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Is good handwriting still an important skill to learn or should schools stop wasting...

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aqueen84 | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted December 8, 2010 at 1:12 PM via web

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Is good handwriting still an important skill to learn or should schools stop wasting time worrying about it ?

Is good handwriting still an important skill to learn or should schools stop wasting time worrying about it ?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 8, 2010 at 1:18 PM (Answer #2)

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Handwriting is still important enough that schools should keep spending time on it, at least in the lower grades.  The main reason for this is that the students will need to communicate with their teachers in written form at least up through the end of grade school.  If their writing is not legible, it will be very hard for teachers to understand what they are writing and for the teachers to teach them the subject matter that truly is important in the long term.

There is no real substitute for doing assignments by hand at the grade school level.  Much of the work is not the sort that can be easily done on a computer, even if the kids were able to type.  Because of this, the lessons must be done by hand.  As long as they are done by hand, they must be legible.

Beyond a certain level, though, there is no point to teaching handwriting.  As long as it's legible, it's good enough.

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 9, 2010 at 11:47 AM (Answer #3)

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Clearly discernible handwriting is an important skill for students to learn, especially during their formative years: pre-K and elementary school.

As a teacher, there is no substitute for clear writing, unless it is work generated by a computer. However, during tests or in-class essays, this is not generally a viable option. Teachers spend unnecessary time trying to decipher writing, when there is so much other work that needs to be done. One word is not a big deal, but when the entire assignment is nearly impossible to read, you still want to give the student credit for what he/she knows which is impossible if you cannot read it.

Looking farther down the road, having clear handwriting is also important in life. There is no doubt that computers rule the "written" word these days, but short notes to a colleague or professor that are not sent via computer, editing notes of work being reviewed for someone else, and even the almost lost art of thank-you notes requires legible writing.

The truth of the matter is that somethings are not best sent on the computer; a love letter would be a perfect example. Directions to a party would be another. Even the proverbial "note in the bottle" (in whatever form it appears) won't be much help if it cannot be read.

And if we have heard it once, we've heard it a thousand times: when am I ever going to need this? In many cases, our kids may not need to do a great deal of writing by hand. In some areas, I cannot imagine anything else. Construction, for example, will require note-taking, and being able to read it clearly is important where structural integrity is everything.

Probably the only time when unclear writing is helpful is when signing one's signature. It is harder to forge your handwriting if it is nearly impossible to copy easily.

Teaching this skill is much like teaching spelling. Some children have the natural capacity to do well, while others lack the skills—in this case, coordination. Making a decision to instruct students in "penmanship" is not an easy call if a grade is being given.

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blee0023 | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted December 10, 2010 at 5:31 PM (Answer #4)

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Clearly discernible handwriting is an important skill for students to learn, especially during their formative years: pre-K and elementary school.

As a teacher, there is no substitute for clear writing, unless it is work generated by a computer. However, during tests or in-class essays, this is not generally a viable option. Teachers spend unnecessary time trying to decipher writing, when there is so much other work that needs to be done. One word is not a big deal, but when the entire assignment is nearly impossible to read, you still want to give the student credit for what he/she knows which is impossible if you cannot read it.

Looking farther down the road, having clear handwriting is also important in life. There is no doubt that computers rule the "written" word these days, but short notes to a colleague or professor that are not sent via computer, editing notes of work being reviewed for someone else, and even the almost lost art of thank-you notes requires legible writing.

The truth of the matter is that somethings are not best sent on the computer; a love letter would be a perfect example. Directions to a party would be another. Even the proverbial "note in the bottle" (in whatever form it appears) won't be much help if it cannot be read.

And if we have heard it once, we've heard it a thousand times: when am I ever going to need this? In many cases, our kids may not need to do a great deal of writing by hand. In some areas, I cannot imagine anything else. Construction, for example, will require note-taking, and being able to read it clearly is important where structural integrity is everything.

Probably the only time when unclear writing is helpful is when signing one's signature. It is harder to forge your handwriting if it is nearly impossible to copy easily.

