Have you ever heard of a handwriting robot? Last week, Chinese news was filled with reports of a young student who had made use of a ‘handwriting robot’ for completing her Lunar New year holiday homework in minimal time. The news was greeted with a mixed response.
According to Qianjiang Evening News, a junior high-school student from Harbin spent $118 on a copying robot (also known as handwriting robot) that enabled her to complete the transcribing assignments and essays in no time at all. The girl’s mother became suspicious when her daughter completed the holiday homework without any errors at all. What raised suspicion was the fact that her daughter had very little time to do the homework because of Lunar New Year festivities and traveling. It was while cleaning the room of her daughter that she found a strange metal contraption along with its packaging that claimed that it could mimic any handwriting.
Once the daughter admitted to making use of the handwriting robot for completing her holiday homework, mother broke it and complained about the daughter’s deceitful tactic on social media saying, ‘It can help you with homework, but can it help you on tests?’ The mother’s post went viral quickly, and people from a different school of thoughts commented on it. One person commented, ‘Sometimes educators need to reflect on this issue, why is it we still need to do a task that can be completed by a robot?’
As it happens, requiring children to copy text such as poems, vocabulary, and textbook passages, by hand is a common practice in Chinese schools. The South China Morning Post did some research on the handwriting robot to learn that different variations of them are available on Taobao – a Chinese online platform. The prices vary from $30 to $147. The more advanced versions can enable users to input their own handwriting. These robots are capable of writing at 40 words per minute.
What do you think? Should we ban such handwriting robots? Should we change the educational practice that has given birth to these handwriting robots in the first place? Do let us know!