Physical Writing

Most writers will tell you that they write every day with an implement in hand. Not typing on a computer. There is something to the physicality of writing. That creative placement of words is quite different when you physically write. I make notes to myself, but I don’t write in paragraphs.

Years ago, when I sat on the Executive Board of our kid’s K-12 school, there was a long conversation around writing. The past Principal, who I had tremendous respect for, sat on the board and was very concerned about technology in the classroom. How could kids not learn to write the alphabet?

I believe that everyone should learn to write but not having access to technology from day one of Kindergarten already puts those kids behind. I read a worthy interview that examines the connection of equity and computer science between Ron Summers and Christy Crawford, leaders in New York City’s CS4All, an initiative that Fred championed to bring computer science to the 1.1 million public school students. I loved what Christy said “it would be unbelievably inappropriate if kids in NYC didn’t have CS. Without it, we’re not equipping kids for this new civil rights movement. It’s like going to school without a pencil.”

For many, who have a tough time withholding that pencil, computers change the game. It also changes the game for teachers and students to learn at their level. It creates opportunities in the classroom for peer-to-peer learning. The demand for a technically skilled workforce is something I talked about in the mid-’90s at MOUSE and why we need to integrate technology into our schools from day one. It is now 2021, and we are still discussing this.

Covid has unlocked so many issues in education. We know from the past of our own education that what works for some doesn’t work for all. Technology changes are pushing more inclusivity to each individual and hopefully a place where education becomes more equitable.

Do we need to sign our names? Do we need to write physically? Do we need to learn how to draw? I believe we do, but if I had to choose between technology and physical writing, I would choose technology every time.