> Mrs. O'Neill's Blog: Handwriting and Keyboarding

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Handwriting and Keyboarding

Every week I download the latest podcast from Women of Web 2 (WOW2). They have a weekly chat, Tuesdays at 9pm EST. That's the middle of the night our time so I haven’t heard one live yet. I missed the first one, called ‘Keyboarding’. It didn't sound very appealing. I couldn’t imagine how they could chat about that for a whole hour.

However, I’ve come to trust those podcasts to set me thinking about things, so I duly downloaded and listened to ‘Keyboarding’.

I am the sort of teacher who writes ‘Your target is handwriting! Present your work with more care.’ For years I’ve heard people say that typing will supersede handwriting. I’ve not been convinced. I’ve got loads of stories of disasters that all hinged on a piece of bad handwriting: doctor’s prescriptions, military coups, and NASA operations…

The chat on the podcast was discussing how important it was for schools to teach children correct keyboarding skills. They discussed the amount of sustained time children need to become proficient. They assumed that this would be necessary for all children. They weren’t advocating doing away with teaching handwriting, just seeing typing (or keyboarding) as the NEXT natural step.

I had a sort of brain freeze over the idea. Concentrate more on typing? Learn how to use the QWERTY keyboard properly? Yes, fine for people who will need that in the future. And that would be? Oops. Everyone.

What about handwriting? How often in the adult world of work do we actually rely on our handwriting? I can think of several occasions when it is nicer and perceived as ‘more caring’ to handwrite: birthday cards, a personal note at the end of a typed letter, a comment. But for anything of length, especially if we require to edit it, I think typing wins hands down.

If pupils typed efficiently, they could do all their work online. And think of the paper we would save.

Good grief. Next I will be (gulp) reading books online.


Christine (gpm) said...

It's very difficult to imagine curlling up in bed with a computer instead of a book... As for hand writing, my eldest's writing & presentation is appalling! The geography teacher once told us at parents' evening that he had a nice tidy jotter and we gawped in disbelief. "Well, he is a boy!" came the retort.

Mrs. O'Neill's Blog said...

I think the book is just one of those things we will have to keep...

The problem with the handwriting issue for me is that I know it will impact exam results in English -where pupils still write out their essays and close reading answers. Pupils with indecipherable writing can get scribes, but 'legible albeit messy' still get judged alongside others. Examiners are told to focus on content -but examiners are only human, and studies show they don't always do that...
Personally I would like the exam to be typed by all -level playing field.
I have two boys and handwriting is a favourite topic ;)

Anonymous said...

Could you curl up in bed with a bit of paper?

My Uni course has an optional class which teaches shorthand. Whilst I'll probably take the class because it's free, it does seem a little redundant. In a few years I imagine that speech-recognition software and hardware will be good enough to completely replace shorthand.