According to this story from the New York Times, “research suggests that writing by hand allows [students] to process a lecture’s contents and reframe it — a process of reflection and manipulation that can lead to better understanding and memory encoding.”
The article, entitled “What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades,” goes on to say:
The researchers found that the initial duplication process mattered a great deal. When children had drawn a letter freehand, they 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.
By contrast, children who typed or traced the letter or shape showed no such effect. The activation was significantly weaker.
That’s troubling, especially considering how the emphasis in schools has shifted dramatically away from handwriting in favor of typing. Granted, learning computer skills at such a young age probably activates a whole other part of the brain — but still, can’t we be teaching handwriting AND typing? I mean, kids are smart, and their brains are like sponges!
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