Pen and paper revival: The many brain-boosting benefits of writing by hand | The Optimist Daily
Today’s Solutions: July 13, 2024

Now that laptops, smartphones, and other devices are so commonplace in our modern-day lives, the art of writing by hand has seen a decline. Before, young people were taught how to read and write in cursive at school as part of the standard curriculum. Since 2010, however, the Common Core standards removed this requirement from public schools.

Though typing our thoughts and notes out on keyboards feels faster and more convenient, there are many benefits to longhand writing that should not be overlooked. In fact, many states are now reintroducing the teaching of cursive in schools, a revival that is supported by educators, researchers, and parents. 

Read on for a few reasons why we should consider returning, at least sometimes, to the good old-fashioned pen and paper. 

Longhand note-taking improves learning

According to a study conducted by the Association for Psychological Science, taking notes in longhand rather than on a laptop leads to better comprehension. According to the study’s findings, “laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning.”

Cursive writing and brain growth

A report by Psychology Today showcases how cursive learning helps support brain development. While writing in script functional specialization occurs which integrates sensory, movement control, and reasoning.

Brain imaging reveals increased brain involvement during cursive writing: “To write legible cursive, fine motor control over the fingers is required,” the report reads. “You have to pay attention and think about what and how you are doing it. You have to practice. Brain imaging studies show that cursive activates areas of the brain that do not participate in keyboarding.”

Composition improvement and dyslexia support

Research shows that pen-written essays outperform those typed on computers in terms of quantity, speed, and sentence completeness. As academic therapist Deborah Spear says, “Because all letters in cursive start on a baseline, and because the pen moves fluidly from left to right, cursive is easier to learn for dyslexic students who have trouble forming words correctly.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, writing by hand is a cognitive workout that engages fine motor skills and memory, which is especially useful for aging brains.

Handwriting as a goal-achieving tool

When we write, we engage in an organized type of thinking that aids in collecting knowledge from experiences to direct perceptions, behaviors, ideas, and emotions in the present. This process explains purpose and significance, resulting in increased positive emotion and progress toward essential goals.

Dr. Marc Seifer, a graphologist and handwriting specialist, emphasizes the therapeutic benefits of writing, such as “graphotherapy,” which entails writing a soothing sentence numerous times a day to retrain the brain and attain a desired state, which is especially good for those who struggle with concentration.

Handwriting as a tool for intention

Keeping a sense of intentionality while producing letters on paper is an important aspect of handwriting that is lost when we’re typing away on our devices. In an increasingly automated world, thinking and writing on paper provide a tactile sensation that helps focus thinking. There are no auto-correct tools, grammatical suggestions, or artificial intelligence guiding your thoughts—just you, a pen, and a piece of paper.

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