From the Superintendent's Office
In Praise Of Keyboarding
For most parents, their children’s practice of doing almost all writing for school on a computer keyboard is something they are still getting used to. It can seem that the “art” of handwriting is becoming a lost art, and that students are overly dependent on using computers. However, the truth is that computers are here to stay and that there are many benefits to using a computer for writing assignments.
The most obvious benefit is the feature known as “spell check.” When a word is underlined by the computer the student can’t help but to stop and find the correct spelling. The result is less spelling errors on the final paper. The students may make the mistake at first, but they can learn the right way to spell if they pay attention to the corrections that are made. Other features that help students improve their writing skills include grammar checks and thesaurus. Granted, these features are easy to use and require little effort on the student’s part, but the desired result—learning proper grammar and usage—is still achieved by utilizing these word processing tools. The thesaurus is an especially useful tool and can help the writer improve their vocabulary, and help them to make their writing more interesting and more accurate by using words that truly describe what they want to say.
However, it is the word processing features that allow us to change, move around, and add and subtract text that gives students a freedom to develop their writing and experiment with different ways of phrasing that would not happen if an assignment had to be written by hand. Unlike past generations of students, our children do not need to write first, second and third drafts of their compositions, term papers, and reports. With word processing they can make continual revisions until they are satisfied with each and every sentence.
In addition to the word processing, of course, is the instant access that the Internet gives us to facts, figures, and infinite areas of information that students need in researching their assignments. No one can deny that using the computer has brought student work in all grades to a higher level of substance and gives our students the ability to use the most current information when preparing a report on just about any subject.
So, will the art of handwriting eventually go the way of hieroglyphics? I don’t think so. Children still need to learn how to write by hand and schools must remain committed to teaching them how. We will need this skill in daily living throughout our lives. It is also a skill that cannot be rushed, as children need to reach specific age-related developmental stages in order to fully master handwriting both in print and cursive styles.
Therefore, we should continue to teach handwriting and keyboarding side by side, with the knowledge that most writing will ultimately be done on a keyboard, but that it is equally important to teach our children how to use a pen and pencil.
When they are at the keyboard, encourage your children to use all the word processing features available to produce high-level work and to learn the proper spelling and grammar for their words. Remind them that spell check doesn’t catch every error and that there is no substitute for carefully proofreading their own work before hitting that print button for a final time.#