How amazing- we got over 100 shares on the last post about handwriting! I was so relieved to find research supporting the importance of writing by hand because, as an educator, I personally think handwriting matters. These are just some of my thoughts as I hear more and more that handwriting is being phased out of some schools:
In addition to the scientifically demonstrated connection to reading and the production and retention of ideas, handwriting matters because it is a basic form of expression. When we take the time to teach students proper handwriting, we are showing them that we value their ideas and believe they are capable of producing quality work.
From what I've understood, the Common Core State Standards are supposed to encourage creative thinking and problem-solving skills, moving away from a "one right way to do things" kind of education where students' ideas and thought processes matter. (In fact, this is stated in the “What Parents Should Know” section of their website: “The Common Core focuses on developing the critical-thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills students will need to be successful.”) Putting time and effort into teaching our children handwriting skills should be one of the first steps in establishing this kind of education.
Unlike a font typed on a computer, handwriting allows us to express our ideas in a way that is uniquely ours. This is important for children who are just beginning the process of discovering themselves and the world around them. People in general, and especially children, take pride in things they create on their own. How many refrigerators across the country are serving as galleries for children’s artwork? Teaching children legible, efficient handwriting will help them develop a sense of ownership for and pride in their work.
If we want our students to think creatively and put effort into thinking through and solving a problem, then we need our students to feel like their ideas matter and are respected. Once again, handwriting is essential to developing this mindset. We should hold our students accountable for writing legibly and efficiently. Expecting students to write neatly implies that what they are writing is worthy of being read. Neatness matters because writing is a way to share ideas; they can only be shared if others are easily able to read them. How can we ask our students to explain their thinking if we haven't given them the tool (handwriting) to do so efficiently and legibly? Not to mention what we know about handwriting increasing the production of ideas in elementary students!
I want my students to believe their ideas matter and I want them to value their own ideas enough to present them neatly. I don’t want my students to settle for just good enough; I want them to strive for their best. We encourage our students to do their best work, so we need to first give them proper instruction in handwriting so they have the ability to produce their best. By focusing on handwriting we are demonstrating that their ideas are important and deserve respect because we want them to take the time and pride to write their ideas neatly so they can be shared by others.
What are your thoughts on the importance, or lack of importance, of handwriting in school today?
How do you show your students that their ideas and efforts are valued?
What are more ways to create an environment where students strive for their best?