Why “write” homework in the electronic age

With the in-depth development of digitalization, classroom learning in schools has begun to rely more and more on electronic devices. However, can “electronic work” really replace “paper work”? Recently, the Ministry of Education issued a notice requiring schools to use electronic products in teaching not to exceed 30% of the total time, and continue to adopt paper-based assignments in principle. This is not only to protect children’s eyesight, but also to exercise children’s “hands-on ability”. In fact, even in developed countries with a high degree of digitization, the practice of completely replacing paper-based operations with electronic operations has been controversial.

The Finnish model is controversial

At present, the primary and secondary schools in most European countries still maintain paper-based homework, but some countries have completely eliminated the handwriting requirement. Finland, the Nordic education power that has won the international “pizza test” for many years, has carried out a writing revolution since 2016-handwriting has been eliminated in primary and secondary schools.

The Finnish education department believes that writing takes up too much time for students, especially those in the first and second grades of elementary school, and is “too complicated” for some students. They said that using the keyboard to compose text allows students to focus more on the content and eliminate the need to waste time on writing scripts, and that automatic corrections can also help learn grammar. The Ministry of Education of the country believes that the uniform font is good for teachers to read, and students will not be deducted for writing “crawling like a worm”.

This new regulation immediately caused controversy in Europe. Proponents believe that daily life is becoming more and more digital, and adults rarely need to write by hand. The Finnish approach is a kind of “future-style education.” Opponents say that handwriting is a cultural asset that cannot be easily given up, which is conducive to sensory learning content and better memorization of knowledge. At present, there are two situations in European countries for students’ homework: one is learning Finland. For example, Norway is gradually promoting electronic homework across the country. Some schools have entered a fully digitalized homework teaching model, while other schools are advancing step by step; second, schools decide independently , The vast majority of European countries are implementing this model, which may digitize part of the teaching content or homework.

Bauer, a researcher in basic education in Berlin, Germany, told the Global Times that in recent years, some European schools have been studying Finland and trying to give up writing. However, there are few schools that really give up writing completely, and parents and education circles basically disagree. Educational departments in many countries have also clearly stipulated that they cannot give up handwriting. Even in Finland, the controversy is growing. Some experts even believe that Finland’s performance in the “Pizza Test” this year has fallen because of the cancellation of handwriting homework.

Handwriting can activate the brain’s sensory experience

The results of a survey published by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) last year attracted strong attention. Van der Meer, a professor of neuropsychology at this university, and his team started in 2017 and conducted years of comparative research on handwriting and computer use. It turns out that whether young people or children, the most active brain is when writing. When writing a pen on paper, people can see the written text and hear the sound of writing. This process can activate the multi-sensory experience of the brain. These sensory experiences will establish connections between different areas of the brain, thereby cultivating better learning ability and memory. Writing can bring cognitive benefits, create artistic value, convey personal emotions, and help students learn faster. In addition, many experts have studied and analyzed from the perspective of sociology and other aspects, and believe that ensuring handwriting can reduce the injustice of educational resources caused by the gap between the rich and the poor.

A survey by the German Institute of Writing Skills also showed that about 80% of the primary school teachers interviewed stated that their handwriting skills have deteriorated compared with previous years, and they are currently demanding to strengthen their writing skills. To this end, the education departments of the German states have formulated new regulations-for example, requiring school classwork to be mainly handwritten; examinations cannot be all multiple-choice questions, and dictation, calculation, composition, etc. should be added; homework can be appropriately digitized, but also Guarantee certain writing. The school also requires that parents should also develop their children’s writing skills earlier. If the school must promote digitization, each child must be equipped with a portable or palmtop computer.

Expert: Can be determined according to school age and content

Chu Zhaohui, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Educational Sciences, said in an interview with the Global Times reporter on the 13th that the number of primary and middle school students who use electronic devices in their studies is increasing, and the proportion of electronic homework has also increased, but this does not mean offline. The homework is not necessary. For example, elementary school students must repeatedly practice writing on paper, otherwise they have no concept of the structure of the characters and their understanding of the characters is relatively superficial. Another example is the physical problem of “at what temperature does water have the smallest volume”. Children who have been in contact with nature offline are more likely to think from their own experience, while children who learn passively online tend to apply formulas, but the result is still Not necessarily correct.

Chu Zhaohui explained that there are three main ways for people to acquire knowledge: “knowledge”, “knowledge” and “explain knowledge”. “Knowledge” refers to knowledge obtained through personal practice; “Knowledge” refers to knowledge obtained from books or others; “Knowledge” refers to knowledge that is derived through thinking and imagination based on the situation and information of ears, eyes, and witnesses. The online courses that primary and middle school students use electronic devices to learn are actually processed indirect knowledge, which is not conducive to students’ active exploration.

Chu Zhaohui told the “Global Times” reporter that the diversification of reading methods must have its own corresponding value, and there is no direct data to show the relationship between the use of electronic products and decreased vision. He said that close reading and less outdoor activities are the two main reasons for the decline of young people’s vision. Whether it is online or offline learning, you must pay attention to the time you use your eyes.

Chu Zhaohui said that it is difficult to set a uniform standard for electronic homework, which should be distinguished according to the age of students and the content they have learned. For younger students, it is more appropriate to control the proportion of electronic homework at about 10%. Schools should encourage them to practice and do more. Older students have stronger self-control ability and can realize that electronic products are just a kind of Learning tools, so you can add electronic homework appropriately according to your personal needs. He emphasized that those who have made a breakthrough in learning ultimately rely on their own experience and thinking, which cannot be given by online courses. By increasing offline activities, students can develop their ability to discover and solve problems.

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