Student Story: Schools See The Progression From Pencil Shavings To Sticky Keys

By: Johanna Baronowitz, Egg Harbor Township High School

Photo courtesy of Johanna Baronowitz and Star Gage.

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, N.J. — How important is handwriting education, really? With the decline of handwriting being taught in schools, the debate continues to rise. Forty-two states and the District of Columbia adopted the Common Core State Standards, which only requires handwriting instruction in kindergarten and first grade. After first grade, only keyboarding skills are required. The Common Core curriculum also has no mention of cursive instruction at all. 

Many high school students can barely recall being taught handwriting in their schooling, with most estimating that they learned the basics in kindergarten, but not much else. 

“I might have learned cursive in third grade. I’m not really sure,” stated Iliana Todorovski, a senior in Egg Harbor Township High School. Sophomore, Jayna Moskovitz, said she “Can’t seem to recall ever being taught cursive.” However, all the students interviewed said the same thing – they were definitely taught how to type. 

Is this alarming, or is it a sign of the times? As technology in schools increases, it seems as if handwriting is tossed to the side in favor of keyboarding skills. The New York Times reports “today, more than half the nation’s primary- and secondary-school students — more than 30 million children — use Google education apps like Gmail and Docs.” 

Dennis Heenan, a high school English and Media teacher, finds this frustrating. 

“Learning cursive and print handwriting allows children to develop fine motor skills that they won’t learn otherwise. Although we live in a technology-filled world as of now, it may not always be that way,” Heenan remarked. 

As the times change, it seems that the outlook on this topic does too. Due to the demand and prevalence of technology in recent years, many younger adults have come to believe that handwriting in schools is becoming less of a priority. 

“I don’t believe handwriting should be taught in schools as a significant part of the curriculum,” Leanna Mullen, the manager of District Communications for Egg Harbor Township, said.  “Students are already used to computers, so there is not really a point in forcing them to learn how to write a specific way. Most assignments nowadays are on the computer, so I believe that keyboarding is a more important skill to learn for generations to come,” 

Many current students believe that although the basics of handwriting should be taught, an emphasis on handwriting beyond that is unnecessary. “I don’t think it’s a problem if handwriting is not taught seriously in schools. Once they know the basics, people will write in their own handwriting style,” Joanie Daigle, a senior at Egg Harbor Township High School, commented. 

The influx of technology in schools is likely bad news for the future of handwriting lessons. Programs like Google Classroom or Blackboard will continue to thrive in the classroom, and schools will end up changing the curriculum to work with them. As more and more assignments are placed completely online, handwritten papers will become a thing of the past. 

This leaves a bit to be worried about. What does the death of handwriting education mean for the future of our students, and how they work in the real world? Will younger generations be able to sign important official documents, or will electronic signatures suffice?

Johanna Baronowitz is a senior in the Communications Academy at Egg Harbor Township High School.