Does anyone else think the whole pen licence thing is barbaric?

Can we just take a moment to discuss the whole pen licence saga please?

It really is a bone of contention for me at the moment and yet I find myself being tight lipped in front of both my child and his teacher. When in actual fact I want to scream and shout about the whole bloody thing and how, in my opinion, it is a process that is causing children to be singled out in class because their cursive writing isn’t as neat as their peers and therefore they don’t deserve to write with a pen. Instead these children, the ones with the “bad handwriting”  can be easily identified because they are the only ones with pencils in their hands.

Lets just go back and make them wear dunce hats for all to see, as personally I’m failing to see the difference between the two equally archaic procedures.

Teaching has come on leaps and bounds since I was in school, inclusion is paramount, differentiation is instilled and stretch and challenge takes place and is clearly detailed on every lesson plan up and down the country – or at least it is on the days Ofsted inspect. These changes have been brought in to ensure all children are given equal opportunity to learning in an environment that is suitable for their needs and to ensure maximum progress and minimal self esteem declines.

So, why oh why are we still enforcing ALL children to write in one way – cursive?

Do all adults write joined up? I don’t think so.

Have you ever seen a job description that states “writing in joined up is an essential requirement”? I doubt it.

Yet here we are in the 21st Century making ALL children write with a pencil in joined up writing and then allowing them to graduate  one by one with a licence that allows them to use a pen.

A pen!

Have you ever heard anything so ridiculous as a licence to use a pen. We’re not talking about a licence to use scissors or any other sharp objects that you might consider some children not ready to use in a safe manor. No those things are given to ALL children in a bid to tick the box of inclusive practice at the age of 4, but a pen, no that’s a serious business that takes years of training and an actual pen licence.

All that is happening in classrooms now is that children from the ages of 6 and 7 are starting to compare themselves to their peers, question their ability to write neatly and obsess over whether or not they will get their pen licence before they hit the next year group or if, god forbid, they will have to start high school having never been legally allowed to write with a god dam pen.

It’s ludicrous!

This self torture of a child, their constant questioning of their own ability and their comparison to other peers is exactly what teachers have been trying to reduce and remove and in most cases have done so successfully, yet here we are still are using this method to single out those with neat handwriting from those with scruffy, illegible writing.

It’s barbaric.

It was barbaric when I was a child and it is barbaric now.

I vividly remember this from my days in school and then 8 years later when my little brother went through the same thing. What the teachers seem to be missing is that to a 7 year old child being told you have to continue to write with a pencil when your friends have been given pens seems like a punishment and a way to ridicule and embarrass them, not a way to encourage them to try harder.

And now history is repeating itself with my own children and their friends. Where their conversations have turned to talking about which lucky few received their pen licences this week and who still has to use the pencil of doom. The pencil that threatens to break or go blunt at any given moment meaning they have to get even further behind with their work as they hunt for another one or take the walk of shame over to the bin and sharpen their own, heaven forbid they should pick up a pen they have no licence to use.

As I said at the beginning this is a conversation I have avoided having with the teachers because I know it isn’t their decision, just one that has been installed in the school. I have also tried not to voice my own opinions on the matter in front of my son but instead encouraged him to persevere and assured him that I can read his writing and that it is getting better all the time.  In a bid to help improve his handwriting we invested in a specialised handwriting pen, it helps with grip so they can make the shapes of the letters easier. Personally I thought this was a fantastic idea and as it didn’t cost the school a penny I thought it would be approved but of course what I hadn’t taken into account was the he isn’t allowed to actually use the dam thing in school yet, what was I thinking?  So we now keep it for home life like some forbidden contraband and have invested in the handwriting pencil instead.

Personally I couldn’t care less whether he has the best or worst handwriting in his class as long as he is trying his hardest but what I do have a problem with is the education system still using this practice to  ridicule a child and prevent them from wanting to write, creating an avoidance of homework, story creating and anything else that requires them to produce written work because, quite frankly, they believe their handwriting is so offensive no one can read it anyway  – so what’s the point.

The point is learning should come first, the method in which this takes place should come second based on the child’s needs not the needs of the school.

We need to wake up and remove this barbaric practice and encourage learning and creativity to flow naturally from every child regardless of their ability to write joined up and put an end to the whole pen licence saga.