Handwriting a dying art
Emphasis should once again be placed on legible handwriting within the school system.
The call came from Minister of Education Ronald Jones, who was speaking against a backdrop of the third annual Primary School’s Handwriting Competition sponsored by the Isaiah 55 Centre For Spiritual And Developmental Training in conjunction with the ministry.
Jones told Barbados TODAY that while he could not attribute any poor results of the recent Common Entrance Examination to the substandard handwriting skills of many children, he realized that it was nevertheless a problem and one of serious concern.
“Generally speaking, students are not writing as legibly as they should . . . and this is even manifested if you have to handwrite an application or any . . . letter, and especially when they reach the secondary level. Back in the good old days you were taught how to write, how to hold your pencil, your pen, and how to form your letters. In fact, handwriting used to be taught at least once a week, but there is a bit of slippage of that taking place and therefore the legibility becomes problematic,” he said.
Jones, a former educator, said he did not know when the focus on handwriting began to slip, but he stressed that it needed to be re-emphasized.
Director of the Isaish 55 Centre, Cassandra Bowen, also voiced her concern about handwriting skills.
Speaking at the presentation of prizes for competition winners this morning at the Bay Primary School in Beckles Road, St Michael, she told Barbados TODAY she was disheartened that more primary schools could not see the worth of such a competition.
While applauding the 29 schools that did participate and offered 160 scripts, Bowen underscored that the Primary Schools Handwriting Competition was very important to the lives of children.
“ . . . Your handwriting says a lot about you. It is tied into your spelling, comprehension and your mathematics, and it makes you a well rounded person. So this is one of the reasons we have taken the initiative to have this handwriting competition. It is something that was done in previous years and it just went along the wayside,” he said.
“It would be beneficial if there was a handwriting class . . . where people teach children how to write properly, especially in the primary schools, because when you look at the things that you get from secondary school students, you know that there was a problem somewhere along the line. If it was something that went [up to] Class 4, when they go on to secondary school they probably would not have the kind of problems they have. So I honestly wish that the other schools in the island would take this programme seriously.”
The submissions in this year’s handwriting competition were vastly improved over previous years, Bowen said, even though there were some scripts that appeared rushed.
The winners in the 6-7 category were Makayla Stoute, of the Hilda Skeene Primary School, who placed first, followed by Jazario Hall, also of Hilda Skeene Primary, and Jabari Carrington, of St Lucy Primary.
In the 8-9 category, the winners were Jacinth Collymore, of Bay Primary who took the first prize; Teshayne Dawson, of St Jude’s Primary, who was second; and Kadari Webster, of Hilda Skeene Primary, who placed third.
Anastacia Bham, of St Lucy Primary, took the top honours in the 10–11 category; second was Keanna Thornhill, of Bay Primary, and Kelly-ann Holder, of St Lawrence Primary, was third.