Teaching this skill is much like teaching spelling. Some children have the natural capacity to do well, while others lack the skills—in this case, coordination. Making a decision to instruct students in "penmanship" is not an easy call if a grade is being given.

Hi. I am actually a mom, but I am trying to be some type of help to my son.  He is in Kindergarten and I keep getting these notes home from the teacher telling me "needs to work on writing 1-25 in the CORRECT FORMATION" and "needs improvement on writing first name in CORRECT FORMATION."

My problem.  I have no clue what "correct formation" means??  I thought at first, okay, so is he writing his 2 backwards or mixing up the letters in his name?  But, those are not the problems, and he has been writing his name since he was 3 years old.  Everytime I ask for an example of the correct formation, I get brushed aside with a "yeah, I will see if I can find one" etc. 

My son will be 6 in January and he loves Science and Math.  He can rattle off all day addition, subtraction, he is even beginning to understand multiplication, which is not what he is being taught in school, but he loves it.  He has those practice workbooks you get at Walgreens, etc. for each grade level and he will actually beg me to be able to keep doing homework when I say it is time for bed - imagine that!?!?!

So, do you have any thoughts?  I do not want my son to not learn how to write 100-150 because he can't write 1-100 in the correct formation, even though he can sit and clearly write 1-100.  It is legible, hell - they have to write the letters, numbers, etc. an inch big! I want him to be all he can be.....how can I help him!?!

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 16, 2010 at 2:09 PM (Answer #5)

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Clearly discernible handwriting is an important skill for students to learn, especially during their formative years: pre-K and elementary school.

As a teacher, there is no substitute for clear writing, unless it is work generated by a computer. However, during tests or in-class essays, this is not generally a viable option. Teachers spend unnecessary time trying to decipher writing, when there is so much other work that needs to be done. One word is not a big deal, but when the entire assignment is nearly impossible to read, you still want to give the student credit for what he/she knows which is impossible if you cannot read it.

Looking farther down the road, having clear handwriting is also important in life. There is no doubt that computers rule the "written" word these days, but short notes to a colleague or professor that are not sent via computer, editing notes of work being reviewed for someone else, and even the almost lost art of thank-you notes requires legible writing.

The truth of the matter is that somethings are not best sent on the computer; a love letter would be a perfect example. Directions to a party would be another. Even the proverbial "note in the bottle" (in whatever form it appears) won't be much help if it cannot be read.

And if we have heard it once, we've heard it a thousand times: when am I ever going to need this? In many cases, our kids may not need to do a great deal of writing by hand. In some areas, I cannot imagine anything else. Construction, for example, will require note-taking, and being able to read it clearly is important where structural integrity is everything.

Probably the only time when unclear writing is helpful is when signing one's signature. It is harder to forge your handwriting if it is nearly impossible to copy easily.

Teaching this skill is much like teaching spelling. Some children have the natural capacity to do well, while others lack the skills—in this case, coordination. Making a decision to instruct students in "penmanship" is not an easy call if a grade is being given.

Hi. I am actually a mom, but I am trying to be some type of help to my son.  He is in Kindergarten and I keep getting these notes home from the teacher telling me "needs to work on writing 1-25 in the CORRECT FORMATION" and "needs improvement on writing first name in CORRECT FORMATION."

My problem.  I have no clue what "correct formation" means??  I thought at first, okay, so is he writing his 2 backwards or mixing up the letters in his name?  But, those are not the problems, and he has been writing his name since he was 3 years old.  Everytime I ask for an example of the correct formation, I get brushed aside with a "yeah, I will see if I can find one" etc. 

My son will be 6 in January and he loves Science and Math.  He can rattle off all day addition, subtraction, he is even beginning to understand multiplication, which is not what he is being taught in school, but he loves it.  He has those practice workbooks you get at Walgreens, etc. for each grade level and he will actually beg me to be able to keep doing homework when I say it is time for bed - imagine that!?!?!

