Computers might be the tool of the future, but penmanship is still an important skill, reports the News-Journal of northern Ohio. Because the Ohio Department of Education does not have any requirements regarding penmanship, how much teachers and students focus on it is left up to individual school districts. A recent national study conducted through Vanderbilt University found that the number of students categorized by surveyed teachers as having a hard time learning to write increased from 12 percent to 23 percent. In another survey through the same university, 90 percent of teachers said they don’t feel comfortable teaching handwriting. Jan Olsen, founder of Handwriting Without Tears, a company providing handwriting curriculum, materials, and instructional workshops, is hoping to change that. Olsen says part of the problem is that how to teach handwriting is no longer strongly emphasized for those earning education degrees. "Handwriting has not been taught to teachers in college for 25 years," she says. "And there’s some teachers who don’t know how to help kids who are making letters and numbers backwards." Mary Kay Jindra, chair of the English Department at Mayfield High School, says finding a balance between handwritten assignments and those typed on the computer is the key to keeping penmanship skills sharp in an age of ever-increasing technology. "Most lengthy pieces we ask to be turned in on the word processor, but you also have journal reflections and impromptu writing pieces that are required to be handwritten," she says. "Because high-stakes tests require penmanship, there is still a need for students to write legibly."
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