OPINION: The futility of handwriting in schools


Jared Sindt

In these changing times, is teaching students to write by hand still necessary? Photo courtesy of Little Writing Company.

As our world continues to make advancements in technology, a difficult question must be asked. Is there a point to teaching handwriting in schools?

Ten years ago, this wouldn’t have been a question, as we were just beginning to get computers in elementary schools. Nowadays, however, every student has their own iPad they can bring home when their teacher sees fit.

Handwriting is a tool that is rarely seen past the high school level. Throughout my college career, I can say with confidence that I have never had to write out an essay with a pencil, or anything more than two pages.

Now, this isn’t to say that handwriting is not of importance. At an early age, handwriting is an important cognitive function that kids need to learn to develop.

According to Reading Rockets website, “Just as effortful word decoding may impair reading comprehension, or lack of automatic recall may reduce the mental resources available for learning advanced computational algorithms in math, labored handwriting creates a drain on mental resources needed for higher-level aspects of writing, such as attention to content, elaboration of details and organization of ideas.”

As well as cognitive function, handwriting is used in daily life and is an important part of other subjects. This is a very strong point for handwriting in schools, but is it enough to save it?

I personally believe that handwriting isn’t necessary past the middle school era of education. It’s important to learn the basics and understand how handwriting works, but it’s not a necessity past that.

Everything is done on computers nowadays, and instead of handwriting at the high school level, more typing courses and understanding of technology should be offered in its place.

I can honestly say that I have learned more about typing through gaming on my PC than I ever did in school, and for such an important skill, that shouldn’t be the case.

Obviously, change is never easy and telling teachers to teach technology skills versus using the standard pen and paper might be difficult, but in the long run, students will be better off for it.

Getting rid of handwriting doesn’t take away the importance of the written word, or even nullify classes, such as English, that require it. It merely shifts the focus to bringing those important aspects into the future by having students develop the necessary technology skills that they will use for the rest of their lives.