As laptops and tablets become more commonly used as writing tools, many are ready to leave the skill of handwriting behind. Most students will do most of their writing on computers, the thinking goes, so educators should get them started on keyboarding skills early. But psychologist are uncovering some unexpected benefits of learning — not just to write, but to write by hand. In her New York Times article Maria Konnikova explains some of the newest research.
“New evidence suggests that the links between handwriting and broader educational development run deep. Children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information. In other words, it’s not just what we write that matters — but how. ‘When we write, a unique neural circuit is automatically activated,’ said Stanislas Dehaene, a psychologist at the Collège de France in Paris. ‘There is a core recognition of the gesture in the written word, a sort of recognition by mental simulation in your brain.'”
Does handwriting matter? Not very much, according to many educators. The Common Core standards, which have been adopted in most states, call for teaching legible writing, but only in kindergarten and first grade. After that, the emphasis quickly shifts to proficiency on the keyboard.