“You will never see me taking notes in class on a laptop.”
That decisive statement from WMU engineering student Jacob Gabriel Courey is, it turns out, backed by science.
“Handheld technology may help kids communicate faster with their thumbs on a phone than with a pencil on paper,” notes this article from Domtar. “But research shows that handwriting benefits outweigh digital advances when it comes to cognitive development in people of all ages.”
According to Dotmar, learning to write by hand activates key areas of the brain that are essential for reading and writing skills.
“Kids also learn to recognize letters through the trials and errors of early handwriting, a benefit that can improve their reading skills later in life. Research even shows handwriting benefits students who struggle with dyslexia,” the article continues.
There’s enough evidence to support the movement to bring cursive writing back to the classrooms … and the argument holds water for adults.
As the article notes, a research study on the advantages of longhand note-taking found “that older students learn better when they handwrite their notes rather than type them on a computer. Their research suggests that handwritten notes challenge students to recast a lesson’s contents. This process requires them to contemplate and organize the material, which helps improve understanding and memory.”
Reading physical books can make us more human; it’s not a stretch to think the physical act of writing offers many of the same benefits.
“Paper is the natural habitat of important ideas,” wrote Dr. Naomi Baron. “In a classroom – where information retention is crucial – paper remains irreplaceable.”
Digital devices certainly have their place in our lives. Yet typing will never completely replace handwriting, for reasons both scientific and ultimately human. Research shows us time and again that printed materials foster better recall, and there’s a growing movement among college professors to ban electronics in the lecture hall.
Print still matters for learning, in spite of some of the marvelous advances technology has brought to the classroom. Print matters. So make sure you send your student off to school with everything they need…including some nice, fresh notebooks and good pens.