2016-Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

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2016-Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

Post by Admin on Wed Sep 07, 2016 4:29 pm

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A new topic here: Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age. Please read and discuss!

URL: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/06/20/why-handwriting-is-still-essential-in-the-keyboard-age/?_r=0

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Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age


New York Times,
June 20, 2016

Anna Parini

Do children in a keyboard world need to learn old-fashioned handwriting?

There is a tendency to dismiss handwriting as a nonessential skill, even though researchers have warned that learning to write may be the key to, well, learning to write.

And beyond the emotional connection adults may feel to the way we learned to write, there is a growing body of research on what the normally developing brain learns by forming letters on the page, in printed or manuscript format as well as in cursive.

In an article this year in The Journal of Learning Disabilities, researchers looked at how oral and written language related to attention and what are called “executive function” skills (like planning) in children in grades four through nine, both with and without learning disabilities.

Virginia Berninger, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Washington and the lead author on the study, told me that evidence from this and other studies suggests that “handwriting — forming letters — engages the mind, and that can help children pay attention to written language.”

Last year in an article in The Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, Laura Dinehart, an associate professor of early childhood education at Florida International University, discussed several possible associations between good handwriting and academic achievement: Children with good handwriting may get better grades because their work is more pleasant for teachers to read; children who struggle with writing may find that too much of their attention is consumed by producing the letters, and the content suffers.

But can we actually stimulate children’s brains by helping them form letters with their hands? In a population of low-income children, Dr. Dinehart said, the ones who had good early fine-motor writing skills in prekindergarten did better later on in school. She called for more research on handwriting in the preschool years, and on ways to help young children develop the skills they need for “a complex task” that requires the coordination of cognitive, motor and neuromuscular processes.

“This myth that handwriting is just a motor skill is just plain wrong,” Dr. Berninger said. “We use motor parts of our brain, motor planning, motor control, but what’s very critical is a region of our brain where the visual and language come together, the fusiform gyrus, where visual stimuli actually become letters and written words.” You have to see letters in “the mind’s eye” in order to produce them on the page, she said. Brain imaging shows that the activation of this region is different in children who are having trouble with handwriting.

Functional brain scans of adults show a characteristic brain network that is activated when they read, and it includes areas that relate to motor processes. This suggested to scientists that the cognitive process of reading may be connected to the motor process of forming letters.

Karin James, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at Indiana University, did brain scans on children who did not yet know how to print. “Their brains don’t distinguish letters; they respond to letters the same as to a triangle,” she said.

After the children were taught to print, patterns of brain activation in response to letters showed increased activation of that reading network, including the fusiform gyrus, along with the inferior frontal gyrus and posterior parietal regions of the brain, which adults use for processing written language — even though the children were still at a very early level as writers.

“The letters they produce themselves are very messy and variable, and that’s actually good for how children learn things,” Dr. James said. “That seems to be one big benefit of handwriting.”

Handwriting experts have struggled with the question of whether cursive writing confers special skills and benefits, beyond the benefits that print writing might provide. Dr. Berninger cited a 2015 study that suggested that starting around fourth grade, cursive skills conferred advantages in both spelling and composing, perhaps because the connecting strokes helped children connect letters into words.

For typically developing young children, typing the letters doesn’t seem to generate the same brain activation. As we grow up, of course, most of us transition to keyboard writing, though like many who teach college students, I have struggled with the question of laptops in class, more because I worry about students’ attention wandering than to promote handwriting. Still, studies on note taking have suggested that “college students who are writing on a keyboard are less likely to remember and do well on the content than if writing it by hand,” Dr. Dinehart said.

Dr. Berninger said the research suggests that children need introductory training in printing, then two years of learning and practicing cursive, starting in grade three, and then some systematic attention to touch-typing.

Using a keyboard, and especially learning the positions of the letters without looking at the keys, she said, might well take advantage of the fibers that cross-communicate in the brain, since unlike with handwriting, children will use both hands to type.

“What we’re advocating is teaching children to be hybrid writers,” said Dr. Berninger, “manuscript first for reading — it transfers to better word recognition — then cursive for spelling and for composing. Then, starting in late elementary school, touch-typing.”

As a pediatrician, I think this may be another case where we should be careful that the lure of the digital world doesn’t take away significant experiences that can have real impacts on children’s rapidly developing brains. Mastering handwriting, messy letters and all, is a way of making written language your own, in some profound ways.

“My overarching research focuses on how learning and interacting with the world with our hands has a really significant effect on our cognition,” Dr. James said, “on how writing by hand changes brain function and can change brain development.”

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Re: 2016-Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

Post by Tristan Xia on Fri Sep 09, 2016 5:30 am

Actually, the problem of the typing habit of writing is more severe in Chinese culture. Nowadays, more than more people face the problem that, since they has got used to digital writing, it always comes to them that they cannot find how the structure or the horizontal & vertical makes a Hanzi (Chinese Character) during hand-writing.
This problem arise from the root that Chinese character is not combination of letters, but pictographic character, which is more difficult to write and remember.

Moreover, good Chinese hand-writing, both pen calligraphy or brush calligraphy, is not only a symbol, but also a practice of Chinese culture. Practicing calligraphy do good to human personality, like patience, self control, and inner peace. All these quality can not be learned from computer or mobile typing.

