Concern over lack of handwriting skills

KIDS may be more likely to send a text message than a letter to their friends but teachers believe handwriting is still an essential skill.

A survey among 100 primary teachers found that most expect that computer technology will not have replaced the need for handwriting in 20 years time.

This could be a tough task to enforce, judging by stories from around the country of children using text-style shorthand in school essays and assignments.

The study by the Irish National Teachers Organisation shows that, while letter writing was an important learning exercise for older generations, 85% of teachers believe it is a disappearing skill.

“This is influenced by developments in text messaging and e-mail and the convenience of phones. There appears to be some evidence that most children do not write letters outside of a school lesson, with 60% of teachers expressing this view,” said an INTO spokesperson. In an effort to keep the art of calligraphy alive, two-thirds of teachers said they would ask for a carelessly written piece to be rewritten although most believe content is far more important than the actual handwriting.

Despite the worrying move towards hi-tech communication, all is not lost if the entries to the INTO/EBS handwriting competition are anything to go by. More than 100,000 children - which is almost a quarter of those in primary school - submitted a sample of their penmanship. The winners were honoured in a prize giving ceremony in Dublin at the weekend.

These young scribes from around the country picked up the top prizes: Conan O’Sullivan, Killarney, Co Kerry (junior/senior infants), Shauna Ferguson, Durrow, Co Laois (1st/2nd class), Ellen McEntee, Threemilehouse, Co Monaghan (3rd/4th class), Denise Martin, Ardee, Co Louth (5th/6th class) and Conor Dunne, Edmund Rice School, Cabra, Dublin (special education).

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