Finnish students will no longer be taught handwriting at school

02 Dec

Because we live in a completely digital world now; who needs to know how to write. Right?

Finnish students will no longer be taught handwriting at school, with typing lessons taking its place, it’s reported.

Learning joined-up writing, often in fountain pen in the UK, is almost a rite of passage for primary school students. But Finland is moving into the digital age by ditching the ink in favour of keyboards, the Savon Sanomat newspaper reports. From autumn 2016, students won’t have to learn cursive handwriting or calligraphy, but will instead be taught typing skills, the report says. “Fluent typing skills are an important national competence,” says Minna Harmanen from the National Board of Education. The switch will be a major cultural change, Ms Harmanen says, but typing is more relevant to everyday life.

There are some concerns that the move could disadvantage children who don’t have a computer at home, or schools where there aren’t enough computers to go around. But many people have welcomed the move. “For most teachers it’s sufficient that upper case and lower case letters can be distinguished,” says Susanna Huhta, deputy chairwoman of the Association of Native Language Teachers. However, she points out that handwriting helps children to develop fine motor skills and brain function, and suggests handwriting classes could be replaced by handicrafts and drawing. Social media users also see the positives, with one user on the Etela-Saimaa website saying: “Handwriting is a totally useless skill. Maybe not as useless as compulsory Swedish, but coming pretty close to it.”

And how will they learn how to sign their names, to sign cheques and legal documents?



14 responses to “Finnish students will no longer be taught handwriting at school

  1. realgaryseven

    December 2, 2014 at 1:48 am

    Reblogged this on ReactionaryThought.

  2. superslaviswife

    December 2, 2014 at 4:49 am

    In their defense, joined-up writing is taught more rigorously in Spain than anywhere else and mine is still so illegible that I write in print (my handwriting is not dissimilar to this text’s font. actually) and sometimes, when my hands are tired, in all caps. Many of my state-schooled friends from both England and Spain are in the same boat, even moreso when they work in STEM fields. I actually agree it’s a waste of time to try and ingrain cursive and joined-fonts into young minds when separate letters are more legible and typing will be more commonly used. As for signatures, monograms have always been harder to forge. The only real question is: Why not teach typing, cursive, print-letters AND monograms? Why just stick to one?

  3. Will S.

    December 2, 2014 at 7:58 am

    But legibility isn’t even the point; no one can read signatures, after all; they simply need be distinctive, to mark you as you. 🙂

    And yes; why must schools teach only one, and not all?

  4. Will S.

    December 2, 2014 at 7:59 am

    Reblogged this on Will S.' Anarcho-Tyranny Blog and commented:

    Another reason for homeschooling / private schooling / church schooling…

  5. Miriam

    December 2, 2014 at 9:51 am

    As a Finn, I couldn’t be more ashamed. I didn’t read the original article (the whole issue makes me sick) but according what you wrote and quoted, it gives a polished view. The whole concept of penmanship has been forgotten for decades. So maybe now they are lifting their hands up – nothing can be done so let’s make it ‘legal’. What a relief to the teachers!

    I wish it was possible to homeschool in Finland. No! Everyone must be equally stupid. Teachers fear their pupils, and a teacher, who took a teenager out of dining hall got fired. If a teenager prefers to disturb others, I quess it’s his right… It’s a wild, wild north. It’s every year in the news how finnish students learn more and better than other European students and love their schools so that teachers from all continents come to see that kind of wonder. In the next month it is said (in the news) how everybody is burnt out, students and teachers alike, there are more and more mental health problems of every kind. This pattern is repeated every year. Who are they fooling? My sister, a former elementary school teacher, is retired because of mental issues. The teachers have no tools to make order in the class.

    Back to the handwriting… A child learns what he or she is taught and required. ( for example the multiplication table is not required) Usually children are taught and required things that are supposed to be important. It is clear that Finland is still blinded By the technological success it has had (it’s all fading now, goodbye Nokia) I can’t see a bright future over there.

    And as to the signature, you don’t have a ID-card reader or app yet?

  6. Will S.

    December 2, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Here, various government ID cards still often require physical signatures on them, so even if electronic signatures become more popular here as time goes on, it will still be necessary to know how to sign for something physically, by hand, the old way.

    I suppose if that is eliminated, then maybe actual handwriting would be less important.

    But darnit, it’s part of a proper education!

  7. Peter Blood

    December 2, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    I switched to printing by hand when in University, because of the technical nature of much of my note taking. Physics, math, engineering…who can take notes in cursive?? (I did learn the Greek alphabet…) I got used to it and I always print now. Whenever I switch to cursive it’s a mess.

