Tuesday, July 14, 2009
The Lost Art of Penmanship - More Thoughts Regarding the Obvious
It is something to consider: how so many people struggle to handle a pen or pencil. Also, how atrocious so many people's handwriting is. Lastly, think about how many people really dislike writing.
I have found in my 10 years of working with all ages of writers and students that some of the frustration is that the mind works so much more quickly than the hand. The translation of thought to written word on the page is arduous for many. Slowing down the creative process to accommodate the mechanics of pen to paper is counterproductive. Add to that the basic sense of inadequacy so many people feel as writers and they are discouraged.
One way I have discovered to maintain engagement and cooperation in school settings is to get students to computers rather early in the writing process. There are many reasons for this:
1) students love computers and are used to them (at least if they are under 45);
2) they need the computer skills to survive in the 21st century and some students have limited access so school is the place where they can hone their abilities;
3) often those with attention issues will stay focused more readily; and/or
4) it is a change from the standard day, a treat of sorts, which also buys me a certain level of appreciation (a plus factor from my perspective).
This has been evidenced time and time again. I sometimes run up against the problem of not enough computers to accommodate the number of students or too many other classes reserving the computer lab so we have to plan accordingly but I want to get students to keyboards quickly. When I do, we see more productivity and creativity, as well as more willingness to complete the assignment.
I also see that I do not have to watch awkward hands hold pens and pencils in challenging positions or listen to whining. That is certainly worth it!