I heard it just a little while ago . . . Schools have stopped teaching children how to write in cursive. I remember going into second grade, and there above the green chalkboard were the paper guides teaching us the proper way to shape our letters, both capital and lower case, from A to Z.
In addition to that, I remember the thrill of the challenge, and the fear of failure. What if I can’t make those shapes? But, make them I did along with the other 29 children in my classroom. And apparently, we have experienced a greater flexibility in the way we use our brains as a result.
Granted, in those days, we didn’t have access to computers, laptop, tablet, or personal. Computers in those days were housed in buildings bigger than our homes. So, to learn how to form cursive letters by hand was more an expectation than something that is considered to be unnecessary.
But is it unnecessary?
Recent studies have demonstrated that being able to write by hand yields benefits that we didn’t expect. Today’s students often bring their computers to class where they record or quickly type their notes as the class progresses.
What was most interesting in the study was that students who managed to write notes long-hand demonstrated a far better recall of the presented material than the students who used their computers. They aren’t sure why this is the case, but there appears to be a distinct difference in taking notes longhand and taking notes by typing into a computer.
Frank R. Wilson wrote a book in 1999, The Hand: How Its Use Shapes the Brain, Language, and Human Culture. In it, he makes the argument that our brain development depends a great deal on how much we work with our hands. Depending on what we do with our hands, wielding an ax, playing the violin, or carving wood, we develop our brain.
The same thing is true when we learn to write by hand. Yes, teaching our children to input information into a computer is a vital skill in today’s society. But in order for our children to fully develop their brain, teaching them to write in cursive is not a bad approach. Any chore that teaches a child to use their hands for fine motor skills develops greater brain power.
Here are just a few skills we learn when we learn to write by hand: improved social skills, hand-eye coordination, improved long-term memory. It has been established that children learn to read more quickly when they learn to write by hand, and they are better able to come up with new ideas and retain what they have learned.