Thinking and Linking by Joanne Jacobs
Go to Number 2 Pencil for commentary here and here on the new SAT’s Saturday debut. I was struck with this story on students’ inability to write legibly without a keyboard.
So what is so new about hating to write with a pencil? It took me YEARS to lose the callous on my finger from using a pencil. Early on I got a fountain pen, and even did my math homework with it–I hate pencils! And I had to develop my own speed-printing style because it was hard to read my own handwritten notes. The worst side-effect of hating to use a pencil (or ball point pen, for that matter) was that I would never write beyond a first draft because of the pain involved. My grades would have been much higher, and maybe I would have learned English in high school or college instead of later in life on my own, if keyboards and word processors were around when I went to school.
If I was writing a two page essay in 25 minutes, my handwriting would suck too. I took plenty of blue book tests in college and my handwriting was barely legible. My goal was to get it DONE!
That’s not just a problem for kids. Recently I took the Massachusetts state test for chemistry teachers. It included two handwritten essays. In the first minute I discovered that 1) I can now keyboard faster than I can handwrite and 2) my penmanship is even worse than it used to be, a fall-off from a not particularly high standard (though I learned in the era before word processors were even a gleam in An Wang’s eye).
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