11 December 2006

Luddites in the Classroom

I think that engaging in the writing process with a computer is a very different animal than sitting down with pen(cil) and paper. There are things I like about using my laptop---such as the ability to quickly edit text---but I find that when I really need to synthesize a lot of information, only the old-fashioned way will get me organized. It is rare to find me without a finely sharpened pencil nearby. I keep one tucked behind an ear at work and another beside my bed at night in order to write down all those last minute thoughts that can keep me from sleeping. The physical act of writing something on paper just faciliates the thinking process for me.

Perhaps these experiences are what a school in Scotland has in mind. They are insisting that students do their writing with a fountain pen. "The pens improve the quality of work because they force the children to take care, and better work improves self-esteem," principal Bryan Lewis said. "Proper handwriting is as relevant today as it ever has been."

In this case, the use of the pens is focused more on producing "pretty" work rather than facilitating the writing process. I do wonder what will happen over time with these kids---will achievement go up with this additional way to think and plan?

Between blogging and an on-line degree program, I am getting more comfortable with writing in a paperless environment. I don't think I will ever completely give up my pencil, paper, and eraser. Maybe Scotland is cultivating a few more kids like me.

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