Kids Should Be Taught This!

You may have heard about the benefits of learning cursive handwriting. Well, it seems to be getting some more attention from researchers.

While previous research has shown that handwriting improves spelling accuracy, memory recall and conceptual understanding, recent research highlights the cognitive benefits of handwriting over typing, revealing a significant increase in brain connectivity, particularly in areas tied to learning and memory.

Published in “Frontiers in Psychology” on January 26, this study adds substantial evidence to the debate on the merits of handwriting, potentially influencing educational policies toward integrating cursive instruction more robustly, as seen in California’s recent educational mandate on teaching cursive.

This investigation, led by Audrey van der Meer and Ruud van der Weel from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, utilized a unique methodology involving electrodes to track brain activity in university students as they engaged in writing tasks. These tasks included writing words in cursive using a digital pen and typing them, with brain activity monitored throughout.

The researchers discovered that handwriting notably increased brain coherence in alpha and theta wave frequencies, areas not just confined to motor execution but also integral to learning mechanisms. This suggests handwriting fosters a deeper, more comprehensive brain engagement than typing, potentially enhancing learning and memory formation.

The implications of these findings are profound, suggesting that the act of handwriting might facilitate deeper learning and memory encoding compared to typing. Although the study did not directly link the increased brain activity to improved memory retention, the observed differences in brain connectivity provide a compelling argument for the unique cognitive benefits of handwriting.

Despite the convenience and efficiency of typing, the study’s results prompt a reconsideration of handwriting’s role in the digital age, especially within educational settings.

While the study didn’t directly link these neural activities to improved memory retention, it lays the groundwork for further exploration into how these distinct brain activation patterns influence learning outcomes. The findings advocate for a balanced approach to learning, where the choice between handwriting and typing is informed by the task’s objectives and the benefits each method offers.

Highlighting the importance of maintaining handwriting skills, Van Der Meer advocates, “[Writing is] so good for [young] brains, so we shouldn’t use [this generation] as guinea pigs to see how their brains end up without any handwriting.”.

This is something my mom emphasized a lot when when I was growing up. I am glad to see that it is not being ignored by researchers. Hopefully schools will continue to teach cursive, or will bring it back if they got rid of it!

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