Learning for the future or schooling of the past?

It was with great shock and then anger that I learned from my nephew that his school makes him hand write his essays. He is in year 10. I tweeted this out and the conversations that ensued were very interesting and enlightening..

 

 As we live 60kms apart, I rely on Google Docs for tutoring him in his essay writing, so he has to type up his responses for me to comment on and then handwrite his work to be handed in. Surely this time could be better used? If plagiarism is an issue, there are tools for that. It’s bad enough that 13 years of schooling is geared towards the year 12 exams, but having to handwrite essays in my opinion, is a waste of time and opportunities. What are your thoughts?

 

4 thoughts on “Learning for the future or schooling of the past?

  1. I’m all for the efficiency and power of the typed word and would never wish for Year 10’s (let alone Year 12’s) to have to handwrite all of their essays but I am also shocked by the absolute horror in the responses I’ve seen. Isn’t there any appreciation at all for the skill of handwriting itself? We should be able to communicate without technology too. Can’t the handwritten essay be scanned? Ironically, I had a student who had handwritten her essay who had to type it up for the teacher. As for me, I thank God every day that I don’t have to handwrite, proofread and then re-handwrite everything I ‘write’ (like I used to at Uni in the 90’s) but I also know I can’t handwrite as well as I used to and do it very rarely. I think that’s a loss of a skill. Maybe we should encourage kids to practise both.

  2. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a scanner. My handwriting has also degenerated over the years, probably due to lack of use and it is a skill that will die out. But so has horse riding, pretty much, which was once a vital skill in getting from A to B. We don’t need it now, unless we want to learn it for its own sake. I think this will happen to writing too.

  3. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a scanner. My handwriting has also degenerated over the years, probably due to lack of use and it is a skill that will die out. But so has horse riding, pretty much, which was once a vital skill in getting from A to B. We don’t need it now, unless we want to learn it for its own sake. I think this will happen to writing too. We don’t mourn the loss of skills cars have brought us, in 50 years time, we probably won’t mourn the loss of skills computers have brought us. Just being in the middle of the maelstrom changes our perspective to what it might be from a distance.

  4. Good to see this stirred up Judith. I think the issue is less about handwriting and more about issues of choice and trust. The reliance on hand writing simply reflects the idea that it is more authentic and more about the brain communicating directly with the hand – of course this is an out-dated notion. The same could be said of NAPLAN. At the end of the day, education just isn’t disruptive enough. The approaches to assessment and what counts for intelligence on one day, on one isolated topic, on information that has been memorised are far too well established. If you don’t trust kids to use the tools that best helps answer the question, and provide them with good choices, then we’ll still be batting this issue out in another 10 years.

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