handwriting skills
What's the status of handwriting skills in schools? Source: Philip Dezmazes/AFP

One of the pressing concerns of 21st century educators is that school students’ handwriting skills are being neglected, with technology being seen as a disruption to manual writing practices in the classroom.

Naturally, with temptations of typing, swiping and scrolling on the screen, it’s no surprise that handwriting skills are under threat.

Are handwriting skills here to stay? Source: Yu Wei/Unsplash

Handwriting skills must remain prevalent in schools

For Google Certified Educator, Samantha Ryker, it’s important that students hold onto their writing skills and persevere through the temptations of typing and tablet swiping.

“Recently, my students were studying science vocabulary words in class to prepare for a quiz. Back in the olden days when I went to school, I would have copied the words down by hand and re-written the definition in my own words. But my students took a picture with their phone. To study later. From a picture on their phone.

“And when I suggested they actually (gasp!) use their hands to write down the definitions, they balked. What do you mean write it down? On paper? I don’t have any paper. Or a pen. Cue exasperated sigh.”

A worrying reality for parents and educators alike, handwriting skills are easily neglected since introducing shiny new tablets and laptops into the classroom – just as Ryder has experienced.

Yet, in a Big Story (BS) podcast, there’s a lot more to handwriting than meets the eye.

And as discussed by the BS team and guest Professor Hetty Roessingh, “New research is starting to show us the real purpose of handwriting—and it has to do with the way our brains process tasks. It turns out that annoying, painful cursive practice is what allows us to make the physical part of writing automatic and free our mind to concentrate on the meaning of what we’re putting on the page.”

Helping students’ to free their thoughts and focus on the information they’re jotting down, handwriting is a beneficial educational process and in no way a senseless task.

There’s always an opportunity to combine both methods

If schools have swum too deep into the technological whirlpool and heavily depend on learning technologies in their classrooms, why not merge the methods together?

For instance, by downloading handwriting apps and using a digital stylus, students can keep traditional writing methods and technological writing methods intertwined.

“I also advocate for the use of iPads and a stylus to write notes directly into a device (in consideration of the trees). With this method, students can write notes into a file that they can later access. They still benefit from physically selecting information to write in their notes,” Ryder advises.

And by switching off quick writing tools like Grammarly in classrooms, school students will have to start relying on their literacy skills without the temptation to autocorrect.

In fact, an interesting revelation in the tech sphere is the combination of famous musicians’ handwriting styles and free-to-use typefaces.

Made possible by French graphic designers Julien Sens and Nicolas Damiens, the typeface features letters, numbers and symbols, which are intended to inspire songwriters through writing in the handwriting of their favourite musician.

Infusing tech with traditional writing styles keeps the beauty of handwriting alive and inspires people to practice their own on paper.

There’s still hope for handwriting

Recently, the Handwriting Pens-Global Market Status and Trend Report 2013-2023 was released by Pioneer Reports.

The good news is that sales of handwriting pens are booming worldwide.

Covering market characteristics, segmentation, regional breakdowns, competitive landscape, market shares, trends and strategies for this market, the report restores faith in fleeting handwriting skills and promises steady usage growth of handwriting pens.

Counteracting claims that technology kills writing skills, handwriting remains prevalent in the global school sector as purchases of pens continue.

And funnily enough, for some parents, it isn’t the threat of technology they fear when it comes to their child/children’s handwriting skills, it’s fake nails…

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