Saturday, September 9, 2017

the handwriting is not on the wall

The increasing illegibility of students’ handwriting has prompted Cambridge University to consider ending 800 years of tradition by allowing laptops to replace pen and paper for exams.
Academics say that students are losing the ability to write by hand en masse because of their reliance on laptops in lectures and elsewhere.
Sarah Pearsall, a senior lecturer at Cambridge’s history faculty, said: “Fifteen or 20 years ago, students routinely wrote by hand several hours a day, but now they write virtually nothing by hand except exams.
This feels to me like a trend of the future and makes me wonder what happens when the electricity goes out.


  1. Oh please! That old "what happens when the electricity goes out" again? Tests are temporarily cancelled. If it's Armageddon tests are cancelled a little longer.

    Pencil points break or get used up. Pens run out of ink.

    The issue is not electricity (and we are talking laptops here), the issue is legible handwriting. Is it a useful, valuable skill! If it is then time must be devoted to it in school. My children are in their twenties and they received the most cursory training in handwriting. While they spent a significant amount of time in the primary grades learning how to print, they did _not_ learn how to touch type.

    Sadly, education is too closely tied to ignorant politically connected administrators all too willing to pay attention to vocal but uninformed parents and shrewd education product salespersons; plus these administrators don't read full studies just the digest (if at all). Better administrators just go along to get along.

    In the switch to laptops, I think Cambridge may find that there are too many typos and many students unable to type fast enough for some tests simply because touch typing has been by-passed.

    The jerkosaurus who became famous because he "flipped" his classes and claims to be teaching and testing analytical and critical skills may unwittingly cost Western Civilization because his followers are now by passing the development of mnemonics, memory training. Johnny can't do higher math because he didn't know he needed to memorize times tables, formulas, algorithms , etc., but he can sure analyze that trapezoid and find 6 uses for it and rule them all out as aesthetically unpleasing.