Technology vs. Handwriting. As a school teacher, this issue has certainly been a constant debate in the education sector. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology – I think it has such a huge place in the world. Technology has literally brought information into each of our hands. However, like all things, there are always pros and cons!
Technology has become so involved in our lives. These days, in majority of jobs at least, we use it to get our work done, and we use it to communicate with those we work with! Students now have so many different types of technology available to them for them to take notes, as well as perform research.
There is definitely room in our lives for handwriting though. I’m a firm believer in putting pen to paper in my classroom, especially in a mathematical environment where putting pen to paper can actually be a lot quicker than typing up a math equation.
There are several benefits of writing by hand, in particular from a cognitive standpoint as well as an emotional one. This post will outline a couple of these benefits, and hopefully more of you would make a conscious decision to include a little bit more handwriting in your day-to-day lives!
#1: Writing by hand improves learning comprehension and memory recall.
When we write by hand, our brain’s reticular activating system (RAS) gets activated. The RAS is the “command centre” in our brains that connects the cortex to the brain stem. This system is responsible for attention and motivation, which are key to forming and retaining memories. This system also filters all the information that needs to be processed, and tells your brain to pay more attention to your writing.
#2: Writing by hand helps develop stronger conceptual understanding.
When we write our notes by hand, we have to process the information that comes at us, break it down and then summarise it in a way that we can understand and make sense of it. Handwriting forces our brains to engage with the information much more than if we were to type up the exact same thing. With typing, the motion can get pretty mindless the more we get into it and we are likely to switch to autopilot mode where we really just end up transcribing information, rather than engaging with it and understanding it.
#3: Writing by hand is a wonderful mindfulness practice!
There is certain intention when it comes to writing on paper, which in my opinion does get lost when we tap away on a keyboard. When feeling stressed, sometimes writing your thoughts down on paper can also be an awesome form of therapy. Forming letters on paper causes you to fall into a certain rhythm, which can help get you into a flow.
Here’s a link to a wonderful TEDtalk by master penman Jake Weidmann as well, I love how he’s captured the beauty of writing by hand in this engaging presentation. If you’ve got time, do give it a watch and let me know what you think!
If you have any questions, or have a particularly special experience with writing by hand, please feel free to get in touch and share your story!