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Computer can kill cursive skill

London, Oct. 22: For centuries learning to write joined-up letters has been an integral part of children’s education, but that is now being threatened by the computer revolution.

Research from the US shows that five out of six pupils leave school having been unable to master the skill, technically known as cursive writing. Instead, the majority of students print their words, while some resort to writing in block capitals.

Experts believe a similar situation is developing in the UK too.

The American study involved analysis of the essays of 1.5 million 16- and 17-year-olds who were sitting for their SATs, the equivalent of the first year of A-levels in the UK, in 2005. Officials found that only 15 per cent of the pupils wrote in joined-up writing.

Suzanne Tiburtius, the information officer for the National Handwriting Association, said that the findings are mirrored in the UK.

“There has certainly been a deterioration in the standard of handwriting of children in this country,” the former primary school teacher said. “Unfortunately, there are some teachers who argue that handwriting skills are now no longer necessary because soon ‘everybody will be doing everything on the computer’.

“The result of this neglect is dire. Many children never learn joined writing at all and continue to use print script like young children, well into their adult lives.”

Rhona Stainthorp, professor of literacy at the Institute of Education at University College London, said: “Handwriting has become the Cinderella skill of literacy. Unless children learn to write legibly and at speed, their educational achievements may be reduced and their self-esteem affected. Handwriting is a skill and needs to be taught to a level where it flows automatically.”

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