Schools in Finland are phasing out handwriting lessons in favour of typing as officials accept that texting and tweeting are now the preferred mode of communication. It makes Finland one of the first countries to cancel compulsory handwriting lessons, but it’s part of a global move towards methods more appropriate in the digital age. Minna Harmanen of Finland’s National Board of Education told The Guardian: ‘We used to do joined-up writing so that we could write faster, but these days kids only start learning it in grade two (aged eight) and have a year to get it right before moving on to concentrating on what they write, rather than simply how they write it.
It’s a move that has had a mixed reception internationally. Many U.S. states have already removed cursive handwriting f Add Mediarom their curriculum in an age where the keyboard is king. But in France, handwriting was briefly removed from the curriculum but was later reintroduced after neuroscientists stressed the importance of it for improving brain function. Removing it has the potential to be an unpopular move with purists who grew up with handwriting lessons, but in Finland, the policy has had little reaction.
‘We’ve hardly had any comments about the move from parents,’ says Harmanen. ‘A few of the grandparents were upset, but everyone else seems fine.’ A recent British study of 2,000 people showed that many people had not written anything by hand in six months. And in Finland, there is an added problem with handwriting which adds a fresh impetus to move into the modern era.
In 1986, the country introduced a new style of handwriting which makes many letters look similar when joined up. It’s meant that many people write in print to make writing look more decipherable.