Learning

We Asked Whether Schools Should Stop Teaching With Paper and Pens. And the Reaction Was Fiery.

We Asked Whether Schools Should Stop Teaching With Paper and Pens. And the Reaction Was Fiery.
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Earlier this week, on the heels of a Microsoft executive calling for classrooms to update their tools and transition from teaching with pens and paper to newer technologies, we posed this question to our readers on Facebook: Do pens and paper still have a place in the modern classroom?

The responses flooded in. To date, we've received nearly 400 comments on Facebook alone, many of them both passionate and articulate.

Here, we've rounded up a few popular reactions.

Many of you highlighted the important differences between the act of handwriting and the act of typing.

"Writing (esp. in cursive!) triggers creativity in a way that tapping/clicking just can't."

"Writing things down improves ones retention. Technology is important, but having a great memory trumps being technologically savvy."

Related: For a Memory Boost, Ditch the Laptop and Write It Down by Hand

"Pressing a key isn't the same as the tactile experience of writing the letter. Using different mediums such as chalk, pencil, markers, crayons, etc. reinforces the forms, stimulates the brain in different ways, and most importantly, it helps develop fine motor skills."

There were also some concerns that technology is too unreliable/too complicated to replace pens and paper entirely.

"Technology is great, but as others have pointed out, technology can fail. Therefore, I seriously hope that clicking does not replace writing in schools!"

"Education with technology is only effective if people know how to use it. I worked on one research project where we audited poorly performing schools. Many were trying to use technology in the form of tablets. However, the tablets were either not used or teachers shared with me how valuable class time was lost trying to get technology running. In many cases the teachers had to set up each tablet themselves…imagine updating and downloading programs for every tablet in your classroom!"

Many readers suggested that instead of eliminating pen and paper, teachers should instead implement a hybrid model where traditional tools are used as a compliment to newer technologies.

"Technology shouldn't be neglected entirely. There is a benefit to tablets and [other] environmentally friendly ways of note taking. But that should be used in conjunction with classic pen and paper, especially in primary grade levels."

Related: This Handy Robot Holds a Pen and Writes Exactly Like You Do

"Why throw baby out with the bathwater? Yes it's great to go digital but pen and paper is another tool too -- just as technology is a tool. And we choose which tool we want to use."

Although a few people did feel that pens and paper are indeed outdated tools for the modern classroom.

"You can still learn to write with a stylus. Technology is the future and I see [the elimination of pens and paper] happening eventually. It's no different than you relying on the post office to deliver your mail instead of riding a horse to its destination and delivering yourself!"

"Who says the future we will even need the written word. Written language is thousands of years old but our technology is decades old. It is far rapidly evolving than our language ever did and is defining how we communicate. Technology will make writing obsolete, not communicating."

"Writing should become more of an art form, like calligraphy. Those who choose to want to learn it can, but not everyone is forced to. I have barely written in the 10 years since I graduated college."

Finally: What if there's a cyberattack/any other sort of apocalyptic event?

"Universe forbid electricity goes out for a while or a cyberattack on America...then out future will be in the hands of people who haven't even been formally taught how to write? #nothanks"

Related: What Your Handwriting May Reveal About Your Confidence, Creativity and Health (Infographic)

"Signing your name or being able to write is something you take for granted because we forget how hard it is/was to learn that skill. Imagine what it would look like in 10 to 20 years if people lose the ability to write. Imagine a foreign country hacks your power generator and cripples your region or nuclear war destroys society completely and all electronic knowledge is lost and you can no longer write."

(But in that case, maybe writing isn't our biggest concern anyway)

"If America's power goes out long enough to completely abandon electronic messaging, mass starvation will set in before handwriting becomes a necessity. All the handwriting skills in the world won't be able to revive the electric-powered gas pumps that fuel our food delivery trucks."

(Or is it?)

"Say your scenario of food distribution occurred with no technology due to say some form of terrorism....wouldn't it be important, no clife altering, for American truck drivers, food distribution center workers and relief aid to write out delivery, packaging and storing instructions."

Have a comment about one of these comments? Tell us in the comments below!