Remember the value of writing

From John D. Williams, President and CEO of Domtar Paper Company in Fort Mill, in response to “Education must adapt to change” (Sept. 4, Viewpoint):

I read with great interest the op-ed from former N.C. Gov. Bev Perdue. I congratulate her efforts to found DigiLEARN and start a nonprofit that accelerates digital learning opportunities. While I agree a “one size fits all” approach to education can no longer prepare workers for a knowledge and idea economy, I am concerned we’re losing focus on one part of traditional education policy that can help kids grow academically in a variety of ways.

It’s something researchers have found helps students learn, remember, express ideas and perform better.


A growing amount of research underscores the importance of handwriting and the brain development it stimulates, yet some classrooms have eliminated handwriting from the curriculum because of advancements in technology.

Here are some reasons why we might want to reconsider that approach:

Since being named President and CEO of Domtar, I have worked hard to promote a reasonable balance of “pixels and print.” I strongly believe that paper textbooks and electronic devices, when used together, offer the very best chances for success in educating a student.

That’s why Domtar has created Project Learning Curve. It’s a campaign to remind people that handwriting is a critical part of education and development, and as part of the effort, we’ve developed a new tool.

Domtar has been working with software developers on an app that helps connect a digital pen to a computer, allowing teachers to measure students’ progress. The teachers can track how long students spend on handwriting or set classroom goals for students, such as writing enough characters to cross the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a fun way to encourage students to spend more time handwriting, to engage both students and parents, and to help teachers monitor the progress being made at home.

Technology is a helpful learning tool, to be sure, but its purpose should not be to replace paper. Rather, as Project Learning Curve demonstrates, we believe a healthy balance can help a classroom be successful.