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No Pens Day Wednesday

No Pens Day Wednesday

Next Wednesday (10th October) is No Pens Wednesday and it got me thinking. Thinking about how much emphasis many of us still put on sticks of graphite and wood or metal and plastic. Of course we can’t rule out using pens or pencils, they are still quick and easy conduits for our thoughts, they, like our tongues can help us shape our thoughts in text and pictures.

In my 2Simple Days I remember the freedom that a big sheet of paper would offer to a team brainstorm after two to three hours pecking away at a keyboard. But that was only for brief bursts of time, most of the work of the day was on keyboards and keypads.

What will it be like in twenty years time? Is it really worth all the time and effort we spend on handwriting, presentation and written essays even in the younger years. I am not sure.

My other draw towards a no pens event is a reminder that for some children the pen is quite an inaccessible means of communication. I remember someone saying quite recently that Leo was “not a writer”, meaning of course that he could not hold a pen for a sustained period of time. And yet three years earlier he was producing a whole series of sentences using Clicker 5.

He still does this, but now he is at least producing some “work”/ legible handwriting, but his speed of written composition and his general motivation is so much greater when he sits and composes with a word bank driven writer like Clicker 5. I am not sure it really matters that he struggles to write his holiday news with a pencil when he can bash out something in 10 minutes on-screen.

Leo's first proper sentence

Perhaps it’s time to think again about our over emphasis on penmanship. The national strategy included keyboards skills as an objective within the Literacy Strategy, sadly and with a good deal of short sightedness the new draft curriculum makes no mention of computers or keyboarding.

What are you planning for your class next Wednesday?

Author: Anthony Evans

2 Comments to “No Pens Day Wednesday”
  1. Fantastic first post Anthony, some great food for thought – it’s certainly got me thinking.

    When it comes to me writing ideas, making lists, whatever I’m doing that requires thought on paper/screen, I always reach for the pen and paper first (out of habit more than anything), then, after taking minutes to write a few sentences, I quickly give up, open Word and wonder ‘Paper? What was I thinking!?

  2. Great idea! I love how you mention the fact that we have (over the years) placed penmanship as a desired outcome for writers yet it is actually just ‘neatness’. How many amazing writers have great handwriting? I would hazard a guess – not many! I have some incredibly gifted writers that are dyslexic that I have taught over the years, and they are still great writers – their work was often illegible but they had the most awesome ideas, could do visual planners and were judged poorly against our expectations simply because of their handwriting. I hardly ever ‘pen/pencil’ write now, my ActivBoard even sits permanently on ‘handwriting recognition’ and I can’t remember the last time I reached for a piece of paper. Time to chuck the pens away? Not quite, but we do need to think about the relevance of handwriting as a skill now!

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