy which they ran from their home. My niece's main roles were taking the children to and from therapy and the eldest one to other activities and caring for them at other times. Apart from that the parents got up to the children at night if the need arose. They always all had their meals together especially dinner at night.


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