This article was emailed to me a few days ago. I respectfully acknowledge the author, Julia Calixto as I do not know the original source of the document.
As computer-based learning in classrooms continues to grow, handwriting is used less and less. The trend has some questioning if the writing’s on the wall for the age old practice.
By Julia Calixto
29 AUG 2014 – 5:11 PM
At St Andrew’s Cathedral School in Sydney, students are learning Shakespeare.
Some, like year 9 student Anthony Segaert, are using tablets and computers as well as pens and paper to study the centuries old text.
“We watch videos in class, we do lots of typing, we use mind maps, it’s really easy for us to interact with our teachers more, like when didn’t have iPads in the classroom,” he said.
Richard Ford has been teaching for 15 years and said in that time he’s witnessed a digital revolution in schools.
“I’ve seen a huge amount of change with technology in classrooms from when I started, when there was very little, to now, where every student’s carrying a device,” Mr Ford said.
Students at St Andrew’s are encouraged to bring and use the technology of their choice. It’s a policy that’s been adopted by many schools across the country.
Dr Phil Lambert from the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) believes schools are in a transitional phase.
“I visit schools a lot and some I see virtually all digital work occurring, yet in other schools I see books with pens out, pencils out,” he said.
“I think it varies and overtime once again, I think we’ll see is a transition of far more digital.”
ACARA’s head of assessment and reporting, Dr Stanley Rabinowitz, said handwritten assessments will also be phased out in the future.
“Online assessments research shows, including research we’ve done at ACARA, is more engaging for students,” he said.
“I think once we work out the logistic issues, once we have enough devices, people will get very excited about it to see their students engaged.”
While schools have no plans to drop writing as a fundamental skill, more students are opting to type rather than write.
Some education research suggests there are strong links between writing and broader educational development.
Author and design teacher Zoe Sadokierski said while using computers may be more efficient but hand writing enables people to explore ideas and thoughts.
“On a computer it’s always letter by letter, word by word, sentence by sentence and it’s very linear,” she said.
“We don’t think in a linear way. It’s very rare that an idea comes to you fully formed and sequential.”
“Usually what happens is it comes in fits and bursts and you have to figure out on paper where you’re going.”
Benefits to writing are emphasised at the Sydney School of Languages, where ancient writing systems are still taught.
Japanese Calligraphy teacher, Toshiko Jackson, said students must be focused and calm when writing calligraphy.
“It’s much more meaning than a printed letters. Calligraphy is one of the highest forms in expressing thoughts and sometimes conviction,” Toshiko Jackson said.
But whether it’s elegant script, or tapping on a tablet, teachers have no plans yet to say “pens down” for good.