Why writing by hand beats typing for thinking and learning” This recent headline from NPR’s  health news reinforces previous research about the importance of handwriting. For children, “Writing by hand also improves memory and recall of words, laying down the foundations of literacy and learning.” A previously documented “reading circuit” was recruited during letter perception only after handwriting—not after typing or tracing experience. . .handwriting is important for the early recruitment in letter processing of brain regions known to underlie successful reading.Handwriting training gave rise to better letter recognition than does typing training.” Hence, instead of learning keyboarding skills, children benefit from handwriting practice.  

For adults, writing also trumps typing with regard to memory.  The effort of taking notes long-hand appears to have the benefit of allowing students to think more intensely and comprehend the material.  A decade ago, The Harvard Initiative of Learning and Teaching published research that pointed to the benefits of writing rather than typing notes. Writing allows the learner to make connections between idea units and engage in deep processing of course content.”  Further evidence for this conclusion is supported by data from research studies at Princeton and UCLA that demonstrate that hand-written notes enable students to retain more information for longer periods than do typed notes. 

So, the writing is on the wall! Handwriting continues to be an important skill. Let’s not allow it to suffer the same fate as hieroglyphs. 

Laura Maniglia