Walk into any primary or secondary school today and you will certainly find at least one thing which was a big part of your early school learning that is no longer part of the curriculum. The reason being? It simply isn’t relevant anymore.
On children’s school desks today, you will no longer find traditional balance scales as youngsters try to work out weights and measures – digital scales take care of this now. And learning how to create a presentation to the rest of the class using acetates and an overhead projector has been long lost to new digital technologies.
So in this digital age, where we can communicate with people all over the world with the simplest touch of a few buttons, and where according to tes.com more than a third of our pupils between the ages of seven and nine can’t use joined-up handwriting anyway, should we discontinue this lesson too? Is the art of learning joined-up handwriting now surplus to requirements?
The argument for joined-up handwriting to go - Some teaching professionals argue that consistently shaped and sized letters such as those found in books, newspapers and on websites across the board help with reading, spelling and writing. In fact, the only time a child actually comes across joined up writing is when their teacher asks them to carry out a writing exercise. They believe that learning joined-up writing requires fine motor skills that some children simply haven't yet developed, and spending too much time trying to perfect these skills at a young age can, in fact, distract children from learning the more important skills of reading, writing and spelling.
The argument to stay - Other teachers disagree and argue that joined-up handwriting is much more than just practicing ‘nice handwriting’. Some firmly believe that rather than distracting children from learning to spell, sitting at their school desks and learning joined-up handwriting actually helps them remember the spelling of the words they are writing and furthermore can improve the flow of their own story writing.
Whenever the topic of changing the content of the national curriculum comes up, it can evoke compelling arguments and opinions from very different points of view. It certainly looks like this will be an interesting one to watch develop in the future. Some US states and countries such as Finland have dropped it from their national curriculum and made it optional. Will the UK follow suit? Watch this space...