handwriting vs touchscreen?

I had a conversation with my dad this morning about how important is a neat handwriting is when comes to exams and this particular issue is begging me to deliberate. You see, as teachers we require students to write at length and with the advent of IPad and touchscreen phones, we do suffer through an accelerating rate of poor handwriting and the lazy attitude of students to write more than a page. I could safely attest that students fail to perform well during exams because their handwriting is completely unreadable ( or rather, lack of ANY writing! ). I used to think that an unintelligible piece of write up is a reflection of one’s cognitive ability but that’s not entirely true because majority of people are exposed to keyboards and now, touch screen gadgets. Can you blame progress? That said, poor handwriting does reflect your personality traits and it could impose dire problems in later life (like taking notes and answering exam papers.) Technology changes but it can’t replace the fact that a decent handwriting is a substantial skill.

model taken from http://www.mankeslaw.com

When I was little, my mom used to whack my fingers with a stick when I couldn’t get my ‘a’ and ‘g’ circled right while writing. We used to practice on those alphabet books and she would wait on me for hours until I managed an accurate image of the letter. I used to get frustrated but fear really works and till today, I do get praises for my neat handwriting. Not that it serves as an extension of my personality (I’m still as lazy as hell) but it helps get me across especially when filling up forms, etc.
Correct me if I’m wrong but presumption goes that modern children’s poor handwriting is due to lack of training from parents at early age. I’m not preaching my mom’s method (it was extreme to be honest!) but I totally disagree with some who uses the tablet computer to teach their youngs how to handwrite! As today’s parents, what our children lack is our attention and we quickly distract them with touchscreen gadgets to fill the void of not being there. The instant gratification of having our toddlers managed a computer game in those gadgets we supply outweigh the prospect of breeding in them the “short-span-of-attention” syndrome. Trust me, in later years when they have reach school age, asking them to write a neat decent paragraph will become a mammoth task to both teachers and parents.

The other day my niece asked me to get an Ipad for lil’ Aisyah because it’s quite trendy now seeing toddlers and teenagers playing with educational software in it. Given that I could afford it, yes, what parent would deny what’s best for their child right? But I do believe there is a time for everything. Anyone can point and poke at some interface but introducing toddlers too soon will probably incur the price of poor handwriting (not forgetting at the expense of parents wallet!) Being both a language teacher and a parent do give me an insight of what the future holds for these children. My advice is, allow them to grow just like we did once, introduce the techno-paraphernalia a bit later but don’t treat computer as an end that justifies every means. It’s all about balance I suppose.

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3 thoughts on “handwriting vs touchscreen?

  1. agreed! Of course some will argue handwriting is only practical at school level but when they grow up and reach higher learning all assignments are required to be typed and emailed. No point arguing with this mindset because they are probably hooked on the net all the time to notice how terrible their children’s handwriting are – which ultimately, torture the eyesights of us teachers, right?
    Thanks for the link Escape. 🙂 hope you had a great new year!

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