Picture this. You’re handwriting an in-class essay so fast that you barely have any time to think. As you’re writing, you realize you disagree with yourself. The argument you’d hastily outlined at the start of the period is starting to feel flimsy. The clock is ticking. As the last seven minutes strike, it hits you that you need to restructure your paragraphs, but there’s no time left. All you can do is reword your thesis and hope for the best. You walk out of class upset because you know your ideas were better than what you put on paper.
Ultimately, the choice between handwriting and typing comes down to clarity. First, if you’re like me, your handwriting is awful. You’ve had English teachers tell you that they’d like to speak about your penmanship after class and have question marks littered across all your tests, even your math quizzes. Obviously, my ideas are not best showcased through handwriting, but the issue of clarity goes far beyond penmanship.
The clarity of your ideas will be diminished by handwriting your in-class essays. When writing, I always understand my ideas more as I write them. I often find myself coming up with analyses for paragraphs I previously finished or realizing I need to restructure my essay as I write it.
With a handwritten assessment, it’s almost impossible to gain clarity as you go through the writing process. You can’t go back and reorder your structure or shift your argument in its entirety. However, if you’re typing, last-minute thesis changes, paragraph reorderings or major additions to your essay can be easy. You don’t have to worry about not having enough space or eraser marks making your essay illegible. You can articulate your ideas as you think them, not just as quickly as you can get them down on paper.
Revision is a central part of the essay writing process and should be valued in in-class assessments, but it isn’t. Marlborough should be emphasizing well-thought-out, thorough analysis, not turning in the first idea that comes to mind. Obviously, when preparing for an APs, assessments might have to be handwritten, but there’s no use in encouraging shallow analysis in non-AP classes when typing in-class essays give students the opportunity to turn their best work in.
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