Insights into handwriting vs keyboarding in our lives

Cursive, printing, or typing?

Does it matter how our children communicate?  And, what about us?

Jessica Brashear is a Momaha blogger (for those of you unfamiliar with our local Omaha World-Herald newspaper, it’s a clever combination of — yes, Mom and Omaha) and former high-school counselor who recently wrote about an unsettling discovery she’d made:  high-schoolers’ unfamiliarity with cursive writing.

An especially astute Facebook commenter asked, perhaps somewhat plaintively, “Does reading or writing in cursive make a kid smarter?….how is cursive going to affect his life in real world?”

What great questions!  (Particularly since I have good answers; see my blog next week for more details.)

Let’s begin with printing vs typing.  There are numerous studies out there, but I like these two.   Dr. Karin James from Indiana University studied the brains of two groups of second-graders: a keyboarding group, vs pen-and-paper group (she didn’t separate out printers from those who wrote in cursive.)  She found that the brains of those who keyboarded had fewer connections than those who had to even subconsciously or unconsciously form each letter rather than push the proper buttons.

The Association for Psychological Science has a study showing that taking notes by hand results in better comprehension than those who keyboarded.

The more connections there are within the brain, and the stronger they are, tend to correlate with an easier time with both rapid and accurate thinking, creativity, and functioning within our daily life.

Cursive, I would suggest, marries both left-brain and right-brain functions.  The part of our brain (usually the left) that tends to dominate when it comes to details — the pieces and parts — is used with printing.  But when each letter in a word connects with another!  That brings in the right brain, the part that tends to lead with the whole picture.   We all value both our left-brain function as well as right-brain function, but of tremendously more value is whole-brain function.

Using our whole brain means we see not only the details, but make sense of them as well.  “Fast” can mean going quickly, or affixed firmly in place — or even not eating!  What a writer means needs to be deciphered by the right brain.  It’s part of why robots do so poorly as substitute-humans.  They can calculate (left brain) but are clueless as to how to sell a pen or tie a shoe (whole brained functioning).

How do we get to more whole-brained functioning?  Brain Gym® and Rhythmic Movement Training are two beautiful, easily learned ways to do so!

Whole-brained functioning leads to all sorts of good things — decision-making, physical grace, optimum learning, social skills, emotional maturity.  Physical dexterity is part of this.

Neat and legible handwriting?  I’ll talk about that in the next newsletter.

Many of these notes will be posted as blog entries, either as-is or in expanded form, in my blog .  Hop on over and comment, or question!