It was big in the news: Finland would abolish teaching of writing by hand. Luckily a journalist I know actually contacted the Finnish department of education to check, instead of copying the press mentions from other journalists who didn’t check.
Yesterday, while looking for information about this other new Finland-news about teaching topics rather than subjects, I found this statement:
The new core curriculum for basic education was confirmed at the end of 2014. The new local curricula, which are based on the national core curriculum, will be in use in schools in August 2016.
Changes in the teaching of cursive writing skills, in particular, have attracted international attention. A common misconception is that Finnish schools will abandon instruction in handwriting and focus exclusively on keyboard skills.
From autumn 2016, first class pupils will learn to print upper and lower case letters, form words with these letters and practise keyboard skills.
In the initial stage of writing instruction, the aim is at mastering a clear personal style of handwriting. The future goal is to progress from writing technique to developing the content, structure and argumentation of texts and a rich use of language faster than today.
In many countries, children begin to learn printing at the age of five or six, and cursive writing when they are seven. In Finland, pupils learn print style writing during their first year at school, and cursive handwriting in their second year. Both printing and cursive writing have traditionally been taught in lower comprehensive school on such a fast schedule that children have no time to develop routines. Higher comprehensive school pupils have for many years mainly used printing, which they find a fast and flowing style of writing.
Writing by hand is still considered important in terms of developing the pupils’ fine motor skills and memory. The type of model used and the time and effort spent on practising the letters play a key role. The main principle in the design of the new model was coming up with letters that are elegant and easy to read, write and teach.
Writing on a keyboard is already part of our everyday interaction. It is both an individual and a communal skill. While we write less by hand, typing and writing in a social context are increasing. Typing facilitates editing, co-writing and sharing text. The new curriculum encourages pupils to develop versatile and modern writing skills that they will need during their lives.