Sunday, October 25, 2015
UK: Children aged 11 who can't write their own name: Popularity of computer games means secondary school pupils lack basic skills
My son played computer games from age 2 onwards without restriction. So how come he got a degree with first class honours in mathematics and now works as a computer programmer? Computers have become just a whipping boy
Children are arriving at secondary school unable to write their names properly amid the growing popularity of computer games.
They are still struggling with basic handwriting by the age of 11 or 12 because couch potato lifestyles mean they are not developing the correct motor skills, say experts.
The warning comes as fears grow about an increasingly sedentary generation, which is addicted to playing on computers, iPads and mobile phones at an ever earlier age.
The issue was debated by teachers and handwriting experts at a discussion in central London last week, the Times Educational Supplement reported.
Melanie Harwood, who provides handwriting coaching in schools, said: ‘I’m seeing children as old as 11, 12, who can’t write their own names and they’re being passed through the system.
‘Some children are being bullied because of their handwriting. Their friends are taking pictures of their writing and tweeting it. ‘Kids comment on the writing, saying: “They’re not very bright, because their handwriting isn’t very good”.’
She added: ‘Good God. It’s horrific. You can’t have that.’
Charlotte Clowes, deputy head at St Alban’s Catholic Primary School in Macclesfield, Cheshire, pointed out that children need to build up their ‘gross motor development’ – shoulder, elbow and wrist movement – before moving on to the fine motor skills required for handwriting.
But, with the advent of computer games, sedentary children’s development is being held back. She said: ‘One might link that to not doing things we all did – playing in the playground.
‘As schools, we need to make sure that we’re providing opportunities for motor skills to be developed, gross and fine. It’s not just about getting straight to handwriting.’
Dr Angela Webb, chairman of the National Handwriting Association, stressed that once handwriting has been taught, it needs to be practised.
‘It is largely a motor skill,’ she said. ‘You wouldn’t expect to be good at the violin without practising.’
She said it was wrong to assume handwriting was irrelevant to children’s lives. Students are still expected to sit exams with pen and paper, for example.
Handwriting still forms part of the primary school curriculum. Ofsted, the school inspection body, has added handwriting to its assessment list, which means that the legibility of pupils’ written work can now affect the rating a school receives.
But secondary pupils are increasingly typing their essays on computers, and there is concern that children may eventually lose the skill of handwriting.
Experts have previously warned that vital developmental stages are being skipped as young children learn to type on a keyboard before putting pen to paper.
In 2011, Nardia Foster, former chairman of the Voice teaching union, said: ‘I’ve come across children who have gone through primary, secondary and got to A-levels and they’re still not forming their letters properly. ‘They say, “I don’t like to do joined-up writing. It’s too hard. I’m not going to do it”.’
She added: ‘Children are being encouraged to be on a computer before they can write.’
This College Dropped a Conservative Speaker for the Most Pathetic of Reasons
Colleges were once a place where young minds went after high school to grtow intellectually by debating controversial ideas. In the era of political collectness, they have morphed into a honeycomb like structure of safe zones where students coalesce into tiny little groups, striking a defensive pose, their fingers pressed firmly in their ear canals and their tongues and lungs clacking out NANANANANAs like a bunch of mewling infants. Ah milennials. This week, a conservative speaker critical of modern feminism was the latest victim of the new campus culture:
"A student group at Williams College that hosts speakers who challenge the campus's biases has rescinded a speaking invitation to Suzanne Venker, a conservative author and vocal critic of feminism, in response to furious condemnation from other students.
The decision to disinvite Venker is steeped in irony, given that the group's lecture series is called “Uncomfortable Learning,” and the sole reason for ditching Venker seems to be that she was a good fit."
In an embarrassing turn of events, the left wing radicals who demanded more ideological diversity on campus have all but shut it down now that they're running the show. Their complete domination of the academy has lead to what was once controversial becoming the conventional wisdom. It's amazing that now that these former radicals are the empowered unversity establishment, they've conveniently abandoned their commitment to ideological diversity in favor of die hard left wing indoctrination. What good is truth when you have ideology?
Boehner’s Voucher Legacy
The House Speaker saved scholarships for poor kids in Washington
Paul Ryan seems set to succeed John Boehner as House Speaker as early as next week, but Mr. Boehner deserves credit for using his final days to renew and expand a successful school voucher program in Washington, D.C., that President Obama and Democrats in Congress have repeatedly tried to kill.
These Opportunity Scholarships provide poor kids—almost all black and Latino—with a lifeline out of failing schools. Originally passed in 2003 when Mr. Boehner chaired the House Education Committee, it has survived several Democratic assassination attempts. These included a 2009 poison pill amendment that Illinois Senator Dick Durbin attached to an omnibus spending bill designed to phase the program out
It appeared Mr. Durbin’s nasty work would prevail, but Mr. Boehner kept the issue alive and persuaded Mr. Obama to agree to restore funding as part of the 2011 budget deal. On the House floor this week, Mr. Boehner pointed out that, of the 12th graders who used a scholarship last year, 90% graduated—and 88% enrolled in college. The House bill that passed keeps the program going for five years and removes limits on the number of eligible students.
“This issue is personal to me,” Mr. Boehner says, “and it has been for a long time. But frankly, it ought to be personal to everyone in this chamber. Those of us who work here, who make a good living here, owe something to the kids in this city. We owe the kids in this city a chance—a fighting chance.”
Democrats will filibuster the scholarships in the Senate, which means someone other than Mr. Boehner will have to fight to have them added to another must-pass bill. Let’s hope someone else cares as much as the Ohio Republican.
Posted by jonjayray at 3:57 PM