When was the last time you actually wrote anything other than a scribbled shopping list or noted a phone number to stick on the fridge?
There are arguments both for and against handwriting, and nowadays people choose keyboarding for most things. Taking notes by hand is better for learning than using a keyboard, say psychologists, or maybe this is being mooted because we are typing more than we are writing. Taking notes by hand at university or college gives students a chance to explore their notes in more detail by studying after a lecture, for example, maybe typing up their completed reports or notes on a keyboard later – but perhaps it is quicker to type the notes in the first place.
Handwriting reinforces our reading and language processing skills. Writing by hand slows down the thought process, enabling the writer to think about the words, how they are spelt and the structure of the writing, all making the writer more adept at the language they are using.
Children and Computers - Kids today are not frightened of a keyboard, and are quick to pick up new skills, especially anything to do with computers - they seem to be born tech-savvy. This is good news, as more and more education incorporates computer-based technology into teaching. Technology has become essential to how we access information and how we organize our lives, but just because something is new and useful, doesn’t mean that the old way is no longer relevant. Sadly not all students have access to a keyboard or a tablet, so the ability to write by hand is still as relevant as ever.
The acts of writing or typing on a keyboard each trigger different brain patterns, and apparently when children write rather than type, they produce more words more quickly and express more ideas. Other studies reveal that children do particularly well if they learn cursive writing as opposed to printing, which sparks the great debate of teaching print against cursive writing. I would think most children are taught to print, but not all are taught to write in a cursive style, let alone read it, and studies show that children who learn cursive instead of print writing score better on spelling and reading tests. This is probably because linked-up cursive encourages your child to think of words as a whole rather than merely parts. But print is much more widely used, and you will note most books and educational materials use printing.
‘Stick and Ball’ - Throughout most of human history, writing consisted of ‘stick and ball’ in writing, not circular or flowing figures (and the stick figures were not attached to each other). In at least two common forms of historic cursive, the letters are rounded but not joined (Hebrew Cursive and Latin or Roman Cursive). Cursive as we know it began in the mid-1700s; almost yesterday in terms of humans and written forms of communication - and one that might be on the way out already as technology continues to grow.
I have a bias, as I am a leftie - amazingly only 10% of the world are - and cursive was particularly difficult to master (I think it had to do with the angle of the pen and paper), added to which, we had a wooden pen with a metal nib and an inkwell to dip into, which wasn’t easy. Years ago I would have been forced to use the right hand, mainly because of prejudice against the awkwardness of left-handed writing and the prevalence of 'right-handed' utensils, and little was known about how your brain worked. I was taught the Marion Richardson style of handwriting, who was a British art teacher, educator, and author of books on penmanship and handwriting back in the late 1800s. Her style was a sort of upright hybrid, a joined-up printing, which was supposed to encourage children to progress to a personal style of their own, but guess what – I am still waiting, and I would use a keyboard any day in preference to any sort of handwriting!
Is handwriting still relevant in the 21st Century?
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