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With discussion in the news lately about whether schools should continue to teach cursive handwriting or not, you could be forgiven for seeing handwriting as an unimportant aspect of a modern, digital life. However, I believe that handwriting should be treasured, and I’ll outline the reasons why below. Sure, there’s a place in our lives for word processing – in fact, I confess, I didn’t write this blog post out by hand before typing it up! – but in certain scenarios, nothing can replicate or beat the simple combination of pen and paper.
It’s an excellent way to learn
Writing by hand stimulates a part of the brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS); a part not stimulated by the act of typing. In short, this means that you are far more likely to recall words or information you write by hand compared to words/information you read or type. This works the same for children and adults.
It uses more of your brain than typing
While some of the same parts of your brain are used for typing as writing by hand, to write legibly with a pen or pencil, fine motor control is needed over your fingers. This uses an extra part of your brain, meaning you are more engaged in the task at hand.
There are no distractions
Typing can be much quicker than handwriting at times, however the device you are typing on – be it a PC, laptop or tablet – is often full of distractions. Keeping it simple with your pen and paper means you can concentrate fully on the task at hand and not on notifications for social media apps, email accounts, and such.
It can improve your writing
If you are a writer, it has often been claimed that writing by hand, at least for the initial bones of a story, can inspire creativity and essentially make you a better writer. You are forced to think about every word and sentence that you write, as opposed to typing on a computer, where you throw down any old words, knowing you can easily alter or delete them later. In fact, editing as you go along can interrupt your flow, and be counterproductive.
It is personal
Your handwriting is as personal as your fingerprints, and loved ones appreciate receiving something handwritten from you much more than something typed. Not just loved ones either – you could really stand out after a job interview, for example, by handwriting a thank you note to the interviewer. Also, writing by hand offers a sense of personal achievement and ownership that typing simply cannot emulate.
It’s part of our cultural identity
When you look at how those from other countries write their English language characters compared to natives, it is clear to see that handwriting is not only unique to each person, but also unique to each country. For example, British natives often cross their T’s once they have completed the word they are writing, whereas non-native English writers might cross the T as soon as they form the letter because of how they were taught.
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