    The loss of cursive is sad, though. It’s an art form, and everyone ends up with their own distinctive style. It’s another in a long list of lost things we can lament.

  8. Will S.

    December 2, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    My handwriting is atrocious, and I mostly print when not typing, but I can sign my name distinctively. For that, I do credit being taught handwriting in school. 😉

    And some write in cursive beautifully. It is indeed lamentable, that anyone think it worth dropping from the curriculum. Alas…

  9. Eric

    December 3, 2014 at 12:23 am

    When I was in school, those nuns used to make us re-write anything they couldn’t read. Nowadays people compliment me on my handwriting, though LOL

  10. Will S.

    December 3, 2014 at 8:21 am

    It works! 🙂

  11. feeriker

    December 3, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Most U.S. schools no longer teach cursive writing. It’s mostly private religious schools that still do.

  12. Will S.

    December 3, 2014 at 2:37 pm


  13. kategladstone

    December 29, 2014 at 6:36 am

    The facts on the Finnish situation:

    • What’s being introduced, along with all that typing, is a semi-joined (rather than 100% joined) handwriting resembling a Renaissance-era form called “italic” (the streamlined, print-like flowing hand that was standard for handwriting textbooks throughout Europe until the Baroque era began morphing it into the ceaselessly joined, loop-filled, accident-prone cursive that too many Americans suppose has always been there.

    • What’s being discontinue in Finland is not “handwriting,” but only that ceaselessly joined way of producing handwriting. (Sources below, for this and other cited published info.

    Handwriting matters — but does cursive matter? The research is surprising. For instance, it has been documented that legible cursive writing averages no faster than printed handwriting of equal or greater legibility. (Sources for all research are listed below.)

    More recently, it has also been documented that cursive does NOT objectively improve the reading, spelling, or language of students who have dyslexia/dysgraphia.
    This is what I’d expect from my own experience, by the way. As a handwriting teacher and remediator, I see numerous children, teens, and adults — dyslexic and otherwise — for whom cursive poses even more difficulties than print-writing. (Contrary to myth, reversals in cursive are common — a frequent cursive reversal in my caseload, among dyslexics and others, is “J/f.”)
    — According to comparative studies of handwriting speed and legibility in different forms of writing, the fastest, clearest handwriters avoid cursive — although they are not absolute print-writers either. The highest speed and highest legibility in handwriting are attained by those who join only some letters, not all: joining only the most easily joined letter-combinations, leaving the rest unjoined, and using print-like shapes for letters whose printed and cursive shapes disagree.

    Reading cursive still matters — but reading cursive is much easier and quicker to master than writing the same way too. Reading cursive, simply reading it, can be taught in just 30 to 60 minutes — even to five- or six-year-olds (including those with dyslexia) once they read ordinary print. (There’s even an iPad app teaching kids and others to read cursive, whether or not they write it or ever will write it. The app — “Read Cursive” — is a free download. Those who are rightly concerned with the vanishing skill of cursive reading may wish to visit for more information.)

    We don’t require our children to learn to make their own pencils (or build their own printing presses) before we teach them how to read and write. Why require them to write cursive before we teach them how to read it? Why not simply teach children to read cursive — along with teaching other vital skills, such as a form of handwriting that is actually typical of effective handwriters? (By all appearances, this is what Finnish children are now gating to learn.)
    Just as each and every child deserves to be able to read all kinds of everyday handwriting (including cursive), each and every one of our children — everywhere in the world — deserves to learn the most effective and powerful strategies for high-speed high-legibility handwriting performance.
    Teaching material for practical handwriting abounds — especially in the UK and Europe, where such handwriting is taught at least as often as the accident-prone cursive which is venerated by too many North American educators. Some examples, in several cases with student work also shown:,,,,, )

    Even in the USA and Canada, educated adults increasingly quit cursive. In 2012, handwriting teachers across North America were surveyed at a conference hosted by Zaner-Bloser, a publisher of cursive textbooks. Only 37% wrote in cursive; another 8% printed. The majority — 55% — wrote with some elements resembling print-writing, others resembling cursive.
    (If you would like to take part in another, ongoing poll of handwriting forms — not hosted by a publisher, and nor restricted to teachers — visit for the One-Question Handwriting Survey, created by this author. As with the Zaner-Bloser teacher survey, so far the results show very few purely cursive handwriters — and even fewer purely printed writers. Most handwriting in the real world — 75% of the response totals, so far — consists of print-like letters with occasional joins.)
    When even most handwriting teachers do not themselves use cursive, why glorify it?

