Handwriting Matters!

More and more, I see students getting angry when they have to write something by hand: "I can do it faster on the computer! It's easier if I just type it! Why do we have to write it?" These are questions that I hear nearly every day. And I won't disagree: I believe that allowing students to use the computer for many activities and assignments does allow us to spend less time writing it out and more time exploring new topics, but I have often wondered about what they are losing by not learning to read and write cursive and printing as I had when I was a student. Now, I don't think this is a concern for all schools or an urgent concern: Indeed, I would venture to say the K-12 school system in which children are doing any significant amount of classwork on a computer are a still tiny minority. Still, that is changing, and we should be aware of the possible effects. Here's why: *Common Core standards only focus on handwriting in the first few years of schooling. * Children learn to generate ideas and retain information better when they learn it as they learn to write by hand. * A 2012 study showed that children who had drawn a letter freehand exhibited increased activity in three areas of the brain that are activated in adults when they read and write: the left fusiform gyrus, the inferior frontal gyrus and the posterior parietal cortex. Those who had typed or traced the shape showed a much weaker effect. * Variation in handwriting forces us to learn to recognize words in letters in a variety of contexts that seeing different fonts on a computer screen cannot replicate. * One study demonstrated that printing, cursive writing, and typing on a keyboard are all associated with distinct and separate brain patterns. Students who write by hand were able to come up with ideas more quickly, and had greater neural activity for working, active memory while asked to think creativity. * A 2012 review suggests that cursive may be particularly effective for individuals with developmental dysgraphia — motor-control difficulties in forming letters — and that it may aid in preventing the reversal and inversion of letters. * Overall, memory and learning ability may be increased by handwriting. And this applies for those of all ages! Students and adults alike learn better when they take notes and record things by hand, as showed by many studies. The process of reflection and manipulation required leads to better understanding and memory encoding. For more from the NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/03/science/whats-lost-as-handwriting-fades.html?_r=0 Image credit: NY Times

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