While you're at it, why teach reading?

28th October 2011 at 01:00

Thank you for the article questioning whether handwriting has had its day (Cover story, 14 October). It could be argued that the computer keyboard, too, has had its day - after all, there are programs that allow you to talk to the computer and then translate the speech into text. Even with the Kindle, many books can be listened to rather than read. Why teach reading?

I believe that the abilities to read and to write are, and will continue to be, valuable. I base the view partly on my own experience, including as a teacher, and that of my younger daughter, who has cerebral palsy and is unable to write by hand. In her field of mathematics, she finds the use of the keyboard tedious and cumbersome.

I notice more and more children hold the pencil or pen awkwardly and many who are muddled about direction. The muscular memory that goes with handwriting is an important element in learning to communicate via the written word. The present difficulties with pen and pencil date from the formation of the national curriculum, produced almost entirely from a secondary-school point of view that never recognised the time needed to teach children to write.

We are in for more of the same trouble in the near future.

Professor Norman Thomas, St Albans, Hertfordshire.

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