andwriting and spelchekin

January 25, 2010 at 4:25 pm Leave a comment

I had a really interesting discussion with my kids last night about how appropriate the school tasks they are given are to the requirements of the 21st century. The kids are 15 and 12 and the discussion centred round my daughters (15 year old) creative writing homework.

More specifically it centred around the fact that she was not allowed to present this as a printout (or even in an electronic form – a Word document, for example) but it had to be hand written and the quality of handwriting would be subject to a mark, in addition to marks for other attributes of the work. Furthermore, it seems that whilst the mark for other attributes of the work contributed to the general grading for the piece of work, the marks for the handwriting were disregarded in this respect.

My question to the kids was that in a world of word processing and spell checking was the requirement to hand write this piece not a little archaic?

Their view was that, given that the bulk of other written assignments they had to perform were word processed, there was some value in keeping the, let’s face it, dying art of handwriting alive. And I would admit that it does seem appropriate somehow that this should be done in the context of a creative writing piece.

On the question of spell checking they argued that they had to look at their spelling in a different way if they did not have the luxury of a spell checker to utilise. This meant, in their view, that their spelling would improve.

My argument was that even if the good intentions of the school were to keep handwriting alive, assigning a mark to it, which was then for all intents and purposes ignored, was rather pointless. Give feedback, yes, but not mark.

I get the kids point about spellchecking, that somehow without the benefit of this they had to work harder to get their spellings right. Presumably the teacher, when marking the work, will point out misspellings. If so, why not have the misspellings identified by a spell checker prior to the piece of work being handed in. Makes no difference, as far as I can see, how or when misspellings are identified, as long as they are done so at some point. And allowing this to be picked up early could save valuable teacher time.

In the event, my daughter constructed the piece on her laptop, spell checked it, and then transposed it into her own handwriting.  Wouldn’t any half thinking person do the same?

Overall I can see the sense on insisting that kids do some handwriting, particularly if it does at least delay the complete demise of the noble art. But the issue around spell checking does, it seem to me, highlight the confusion that exists as we see the much greater use of technology in our schools. It is a transitory time. It is important that we embrace the changes that we are presented with, and not let them confuse the issues.


Entry filed under: Handwriting, Kids, Spell checker, Spelling, Technology.

Danish bacon!!!! i-pad, u-pad, we-pad….or do Wii?

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Mick Landmann on education, digital technology, and the 21st century

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