Is the writing on the wall for the teaching of handwriting or is there something behind the silky, inky lines that may make ‘mark-making’ fundamental and not just ornamental?
In our daily lives almost all of our business and personal communication seems to have been outsourced to devices. We type or tap emails, tweets, status updates, generate speech-to-text, tell Siri what we need, Skype chat or even, shock horror, use a phone.! Our students similarly engage with their world through touch, gesture and voice. No pens on paper required at all!
I remember as a beginning career teacher carefully ruling faint pencil lines on my first chalkboard at Fraser Park Primary to make sure my chalk linked script lesson was up to scratch. Within a year I was handwriting on a clear sheet of plastic projected by the overhead projector and a few years after that, using projection units with Powerpoint.
The practice of students carefully copying letters and sentences from a chalkboard or whiteboard appears to be a thing of the past. Teaching perfect ‘slopes’ and proper links in cursive writing is no longer a priority. It would seem with the advent of new technologies like tablets and smartphones, handwriting has become something of a lost art.
Is this a naturally evolution of communication modes in this increasing digitized world or, could we be at risk of throwing the baby androids out with the bathwater? Touch and gesture, keyboard and mouse seem to dominate computer input interfaces currently. Stubby stylus’s occasionally replace worn fingers on tablets and mobile screens but, what about the pen? Is it time to dip the nib in the e-ink?
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