AFTER marking exam scripts for a long time, I have seen many types of answers and handwriting. But this semester, I found an exam script that was so neatly and beautifully handwritten that my colleague at first thought that it was a computer font. In the age of keypads, where obsession with gadgets even among toddlers is widespread, there is less interest among the young in having neat handwriting.
When asked to write something down, many students prefer to snap pictures of the notes and keep them in their phone. Or they would rather type them on the computer and then print them out.
As we write, we need to focus on the letters, paper, line, ink and spacing, hence the brain ‘moves’ more.
Having beautiful handwriting was a pride in our younger days. We were in awe of those having neat handwriting.
Perhaps, in essence, that was what beautiful handwriting did then: it earned one the respect of penmanship.
To type a piece of work can be a waste of time, energy and resources because printing requires a printer, paper and ink.
Further, the ink required will be subject to the font size. If the font is big and bold, more ink is required.
Whereas, if one writes on a piece of paper in class, one requires only a pencil, an eraser and paper. If there is an error, it can be erased.
Time, resources and money are saved. If an error is found in print form, the piece of work has to be re-printed. In the 1960s, we were not only forced to write systematically but taught to write in cursive.
We were observed keenly by teachers. Fearing the teacher standing next to us, we wrote slowly and seriously. Viewed from a different perspective, as we write with the fullest attention, our involvement is deeper in the meaning of the words, phrases and sentences.
Of late, there have been scientific research reporting on the benefits of handwriting.
The Washington Post’s Education section (July 26), quoting research, said learning to write in cursive engages the brain more deeply, improves fine motor dexterity and gives children a better idea of how words work in combination.
In cursive writing, letters are connected to each other or run into another in loops.
“Cursive” comes from the Latin word “currere”, which means “to run”. Considering the benefits of cursive writing, 10 states in the United States have passed laws requiring cursive writing be taught in public schools, it was reported.
There is wisdom in making the young learn handwriting as part of a formal subject, be it normal or cursive.
Writing is an act of producing a symbol by hand that requires the integration of many brain activities such as visual, memory and motor information.
Hence, it can be seen as a tool to improve one’s faculty. In this vein, there is a neuroscience study conducted by Vinci-Booher, James, and James, published in Trends in Neuroscience and Education journal this year, which showed that writing by hand made the children’s “functional pathways move from left visual regions to the left dorsal primary motor/somatosensory cortice” in their motor region brain as compared to typing.
These researchers concluded that there is visual-motor functional connectivity after the children wrote something instead of typing. This is understood.
As we write, we need to focus on the letters, paper, line, ink and spacing, hence the brain “moves” more. If this single research is reporting that handwriting can incur movements in certain regions of the brain instead of typing, there should be more studies on its good effect on our faculty.
Research of this type is important as parents buy screen gadgets for their toddlers and children “to type” or “press buttons” in the hope of improving their offspring’s mind.
Certainly, we cannot dismiss gadgets altogether, as the young can learn something from them. But as we know scientifically that handwriting benefits a child more than typing, hence it would be good if we sit with them to teach them to write.
Other than improving their minds, it is spending time with them. They, too, may grow into adults with beautiful handwriting, earning respect for their penmanship, like the kind that impressed us examiners in an exam recently.
A country's survival depends on lifelong learning
AS Malaysia moves towards a high- income economy in four years, Malaysians need to understand that education should no longer be seen as an endeavour for children and youth. It should, instead, be a personal pursuit of Malaysians, young and old, working or unemployed, to consistently seek education to enrich themselves to meet the changing skills needed to achieve a high-income economy.
Lifelong learning is the ticket for the country to realise its aspiration of becoming a developed nation and increasing its economic competitiveness.
Lifelong learning is so important to the survival of the country, in line with the Malaysia Education Blueprint (2015-2025) for Higher Education, which provided a road map and action plans, of what it hopes to achieve in terms of the development of skilled talents to meet the growing and changing demands of industry.
The mindset of our society that university education is the sole pathway to success does not hold water.
Technical and vocational education are equally important because of its hands-on training and practical experience that are valued by employers.
Lifelong learning is the ticket for the country to realise its aspiration of becoming a developed nation and increase its economic competitiveness.
The government has created a framework for recognising prior learning, including the establishment of pathways for re-entry into the education system, a national system to enable accumulation of course credits over time, and stipulating criteria for recognising experience.
OUM, as an open and distance learning institution, has been championing the cause since it started accepting learners in 2001. Enrolment for OUM programmes is not based on academic criteria alone.
Those with lesser qualifications but with prior learning experience are given a second chance at higher education. Learning can be done on the move, any time, any where.
If we look at Internet penetration in Malaysia, it stands at 67 per cent, the seventh highest penetration rate in Asia.
This puts Malaysia in a good position to harness the power of online learning to widen access to good quality content, boost the quality of teaching and learning, lower the cost of delivery, and take Malaysian expertise to the global community.
What OUM is doing is in line with what the government is trying to implement, which is to use technology to provide Malaysians with greater access to education and by offering more personalised learning experience to students.
It wants to make online learning an integral component of higher education and lifelong learning. The move is commendable because Malaysia needs to move away from classroom delivery to one where technology-enabled innovations are being harnessed to dem-ocratise access to education.
Everyone should continue learning, either to improve oneself career-wise or for personal satisfaction. By dedicating oneself to learning, one can get ahead in life.
All it takes is commitment and discipline. Living in the digital age, we are fed with information, both good and bad. I want to touch on etiquette when using social media. Statistics by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission revealed that last year, there were more than 20.1 million Malaysians who were active Internet users.
Of the total, 16.8 million were active on social media. Undoubtedly, social media benefits people as it allows speedy access to information and issues. But there is also a negative side.
There are incidences where social media is used to convey information that promotes racism or for hate groups to recruit or promote propaganda online.
Cyber bullying is on the rise where people send intimidating and threatening messages online, thus causing emotional trauma and can even lead to suicide. Criminals use social media to commit crimes.
There are plenty of stories about homes being robbed when owners are away on vacation. Robbers can track their whereabouts through social media.
Sexual predators find, stalk and assault victims through social media while sexting (texting sexual content) is becoming common. As social media users, we should exercise restraint by not revealing too much about ourselves. This is important as it protect yourself from unwanted attention.
For students, social media can be beneficial because it allows them to access reading materials online and to interact with peers to discuss educational matters.
To me, parents play a crucial role in ensuring that children use the Internet responsibly. A country will prosper when learning becomes a way of life and noble values a cultural norm that guide the way we live, work and play.