Why teach handwriting in the digital age?

Is handwriting soon to become obsolete?

Image: http://www.momaroo.com

Image: http://www.momaroo.com

The advent of the digital age has meant our world is changing . The way in which we
communicate has changed fundamentally from a more formal style of  letters and written correspondence to email and social media – a series of short, spontaneous messages we create and send within seconds. Our schools are beginning to see the benefits of using new technology in the classroom and the use of tablet computers to enhance the teaching and learning experience will become the norm in the next couple of years.

Kip McGrath english tutorsDoes this mean that the children of the future will no longer need to be taught how to write?  Do we no longer need to worry about the reluctant writer with illegible handwriting?  Should the teaching of handwriting just be replaced with touch typing lessons or is their still room in this new digital age for the hand-written word?

I hear it often enough from the children I tutor.  “Handwriting is boring!” or  “I don’t need to learn to write neatly because I can just use the keyboard.”  So why should your child be taught handwriting in the 21st Century?

  • Learning to write by hand has a positive impact on emergent literacy – children need the opportunity to experience the spatial orientation and formation of letters in order to learn to read and write.  Handwriting is part of a multi-sensory approach to developing literacy. Research indicates a correlation between handwriting and brain development.  So teaching handwriting to emergent readers and writers is essential for their overall literacy development.
  • I would argue that handwriting is still essential for everyday tasks – shopping lists (although I did see someone in Tesco with an iPad shopping list recently), writing a birthday card, taking down a phone message, completing a form at the bank.

Can we get by without the skill of handwriting?  Or is it soon to be a skill rendered obsolete? What do you think?

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9 Responses to Why teach handwriting in the digital age?

  1. Elaine says:

    I think it is important that children learn to write legibly and fast enough to keep up but I think the days of insisting on uniformity and spending hours learning to join up are probably over.

  2. bibliopirate says:

    I think children still should learn how to write, it is sad that my handwriting is no longer considered atrocious. Compared to people just a few years younger than myself my handwriting is now seen as downright decent.

  3. Handwriting should still be taught as research has shown that it’s a part of an overall appraoch (that causes the student to think) to developing literacy which has become a challenge.

  4. Annie Harvey says:

    hard question to ask as I sit typing this comment on my iPad, do shopping lists in my iPhone and use a digital calendar. however I have recently sent handwritten thank you cards to my clients and they have all called to say how much they appreciate them!! I just can’t imagine a classroom without handwriting!

  5. Kip Soton says:

    Reblogged this on Kip McGrath Southampton's Blog and commented:
    Handwriting can be a beautiful art form and I don’t see that it is yet obsolete. I’ve looked into the future and they still sign their iPads on Star Trek.

  6. Reblogged this on Kip McGrath Tutors Scotland Blog and commented:
    As kindles replace books, as ipads replace jotters in schools and our children learn to “text speak” on their mobile phones, I worry about the future of childrens’ literacy, grammar and handwriting. However the digital age should be embraced by teachers (it’s not going away). I wonder if in 10 years time teaching children the art of hand writing an actual letter may be part of the curriculum? I hope so.

  7. Connie Magee says:

    When teaching time for handwriting was being reduced in our local school district, my teacher friend came up with an innovative way to pair technology with traditional handwriting — a simple video (available from http://www.animatedhandwriting.com) that displays the drawing and redrawing of each letter. It made learning handwriting more efficient and faster because she could devote time to helping individual students instead of drawing letters on the board. Students got the best of both worlds, and handwriting continued to be taught in the schools.

  8. There are now some great apps available for helping with handwriting; my 5 year old daughter loves abc pocketphonic on my iphone. it has really helped her with her letter formations and general phonic awareness. I suppose, like language, the written form of communication will just continue to evolve. I do sometimes look at beautifully handwritten documents though and feel that it is a such a shame nobody writes like that anymore! Handwriting reveals so much more about a person than word processing!

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