According to The Wall Street Journal, some college students are freaking out because their professors are imposing a Draconian standard on them: taking their notes by hand, and not on computer.
Since the younger generation has taken to texting and typing on their laptops, as has been widely noted, cursive handwriting has fallen into disuse, prompting panic among students who either have no idea how to write or complain that their hands get weary from writing.
As edutopia.com noted, “The Common Core State Standards, adopted by 42 states and the District of Columbia, call for handwriting instruction in kindergarten and first grade only, and teaching in keyboard skills after that.” A 2010 report noted, “For decades, American students spent 45 minutes every day learning and practicing cursive writing. Until the 1970s, penmanship was a separate daily lesson from first through sixth grade and a separate grade on report cards. Since that time, however, its importance in the elementary school curriculum has declined steadily.”
One sophomore at Georgetown University, whose handwriting is barely legible, “begs notes from friends, reads textbooks and reviews subjects on YouTube when it’s time to take a test,” according to the Journal.
The Journal reports that some students are “recording classes on cellphones, turning to friends with better penmanship and petitioning schools for a softer line.”
One senior at the University of California, Berkeley, complained after his hand-written final exams, “My hand is yelling at me, basically.” He said he substitutes shorthand for some words, but then gets confused when he has to review his notes later.
One reason professors are implementing the handwriting avenue is because they can’t be sure just what the students are doing in class when they have their computers open. Carol Holstead, a University of Kansas associate journalism professor who banned laptops three years ago, stated, “I got really tired of seeing them out there on their laptops and doing something other than pay attention to me.”
One University of Connecticut junior wanted to ask his professor for a laptop allowance; he said, “That class was ridiculously hard to take notes in. I was thinking, ‘Hmm. Do I have a disability?’ I was very close to making something up.”
In 2017, the Cornell University student government unanimously passed a resolution urging the faculty to allow “greater freedom of student laptop usage.”