Did you know January is National Handwriting Month? I didn’t until today. However, I do know that National Handwriting Day is set for the 23rd and yet, here we have another article condemning handwriting as irrelevant in a digital age. We all know this isn’t quite true but for those who need convincing further this blog is for you.
Handwriting has never been so important in schools today, certainly those In England and Wales. Why? Because the Department of Education (DfE), through the Standards & Testing Agency (2016 teaching assessment exemplification: end of Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 English Writing) and Ofsted, is insisting every child masters fluent and legible handwriting before they leave primary school.
State education requirements aside, even in the era of iPads and smart devices, whilst children have to handwrite their SATs tests it’s so important for every child to master a clear, fluid, legible style of handwriting if their work is to be graded. While digital competence is a vital life skill, it has been proven that students are more likely to process and comprehend information better if they’ve written it down (you can read more about that on Start-Bee’s website). All the research suggests that handwriting remains an integral building block in establishing the skills needed for adulthood. And by the way, did you know that you can write quicker than you can type?
I suspect, and the author of the article says as much, that handwriting’s card is being marked by those people who weren’t taught handwriting correctly. These are the people who probably find it, literally, a pain to do. And who wants to do something that’s painful?
Handwriting wouldn’t literally be a pain if it was learned and practiced correctly and that’s using a handwriting scheme like Start-Bee that has been proven to work. Interestingly, in those schools using Start-Bee to teach handwriting successfully to pupils, the school has seen other benefits which have been directly linked to handwriting improvements: increased engagement in lessons, increased confidence and better behaviour in class. Teachers are also telling me that learning handwriting is boosting reading (not the other way round, as expected). So to throw handwriting out with the typewriter would be a very unwise thing to do.
Bottom line – taught correctly, handwriting can be fast, fluent and legible for everyone – a joy to do and a joy to read.
However, I take hope in the fact that not every media outlet is consigning handwriting to the bin right now. The Economist predicts that whilst the typewriter didn’t kill off handwriting, as was predicted back then, neither will digital devices – we’ll simply be writing on computers instead. For that reason alone we should all be getting better at writing if we want to get on in the 21st Century.
Keep writing folks!