So, do you have any thoughts?  I do not want my son to not learn how to write 100-150 because he can't write 1-100 in the correct formation, even though he can sit and clearly write 1-100.  It is legible, hell - they have to write the letters, numbers, etc. an inch big! I want him to be all he can be.....how can I help him!?!

If I were you, I'd sit down with the teacher and ask for a copy of the handwriting handouts she uses.  If she continues to brush you off, Google "Zaner-Bloser" for printing and "D'Nealian" for cursive.  These are the two "forms" most commonly taught in elementary school.  Bring them in to HER and ask exactly what is he doing wrong??

Anyway, in response to the original question, I am on the side that legible handwriting is necessary, and learning HOW to write in cursive is a skill we should not lose, however, I don't think cursive should be required outside of the years handwriting is taught.  I always laugh when my 9th graders ask if they have to write in cursive.  Most of them HATE it and I cannot read it.  I always say, "Write so anyone can read it.  I don't care whether it is cursive or not.  And no hearts to dot your i's, got it?"

By the time students get to high school (or certainly college) they will be typing more than writing anyway.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 17, 2010 at 3:08 PM (Answer #6)

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The question asks about handwriting, and I don't think there is anyone who lives a reasonably normal life who doesn't consistently put pen to paper at some point in their adult lives. Handwritten work should be legible and understandable to anyone who reads it; that does not mean it has to be written in cursive. Of course it should be taught. A computer will help "fix: errors; handwritten work is the last true test of what a person does and does not know--unaided--about grammar, spelling, and punctuation as well as the conventions of writing.

I'm with clairewait on the "no hearts" thing, and I would add no big "polka-dot" circles, either. 

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kapokkid | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 17, 2010 at 5:22 PM (Answer #7)

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There are two reasons that I think one still ought to learn good legible handwriting though I don't think that one need to necessarily learn beautiful cursive forms anymore.

The first is that legible handwriting is still important and useful in a variety of formats and various work and life instances.

The second is that there is still an important link between cognition and various brain activity while actually writing by hand.  The connection between hand use and cognition is still being worked out but it would be a shame to ignore that skill and the opportunity for some kids to learn to work with it.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 18, 2010 at 12:20 PM (Answer #8)

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Handwriting must not die out!  There is, indeed, as the previous poster mentions, a connection between hand use and cognition.  For instance, it seems that it truly helps a people's thought processes when they write out first what they may want to tell someone. 

Studies have also shown that people who write--not print--letters reveal more of themselves in letters.  This human, connected act of writing allows the words of the heart to enter the page.  The truth of this is evident in the published writings of past presidents and other notable people.  It is almost tragic that people print so much, for the personality of a person is demonstrated in his/her handwriting.  After all, why is that people yet must sign their names in writing, not printing?  Is this not proof of the absolute individuality of one's handwriting?

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coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted December 18, 2010 at 12:41 PM (Answer #9)

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Yes, I think if each one of us tried really hard to remember the last few actual paragraphs we wrote physically, with a pen and paper, we might be surprised to find it was a few days ago, or even more than a week ago. I tried this exercise myself just now, and was surprised to realise it was a school absence note for my son a fortnight ago! He had a sore throat and the only reason I wrote a handwriting letter was that I keep an emergency notepad and pen in the car for last minute notes as we are waiting in the morning in the car.

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rskardal | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted December 21, 2010 at 5:25 AM (Answer #10)

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Should we still teach handwriting? I have certainly seen a lot of arguments against it, and I can't help wondering whether the iPad has brought us all a little closer to the world of Star Trek: The Next Generation. A colleague of mine has begun to use his iPad when teaching, which means that he writes even less than he did before.

Having said that, I do think that there's something to be said for being able to write by hand. When my students take the AP Literature & Composition exam, they are asked to write three essays in two hours, a challenge even for the Flash. I've begun to notice that many students can only print, and I know that I would have been able to outscore those students simply because I would have written in cursive on the exam, allowing me more time to compose my thoughts and revise my work before submission.

And if nothing else, I recently spoke with a guy I went to high school with. He confessed that aside from signing his name on cheques, he has not written since graduation and has actually forgotten how to write. To some extent, writing is like riding a bicycle, but I bet he wouldn't recognize a cursive Q or Z.

