Handwriting in many schools is disappearing from classrooms. With the increasing use of computers in daily life, the role of handwriting is under debate, with some education policymakers believing it is a redundant practice that should be phased out and students taught typing instead.
Tintern Junior School explicitly teaches handwriting as well as touch typing. We believe that both skills are crucial for students. In many Australian states, longhand is still used in high school exams and is an essential skill. So in addition to learning handwriting we consider it important that the girls acquire ‘typing skills’ in an increasingly digital world.
Handwriting begins in the earliest years, in particular in our Pre-Prep year where children are taught to develop their fine motor skills through cutting, sticking and learning to hold a pencil correctly. In the Junior School students in Prep learn the correct posture, technique and formation for writing each letter. Through our very explicit program which is consistent from one year level to another the girls develop a fluent, legible and attractive handwriting style. The evidence is clear in each classroom where the girls take such pride in their presentation. The standard of the girls’ presentation is amazingly high!
In Tintern Junior School we never do anything in half measures! Our Years 2 to 4 students also attend a weekly touch-typing computer class which is specifically designed for our girls to learn the fundamentals of good typing. This program takes about two years to complete and enables our girls to gain confidence and expertise in using the keyboard. Amazingly this touch-typing skill is somewhat ignored and largely forgotten in today’s society.
With many discussions taking place regarding the Australian Curriculum, the handwriting/touch-typing debate seems to be increasingly topical… but our program has been in place for many years. Many of our old girls say that ‘the best thing they learnt in Junior School was to touch type and to learn to handwrite so beautifully.’ These are skills which should last them a lifetime!
by Anna Riddell, Head of Tintern Junior School and Tintern Schools Early Learning Centre