How important are the 3 Rs for business?

“Spelling mistakes cost millions” according to an article on the BBC News web-site.

An on-line entrepreneur said analysis of website figures showed that a single spelling mistake can cut on-line sales by 50%. Would-be customers are put off and may be suspicious of the website’s credibility given their experience with mis-spelled spam and fraudulent sites. First impressions are important on the internet when users might only browse for a few seconds before moving on.

He also complained about the poor quality of job applicants. He says too many job applications contain spelling mistakes and poor grammar with some even using textspeak. And when they tested some of the applicants whose applications seemed OK it was apparent that they relied on spell checkers.

The CBI has long complained about the quality of school-leavers’ levels of literacy and numeracy –  and not surprisingly given that one in three children are leaving primary school unable to read and write properly. The CBI says just over 40% of employers are dissatisfied with basic reading and writing skills of both school and college leavers and half are having to invest in remedial training.

Misspellings and textspeak may be acceptable on social networking sites but not for job applications.

And in America (reported in the Times 12 July 2011), some schools and colleges will no longer be focussing on the “3 Rs” but the “3 Ts”texting, tapping, and typing.

So far 41 states have adopted a curriculum that doesn’t require children to be taught how to do handwriting, it’s just an option.

The argument is that writing is of limited use in this digital age and that keyboarding skills are more important. Which may be true but some experts think that learning to write by hand improves the way a child’s brain develops. It also encourages children to write in more complete sentences and researchers have found that children can compose essays faster using a pen rather than a computer.

So will handwriting be another of those things our grandchildren find hard to believe we actually learned to do and that some of us took great pride in our penmanship? Will pens and pencils be treasured artifacts for future archeologists? Lazlo Biro will be turning in his grave.

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