Whatever they do in Finland's schools, the presumption is that they are ahead of the game. Everyone assumes they've cracked it, when it comes to education -- less so on beach holidays and suicide rates, but definitely on education.
So when the Finns decide that cursive handwriting will be scrapped from the Finnish education curriculum and replaced by lessons in keyboard typing, we ought to pay attention.
The country's education board said that the change -- set to take effect in 2016 -- will reflect how typing skills are more relevant than handwriting.
Even in Finland, it's not passed without comment, but Minna Harmanen from the National Board of Education told Finnish publication Savon Sanomat that "fluent typing skills are an important national competence." And that seemed final.
So let's assume that's where we'll all follow and that handwriting belongs to the age of the quill, and pupils are all keyboard warriors from now on
How best to use this drive to the keyboard (and doesn't it seem that even that has a technological shelf-life); what's the best output we could get from all these pupils hammering away on their laptops?
They could do far worse than return to the ancient art of blogging -- to write in whatever creative formats get their juices flowing but to commit to a single, sustainable platform that acts as a portfolio for their work.
It would certainly do no harm for students to create a positive digital footprint for themselves. When they look for employment and potential paymasters look them up on Google, it would help enormously if the results were considered writings, rather than party pictures and lumpen flirting on social media platforms. Everyone's digital reputation is represented by the first page of their Google search -- it would do no harm if that front page was made up of sober considerations, not drunken celebrations.
Blogging also helps them learn the tools of digital communication -- not just writing, but video, audio, pictures, embeds and so on. All the assets of digital communication -- as well as the skills to organise them -- information architecture, categories, meta data, widgets, coding and more. Linking to the content of others, attribution, and the research that goes into creating blog posts are also the basic building blocks of digital literacy and digital citizenship. And on top of that, the ability to deal with comments (and spammers) will always come in handy.
So if we're going to down ink and start pupils prattling online, let's make it as long-form as we can. Let's apply the relevant skills of writing -- the ability to form an argument, to write cogently and coherently and to take account of the counter arguments of others. And let's merge them with the skills of digital creation. That's all that blogging is, and while it all sounds a mite old-fashioned, it might appeal to the pen-pushers lamenting the death of the old ways.