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blee0023 | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted December 21, 2010 at 1:17 PM (Answer #11)

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Clearly discernible handwriting is an important skill for students to learn, especially during their formative years: pre-K and elementary school.

As a teacher, there is no substitute for clear writing, unless it is work generated by a computer. However, during tests or in-class essays, this is not generally a viable option. Teachers spend unnecessary time trying to decipher writing, when there is so much other work that needs to be done. One word is not a big deal, but when the entire assignment is nearly impossible to read, you still want to give the student credit for what he/she knows which is impossible if you cannot read it.

Looking farther down the road, having clear handwriting is also important in life. There is no doubt that computers rule the "written" word these days, but short notes to a colleague or professor that are not sent via computer, editing notes of work being reviewed for someone else, and even the almost lost art of thank-you notes requires legible writing.

The truth of the matter is that somethings are not best sent on the computer; a love letter would be a perfect example. Directions to a party would be another. Even the proverbial "note in the bottle" (in whatever form it appears) won't be much help if it cannot be read.

And if we have heard it once, we've heard it a thousand times: when am I ever going to need this? In many cases, our kids may not need to do a great deal of writing by hand. In some areas, I cannot imagine anything else. Construction, for example, will require note-taking, and being able to read it clearly is important where structural integrity is everything.

Probably the only time when unclear writing is helpful is when signing one's signature. It is harder to forge your handwriting if it is nearly impossible to copy easily.

Teaching this skill is much like teaching spelling. Some children have the natural capacity to do well, while others lack the skills—in this case, coordination. Making a decision to instruct students in "penmanship" is not an easy call if a grade is being given.

Hi. I am actually a mom, but I am trying to be some type of help to my son.  He is in Kindergarten and I keep getting these notes home from the teacher telling me "needs to work on writing 1-25 in the CORRECT FORMATION" and "needs improvement on writing first name in CORRECT FORMATION."

My problem.  I have no clue what "correct formation" means??  I thought at first, okay, so is he writing his 2 backwards or mixing up the letters in his name?  But, those are not the problems, and he has been writing his name since he was 3 years old.  Everytime I ask for an example of the correct formation, I get brushed aside with a "yeah, I will see if I can find one" etc. 

My son will be 6 in January and he loves Science and Math.  He can rattle off all day addition, subtraction, he is even beginning to understand multiplication, which is not what he is being taught in school, but he loves it.  He has those practice workbooks you get at Walgreens, etc. for each grade level and he will actually beg me to be able to keep doing homework when I say it is time for bed - imagine that!?!?!

So, do you have any thoughts?  I do not want my son to not learn how to write 100-150 because he can't write 1-100 in the correct formation, even though he can sit and clearly write 1-100.  It is legible, hell - they have to write the letters, numbers, etc. an inch big! I want him to be all he can be.....how can I help him!?!

If I were you, I'd sit down with the teacher and ask for a copy of the handwriting handouts she uses.  If she continues to brush you off, Google "Zaner-Bloser" for printing and "D'Nealian" for cursive.  These are the two "forms" most commonly taught in elementary school.  Bring them in to HER and ask exactly what is he doing wrong??

Anyway, in response to the original question, I am on the side that legible handwriting is necessary, and learning HOW to write in cursive is a skill we should not lose, however, I don't think cursive should be required outside of the years handwriting is taught.  I always laugh when my 9th graders ask if they have to write in cursive.  Most of them HATE it and I cannot read it.  I always say, "Write so anyone can read it.  I don't care whether it is cursive or not.  And no hearts to dot your i's, got it?"

By the time students get to high school (or certainly college) they will be typing more than writing anyway.

Thank you so much for answering!  Have happy holidays!

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zihala | College Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted January 2, 2011 at 6:22 AM (Answer #12)

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Good handwriting is still important. No one goes through his entire life without writing something by hand. If not cursive writing, then at least clear, legible printing needs to be taught and practised. Everyone needs the ability to produce something by hand -in some manner- that can be deciphered by anyone. In school, students can do most of their written assignments via computer but there are always going to be some in-class writing assignments, even if these are only essay questions on a test. I teach college and I tell students when they begin these essay tests: If I can't read, it's wrong.