    Believe it or not, some of the adults who themselves write in an occasionally joined but otherwise print-like handwriting tell me that they are teachers who still insist that their students must write in cursive, and/or who still teach their students that all adults habitually and normally write in cursive and always will. (Given the facts on our handwriting today, this is a little like teaching kids that our current president is Richard Nixon.)

    What, I wonder, are the educational and psychological effects of teaching, or trying to teach, something that the students can probably see for themselves is no longer a fact?
    Cursive’s cheerleaders (with whom I’ve had some stormy debates) sometimes allege that cursive has benefits which justify absolutely anything said or done to promote that form of handwriting. The cheerleaders for cursive repeatedly state (sometimes in sworn testimony before school boards and state legislatures) that cursive cures dyslexia or prevents it, that it makes you pleasant and graceful and intelligent, that it adds brain cells, that it instills proper etiquette and patriotism, or that it confers numerous other blessings which are no more prevalent among cursive users than among the rest of the human race. Some claim research support — citing studies that invariably prove to have been misquoted or otherwise misrepresented by the claimant.

    So far, whenever a devotee of cursive claims the support of research, one or more of the following things has become evident as soon as others examined the claimed support:

    /1/ either the claim provides no source,


    /2/ if a source is cited, and anyone checks it out, the source turns out to have been misquoted or incorrectly paraphrases by the person citing it

    /3/ the claimant correctly quotes/cites a source which itself indulges in either /1/ or /2/.
    Cursive devotees’ eagerness to misrepresent research has substantial consequences, as the misrepresentations are commonly made — under oath — in testimony before school districts, state legislatures, and other bodies voting on educational measures. The proposals for cursive are, without exception so far, introduced by legislators or other spokespersons whose misrepresentations (in their own testimony) are later revealed — although investigative reporting of the questionable testimony does not always prevent the bill from passing into law, even when the discoveries include signs of undue influence on the legislators promoting the cursive bill? (Documentation on request: I am willing to be interviewed by anyone who is interested in bringing this serious issue inescapably before the public’s eyes and ears.)
    By now, you’re probably wondering: “What about cursive and signatures? Will we still have legally valid signatures if we stop signing our names in cursive?” Brace yourself: in state and federal law, cursive signatures have no special legal validity over any other kind. (Hard to believe? Ask any attorney!)
     Questioned document examiners (these are specialists in the identification of signatures, the verification of documents, etc.) inform me that the least forgeable signatures are the plainest. Most cursive signatures are loose scrawls: the rest, if they follow the rules of cursive at all, are fairly complicated: these make a forger’s life easy.

    All handwriting, not just cursive, is individual — just as all handwriting involves fine motor skills. That is why any first-grade teacher can immediately identify (from the print-writing on unsigned work) which of 25 or 30 students produced it.

    Mandating cursive to preserve handwriting resembles mandating stovepipe hats and crinolines to preserve the art of tailoring.


    Handwriting instruction in Finland: (Finland’s Ministry of Education curriculum site for handwriting: in Finnish and Swedish, with illustrations)

    Handwriting research on speed and legibility:

    /1/ Arthur Dale Jackson. “A Comparison of Speed and Legibility of Manuscript and Cursive Handwriting of Intermediate Grade Pupils.”
    Ed. D. Dissertation, University of Arizona, 1970: on-line at

    /2/ Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, and Naomi Weintraub. “The Relation between Handwriting Style and Speed and Legibility.” JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH, Vol. 91, No. 5 (May – June, 1998), pp. 290-296: on-line at

    /3/ Steve Graham, Virginia Berninger, Naomi Weintraub, and William Schafer. “Development of Handwriting Speed and Legibility in Grades 1-9.”
    JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH, Vol. 92, No. 1 (September – October, 1998), pp. 42-52: on-line at

    Zaner-Bloser handwriting survey: Results on-line at

    Ongoing handwriting poll:

    The research most often misrepresented by devotees of cursive (“Neural Correlates of Handwriting” by Dr. Karin Harman-James at Indiana University):

    Background on our handwriting, past and present:
    3 videos, by a colleague, show why cursive is NOT a sacrament:



    (shows how to develop fine motor skills WITHOUT cursive) —

    Yours for better letters,

    Kate Gladstone
    DIRECTOR, the World Handwriting Contest
    CEO, Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works


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