A libertarian inclined blog for teachers and learners of all ages. Comments, emails and links to other educational stuff welcome.

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Next entry: Mixing learning with work
Previous entry: Eee PCs in the classroom
Saturday December 01 2007

Inspired by Michael Jennings’s comment on this posting about pencils, I did a posting on Samizdata, repeating his question.  What use is handwriting? I got exactly the comment harvest I wanted, even if a few did say that it was rather late to be asking, wasn’t it?  I would say: no.  After all, most children are still taught handwriting, and it is accordingly still worth asking whether that’s still necessary.  Interestingly, a few commenters denounced it as a stupid question, but some said handwriting was obviously essential, and another said it was obviously pointless, for the (I think) rather fatuous reason that he personally now made no use of it.

What emerged was the perhaps rather surprising consensus that people who use only words – people like me actually – can get by happily without much handwriting.

In general, the mathematicians all agreed that they needed handwriting.

And where handwriting is most necessary is if you are adding written words to things you have drawn, like an engineer, say.  Typing stuff onto some kind of diagram would just be too inconvenient.  One commenter pointed out that the logic of the latest technology means that you can now scan stuff very easily, and that a characteristic modern way to communicate your ideas is to draw and write on old-fashioned paper (rather than on some modernistic but still very clumsy gadget) and then just scan what you’ve done.  He has returned to the fountain pen, he said.

Today I purchased some pencils with rubbers on their ends, and a combined rubber and pencil sharpener, for my expeditions to Kings Cross every Tuesday.