Event review 9 October 2015
First International Symposium: Researchers discuss handwriting
An international symposium, jointly organised by the Schreibmotorik Institut, Heroldsberg, and the Bereich Innovation und Beratung Deutsches Bildungsressort Autonome Provinz Bozen, at Schloss Rechtenthal in Tramin presented approaches on how to counteract children’s motor weaknesses.
(Tramin, Südtirol) – According to the recent results of a survey among German teachers, half of all boys and a third of all girls have problems with handwriting; and the trend is increasing.
What can we do about this in schools? What do the methods to counteract motor weaknesses look like? This is what scientists and experts from eight European countries were discussing at the First International Symposium on the topic of handwriting, which took place on 9th October 2015 at the Fortbildungsakademie Schloss Rechtenthal in Tramin. The International Symposium on Handwriting Skills was jointly organised by the Schreibmotorik Institut, Heroldsberg, and the Bereich Innovation und Beratung Deutsches Bildungsressort Autonome Provinz Bozen.
Dr Marianela Diaz Meyer, Director of the Schreibmotorik Institut, and Dr Rudolf Meraner, Director of Innovation and Consulting in the country’s German education department, opened the international Symposium, which was simultaneously interpreted into German and English.
In his welcome speech, Rudolf Meraner, director of the Bereich Innovation und Beratung in the country’s German education department, said he was “quite proud” that such a top-ranking congress was taking place in South Tirol. The venue was fitting: education is of great importance in this country – something that was proven by the results of the educational achievement study PISA.
Dr Diaz Meyer greeted the internationally diverse group of participants and emphasised that the Symposium, with the title “Innovation and future of learning to write: impulses and insides from latest research, up-to-date education and learning, and new materials”, reflects all of the involved disciplines from research and practice.
Professor Ralph Bruder, Scientific Advisory Committee member at the Schreibmotorik Institut, acted as moderator for the International Symposium.
IMPULSES FROM CURRENT SCIENCE AND PRACTICE
The topic of handwriting continues to be a focus of educational research. As the scientists from Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Great Britain, Belgium, France and the Netherlands confirmed in the speeches they gave in Tramin, the problems in all of these countries are comparable: a growing number of children have difficulties developing flowing handwriting. Approaches on how to remedy this problem have now been discussed in South Tirol: from audible signals developed by neuroscientists that guide children to the correct hand movements, to concepts that provide better support for motor development.
Dr Jean-Luc Velay, senior researcher at the French Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in the Cognitive Neurosciences Laboratory in Marseille, spoke on the topic of “Translating pen movements into sounds and music to facilitate handwriting rehabilitation” and Prof. Hilde Van Waelvelde from Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy at Ghent University in Belgium presented “‘I Can!’: an approach for remediating handwriting difficulties”. Both presentations were important impulses from the latest research on learning to write.
Dr Anneloes Overveldefrom the Scientific Institute for Quality of Healthcare (IQ healthcare) at Radboud University Medical Centre in the Netherlands contributed with her talk “Learning to write with a topping Teacher” on the topic of “Learning and teaching writing innovatively“.
In his presentation “Understanding the functional aspects of handwriting – New screening methods and educational materials”, Dr Christian Marquardt, Scientific Advisory Committee member for motor skills at the Schreibmotorik Institut, presented the results of the Schreibmotorik Institut’s research on innovative and contemporary learning-to-write materials. An important topic, to which Dr Angela Webb, Chairman of the National Handwriting Association in the United Kingdom, also dedicated her presentation “Handwriting: policy and practice in UK schools”.
DISCUSSIONS, WORKSHOPS AND NETWORKING
The speakers shared their perspectives with the participants on the future of learning to write and provided important food for thought for discussions during the workshops that took place between the thematic blocks. In these workshops, all participants were able to share their experiences and insights with each other from different perspectives and find common answers to questions. The concluding workshop on the identification of areas of activity in learning to write brought the International Symposium to an end. The aim was to present a detailed look at the innovation and future of learning to write in the areas of the latest research, up-to-date education and learning, and new materials.
In the run up to as well as after the Symposium, additional networking possibilities were offered to all participants: a get-together and guided wine tour offered the participants the opportunity to establish interesting contacts with other internationally renowned scientists and practitioners from a number of specialist fields.
“The International Symposium on Handwriting Skills has shown itself to be a well-suited platform for gathering a large number of experts who have spent many years working on the topic of efficient handwriting in both research and practical application. It was impressive to see this international interdisciplinary group sharing ideas and reporting on similar situations in their respective home countries”, stated Dr Diaz Meyer.
Fortbildungsakademie Schloss Rechtenthal, Bolzano (South Tyrol), Italy
Pictures: by permission of the Fortbildungsakademie Schloss Rechtenthal
Many thanks to all participants of the 2015 International Symposium. We were very pleased with the inspiring discussions and lively exchanges in Bolzano.