“Pen licence” is an educational reform in the USA that was introduced in 2014. According to this system, in the early years of primary schools, children are required to write in pencil. They are not allowed to use a pen until they demonstrate fluent and legible writings. Only then they earn pen licence: a certificate that states that they are now allowed and expected to use ink for both schoolwork and homework. The point of crediting pencil is that pens can be difficult to hold and control, with the potential of the ink smudging, which makes it more complicated for children to master the basic movements of handwriting. However, in my opinion, it is not the basic ideology that lies behind this reform.
Getting pen licence means students need to have a great sense of responsibility for their writing product as writing with an ink is a mark for eternity. In other words, children have to think before they act because what they have already written with an ink is not erasable. But, the question is, what is the point of practicing writing with a pencil in order to master pen? That is because using a pencil is all about change and correction in their writings. It may indicate that mistakes should be put right and should not be ignored not only in their writings but also in their daily life.
In Japan, much of the writing in schools is done with a pencil. A saying in Japan is that “your writing reflects what your heart looks like”. Using a pencil makes it easier to erase mistakes – and to provide a flawless handwriting, even if it is not on the first try. As a result, Japanese have much less bias against pencil and feel much more comfortable using it. Hence, they have no problem with creating documents in pencil. Conversely, in most European countries, especially in Finland where typing is taught instead of handwriting, pencil seems to have a dirty and uneducated feel, and people are much more hesitant to use pencil for documents someone else can see.
This can even be extended to a wider view of the difference between lean in Japan and lean in the European countries. In Japan, it is absolutely okay to fix, improve, and change until the result is flawless. In the Western world, the goal has to be achieved on the first try, even if there are a few smudges and spots left at the end. Amazing! The whole difference between Japanese and European lean boils down to what we write with at school!
As for Kazakhstan, practicing with pencil before switching to pen might be highly worthwhile, especially with the great number of work that teachers should do and with the less and less amount of time that they have. The reason is illegible handwriting is the primary cause for loss of staff time and prevents them from continuing their work-related task.
What do you think if the reform “Pen licence” will be implemented in Kazakhstan too?
Does it worth or it is a waste of time to educate writing with a pencil and then with a pen?
What are the other advantageous or disadvantageous points?