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Put away the iPads, handwriting is the key to learning

This is the conclusion reached by the Classroom practice feature in the 10 October issue of TES. The writer Simon Creasey talked to teachers and academics and found that evidence suggests retaining and learning information is much easier if you scribble it down rather than typing it out on to a digital device.

A key piece of research in this area is a 2003 study from Cornell University in the US, in which one half of students in a lecture hall were given laptops and the other half received pens and paper. In post-lecture tests, those taking handwritten notes scored higher than those with laptops.

And there is plenty more research showing the same thing.

So why the rush to sideline handwriting in many classrooms? Well rather than being a move towards other forms of recording and demonstrating learning, it may simply be that the time to teach handwriting is no longer available.

“The difficulty we have is that handwriting isn’t assessed. So it’s being pushed out of the curriculum, because that curriculum is already overcrowded with things that are assessed,” says Karine George, headteacher at Westfields Junior School in Hampshire. “As a result, children are not being given the time they need to develop their cursive style and they’re struggling to complete some of the written tests in time.”

So, what do Ofsted and the Department for Education have to say about all this? To find out, and to assess the evidence for yourself, read the full feature.

Read the full article in the 10 October edition of TES on your tablet or phone or by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagents.


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