Writing by Hand
” What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades”
That headline in the Science Times of The New York Times on Tuesday, June 3 , 2014 , caught my eye, but I thought it was going to be yet another article about cursive writing which would extol it as an art form, an individual identifier. Just last year British novelist Philip Hensher even described learning to write in cursive as a rite of passage.
However, this informative article, authored by Maria Konnikova, reports on recent studies which indicate that handwriting may be far more than just writing by hand. As brain studies become more sophisticated, it appears that there are specific advantages to writing by hand. Not only does it improve motor skills but it appears to improve memory and creativity.
In answer to Konnikova’s question “Does handwriting matter? We learn the following facts:
1) When we write ( by hand) a unique neural circuit is automatically activated. (Stanislas Dehaene) There’s even a difference between areas of the brain activated by printing and by cursive leading to different results. Some researchers suggest cursive writing may even be useful in treating dyslexia.
2) An interesting case is made that the whole process of learning to write by hand, with its inherent messiness, is advantageous because it helps the reader to recognize a letter no matter how it is formed.
3) Karin James of Indiana University finds that children who compose text by hand express more ideas. She has also found , in the studies referenced in Monday’s post, that students retain information better when they take notes by hand rather than keyboarding.
While this post is in no way intended to be a scholarly article, it seems that before we discontinue instruction in cursive writing – as has been done in 42 states- it would behoove educators to explore ” What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades. ”
© Dorothy C. Judd
Next Post: Monday, June 9th