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jyerian | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 30, 2011 at 8:17 PM (Answer #13)

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This is such a touchy subject. It depends upon what you mean by "good". If good means neat and legible, yes students should be taught neat, legible handwriting. I truly do not believe that handwriting should be expected to look as perfect as the textbooks make the writing look. My philosophy was as long as I could read it, make out what it was, it was good enough for me. Yes students do need to write, either in cursive or print. But in this day and age of computers, perfection is not a necessity. As long as they can sign their name legally, they will do just fine.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 2, 2011 at 10:16 PM (Answer #14)

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Handwriting teaching can be a very controversial issue.  At my school, the elementary teachers complained because the secondary teachers were no longer requiring cursive even though they focused on it heavily.  Cursive writing has its benefits, as it is faster than printing.  This can be valuable for essay tests later on.  It is also good for the brain developmentally.  Ultimately, learning cursive gives kids options.  I have some that prefer cursive to printing.

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hornballcoach33 | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 3, 2011 at 4:58 PM (Answer #15)

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Yes! Hand writing is as vital as it ever was to being an educated person. I work with college students every day, and I can say that it is not being taught or maybe enforced at the high school and lower levels. It is often that we can not read the names on written test that are handed in to us.  A person has to be educated to make it in the world, and it is becoming apparent to us in education that far too many young adults can not function without a computer and that is sad.  

The schools should teach hand writing at the middle school and high school level. I have a degree in middle school education and can say that we had no training in teaching children to write or even spell. The over-emphasis on math and science has taken away from writing and spelling, but that should not be an excuse. 

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EternalTwilight | Student | Honors

Posted February 4, 2011 at 2:36 AM (Answer #16)

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I certainly agree that learning and practising handwriting should be compulsory in all schools. Although I know that many students claim it is irksome--seeing that I'm one myself--it is crucial. Some may say that in the future, nothing will be written by hand, but if you need to write something down (contact numbers and emails etc.), handwriting is necessary.

The only thing that is needed is for the handwriting to be legible.

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fm-alchemist | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted June 29, 2011 at 11:42 AM (Answer #17)

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if a teacher thinks its bad then the student knows its bad and most likely wants to fix it

 

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crystaltu001 | Student, Grade 10 | Valedictorian

Posted August 16, 2014 at 6:37 AM (Answer #18)

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I think that handwriting is something that is important, because sometimes when you are writing certain things in class penmanship is very important. Sometimes people can not read what you have wrote because of your handwriting so you have to make sure that your handwriting is neat and people can actually read what you wrote.

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William Delaney | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 7, 2014 at 4:33 PM (Answer #19)

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Handwriting is obviously an important skill to learn. It separates civilized people from savages. It is especially important in college for taking notes and writing bluebook exams. But good handwriting is pretty much a matter of the individual. He or she might learn good handwriting in elementary school and allow it to deteriorate over the years. Girls always have much better handwriting than boys because girls care more about such things and also because they have what is called something like "finer small muscle control." Leo Tolstoy, the great writer, had terrible handwriting, although he must have had to practice it for years in school. His wife had to copy his novel War and Peace seven times! It could not have gone to the printer in Tolstoy's own handwritten manuscript because no printer would have been able to read it.

Just making clean copies of Tolstoy’s manuscript was a considerable job in itself. Apparently no one else in the house could make out his almost illegible handwriting. And making one clean copy was never enough, for Tolstoy would rewrite it and hand it back to her for copying again. Sonya once said she had copied the novel seven times. Since it runs to 1,453 printed pages in my edition, that means that her fair copy came to at least 3,000 manuscript pages. So she must have written down in her own careful handwriting 21,000 pages. And this does not include countless pages that Tolstoy, as his daughter Tanya noted, threw away.
                      William L. Shirer, Love and Hatred, p. 69

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