Yesterday marked the start of National Stationery Week (25th April – 1st May 2016), seven days of celebrating the many wonders of the stationery world.
It is a festival of the written word, all things stationery and all the products that make the creation and maintenance of written content possible; from writing implements, notebooks to filing tools – you name it.
Keeping in mind the theme of the week – ‘Writing Matters’ – I thought it might be worth looking at some of the ways in which written work can be almost irreplaceable.
The exercise book, a source of daily anticipation for both teachers and students, will be a good place to start. Big, small, lined, squared, plain, half lined, half plain – the list of specifications goes on. Exercise books, in all their shapes and sizes, have long been an integral part of school life for both educators and students.
But, as we move deeper into a digital age, with handwriting seemingly becoming less important, are exercise books still relevant to the learning experience?
We say yes – and this is why.
Handwriting is not as endangered, as the popularity of iPads and other electronic devices (now being commonly used for learning purposes), might have us believe.
According to YouGov research commissioned by National Stationery Week, 92% of adults think that writing by hand is important and 97% think it is important for children to be taught to write.
Moreover, the National Handwriting Association has revealed that less than half of teachers feel confident teaching handwriting, despite the fact that over 87% of them value the skill of putting pen to paper.
While a significant number of teachers are not confident teaching writing –do these numbers look like they belong to a dying art?
Admittedly, writing is being replaced by technologically driven alternatives in many parts of the world, such as Finland and the United States. However, teachers – and broadly speaking, the majority of adults in the UK - see the importance of handwriting and perceive it as a critical skill, that children need to possess in order to succeed in other areas of their education.
Yet, according to the National Handwriting Association, 1.7 million year 6 pupils are currently unable to fully access the secondary school curriculum. Why? Because they are unable to produce work on paper using writing implements.
So, where does that leave exercise books?
Handwriting is as important as ever; and the best way to get it right, particularly in an age where pupils are increasingly using their fingertips to navigate touchscreens in both personal and school settings, is to practice. As a staple in any curriculum, exercise books provide a platform for this practice, as well as the written word in general.
At YPO, we are best placed to understand the value of exercise books to teachers and pupils alike.
In 2016 alone, we have shared 30,500 catalogues on exercise books with 25,130 schools and received £1.8 million orders for our extensive range of exercise books, including work books, laboratory books, Assessment for Learning (AFL) enhanced exercise books and special handwriting practice books, amongst others. One size does not fit all, and therefore we offer a wide range of exercise books to match the varying needs of teachers and pupils.
In essence, writing still matters. Technology has certainly broadened our horizons and those of the younger generations by making learning more interactive and accessible – however, the written word will always hold its own in the realm of education.