Session 210: Handwriting: The Pros and Cons

-Date: Thursday 10th July 2014 – Hosted by @JeanEd70

[pullquote]It’s more than just teaching handwriting, its creating a culture of caring for your work because it matters” @russ_cl[/pullquote]

Debates have been rife recently about whether teaching handwriting should be such an important focus in education as technologies become more proficient, with voice technology and advanced keyboards improving at an extraordinary rate.

Some people think that handwriting is an art form, with education helping to develop the skill with pupils so they are able to articulate themselves, create visual notes and reminders for revision, or general presentation purposes.

For #ukedchat, educators were invited to pen a tweet with your own handwriting. With cameras on smart phones and tablets take a photo of the handwritten tweet and post to #ukedchat. Write it down, take a photo of it, and then share on twitter via the #ukedchat hash tag.

HandwritingSessionThe session asked the following questions:

  1. (8.01) How much emphasis do you put on handwriting in your lessons?
  2. (8.11) How does your school/setting teach handwriting, from the earliest year group to the final year group? Share resources / handwriting styles.
  3. (8.21) How should teachers be positive role-models when promoting handwriting and presentation?
  4. (8.31) Handwriting is irrelevant. The key point should be the learning and composition of a text. Discuss.
  5. (8.41) How do you support pupils who seem to have messy handwriting?
  6. (8.51) Final thoughts: Complete this sentence – Handwriting is (no longer) relevant because…


Appropriately, the Session Summary was handwritten by co-host @JeanEd70… (story continues below image)…

Handwriting Summary


But don’t panic, the summary is also in a digital version:

This discussion followed on from #PenATweet day on July 1st and gave the opportunity to explore some of the issues related to handwriting in learning and teaching.

The discussion was active, wide ranging and passionate, conducted in both typed tweets and photos of handwritten comments. One of the main themes was the balance between appearance (neatness, legibility, style) vs content (quality, accuracy, subject knowledge). This led to discussion of the need for the reader, whether its ourselves or others, to be able to read the writing: teachers need to be able to read their pupils’ writing; pupils need to be able to read their teachers’ writing. In maths numerals must be written clearly and legibly.

Another key part of the discussion was the impact of technology (word processing, tablets, typing, voice recognition) on the use of pen and paper – lots of advantages to typing including legibility, ability to edit, speed, preparation for the world of work and on the other hand not being dependent on a device that needs to be charged, immaculate typing /poor content. This led into some talk of the personal nature of handwriting flowing from a question about whether we are judged by the appearance of handwriting. The ability to use our writing to express our creativity and personality, part of our identity, experiencing or giving the joy of receiving a handwritten letter and a reference back to @ottleyoconnors personal story contributed during #PenATweet which led him ultimately to challenge inequality and support learners to achieve their potential.

Tweeters listed a number of different teaching strategies used with children – pre-cursive, practising little and often, learning main joins and exits and entrances, developing fine motor control and aiming for neatness and speed to be useful in exams. Aiming to embed good handwriting early so bad habits didn’t have to be unlearned was identified as important. There was mention of a ‘pen licence’ and ‘neat treats’ and memories of writing lines as a punishment. Also some of us recalled handwriting our reports to parents at the end of each year – personal to the parent but challenging for the teacher!

There was discussion of using resources to support learners – writing slopes, space, angles paper and pencil grips as well as the stress and smudging involved in writing as a left hander.

The phrase ‘mastering speed whilst maintaining neatness’ was used – a good summary aim perhaps – as was the idea that good handwriting is part of creating a culture of caring for your work.

It was so interesting to read back through the #ukedchat as I had missed the end whilst dismantling our TeachMeet. Thanks to all who participated!

Eye-Catching Tweets from the session:

  • ‘handwriting is relevant because it is as unique as a fingerprint’
  • ‘handwriting is relevant because it is quicker to get a new pen than it is to recharge a flat ipad or laptop.’
  • ‘handwriting is relevant because despite new methods it is and always will be the way humans communicate’
  • ‘everyone should know the joy a handwritten letter can bring’
  • ‘there is something liberating and beautiful about capturing our ideas on paper in our own writing.’
  • ‘that moment has defined my professional life. I’m driven to challenge inequality and support those with need’

Tweet of the Week:

A personal favourite of mine was by @russ_cl

  • ‘its more than just teaching handwriting, its creating a culture of caring for your work because it matters’

About your Host:

@JeanEd70: I am a Senior Lecturer in the School of Education at the University of Northampton and before that I was a teacher and latterly Headteacher in primary and lower schools. Last week @TeacherToolkit and I launched #PenAtweet day which many people contributed to.

The Storify from the session…

Archive: The archive only saves tweeted comments, but cannot show the images people shared. For this, please see the Storify above.

#ukedchat Archive on Handwriting Discussion

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The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

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