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Re: 2016-Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

Post by sophiaguo on Fri Sep 09, 2016 6:09 am

Compared with writing on a keyboard I can remember the content better when I am writing by hand. So i used to take note by hand when i learn something new.

Hand writing is still essentical to help to keep concentration especially for children whose self-control ablility is not very well yet.

Besides, every nation has its own script, to some extent, hand writing is not merely a way to writing something down but more for a kind of succession of culture.

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Re: 2016-Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

Post by LUO JIAYIN on Sun Sep 11, 2016 6:33 am

I realized the fact that I can not easily recall what I have typed in an electronic product, the article told me it was caused by the different activation of the fusiform gyrus in our brain. Other than the essentiality in physiologically, handwriting is also deemed as essential in the consideration of culture inheritance, and in some extreme situation, where the computer/mobile phones are not accessible, handwriting is a tool for communication, delivery and retaining of messages.

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Re: 2016-Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

Post by jeremy_SG on Mon Sep 12, 2016 5:59 am

From the article, we could learned that,handwriting could engages the mind, and that can help children pay attention to written language. Handwriting also could help young children develop the skills they need for “a complex task” that requires the coordination of cognitive, motor and neuromuscular processes. We could easily conclude that, handwriting could develop human brain functions.
For my personal experience, even we are adults now, if we don't use handwriting, we could easily forget how to write a Chinese character or spell an English word. In the daily work, we still prefer to keep a book with ourself and write down any tips or infromation we should remeber, which is more fast and convenient than type writing. If we use a laptop to do type-writing, it is easily been distractived by other things ,such as instant message or email.
So , Handwriting is still essential in keyboard age.

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Re: 2016-Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

Post by Suky Yang on Mon Sep 12, 2016 11:21 am

As far as I conerned, handwriting is still essential not only for children. for adult also.

Like the article said, handwriting or cursive can stimulate children brain on forming the letter, to have the basis sence of words constructure, which keyboard typing cannot make it.

For adult, most of us rely on typing quite much, it always happen to us that some charicter don't remember how to write or some words no idea on how to spell. If we write more by hand, maybe it help to remember longer. Me, myself would like to take note with handwriting, I think it can pratice our brain more.

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Re: 2016-Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

Post by ShiLiang on Fri Sep 16, 2016 4:38 am

Children use more keyboard than handwriting now. It is a tendency that even adults cannot avoid. However, the science proves that handwriting is an action of forming letters, is a way to help kids concentrate. Besides, it is quite clear that good handwriting can help one raise academic achievements. Teachers usually appreciate nice handwriting and poor handwriting consumes the efforts. For kids in the first phase of learning, handwriting is a more complex task, which requires the coordination of cognitive, motor and neuromuscular processes. With that being said, handwriting is more difficult and forms good learning base for a person’s entire academic life.

Handing writing, is a motor coordination of people’s mind. Typing, on the other hand, is not a process of thinking, but a spontaneous reaction with the letters. The more you get familiar of the letter’s position on the keyboard, the less you feel concentrated on the word itself.
The world is changing, now kids are supposed to become more complex writer, they do hybrid. It means, the read, they write some time for outlines, and they type into paragraph. That is a mild way to balance typing and handwriting, for the time being.

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Re: 2016-Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

Post by Hu Huan on Fri Sep 16, 2016 10:30 am

Handwriting is a basis skills for people, if all things are recorded or written by digital equipments such as computers, people will be prone to depend on digital tools to memorize and construct, and subsequently put some parts of brain aside, if we are not used to write and paint by our hands, the function of brain can't be developed thoroughly and the innovation capability could decrease gradually. The connection of write capability, imaging capability and speak capability which were reflects from our brains' different parts will be reduced, thus the innovation capability would be weaker and weaker.

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Handwriting, memory, and creativity

Post by Lin Lixian (Lynn) on Fri Sep 16, 2016 11:16 am

On top of what the writer claims as benefits for handwriting, I would like to add two points.

First handwriting is helpful for both short-term and long-term memory. It creates more clues when you are using handwriting for notes. Partly because the exact way you write a word is unique, and partly because you are actively rephrasing the message in your own words. I guess the neuro has to form more connection with the individualized handwriting materials than monotonous typing notes.

Secondly handwriting forces you to slow down, so that you could be more immersed in the contents and meaning of what you are writing. As a result one becomes more focused. Compared to the more intensified thinking process with handwriting, the process of typing could easily carries one away with the quick flash of the typing prompts. There is also more freedom in the process of writing, or drawing. You are allowed to explore further details, supporting examples, or big pictures in the process of handwriting, while with typing your mind is so easily settled down by the seemingly changing yet repeatative action of fingers tapping the keys.

Typing has its own benefits--it is clear and tidy, and it could be really fast. But when it comes to brain development as mentioned by the blog writer, or memory and creativity, handwriting obviously still reigns.

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Re: 2016-Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

Post by Weng Shechao on Fri Sep 16, 2016 6:00 pm

On the one hand, handwriting plays a vital role during the children's growth stage. In the article, researchers recommend that children need introductory training in printing, then two years of learning and practicing cursive, then transit to touch-typing. Initial handwriting training is necessary for children's brain activation and may be easier to get academic achievement for children. Touch-typing on the keyboard is a direct method but it is lack of thinking and connection in the brain. Although touch-typing dominates business area, we still should insist handwriting skills in the childhood.

On other hand, with the development of touch screen, there may be possibility to handwrite rapidly on the mobile electronic devices. A revolution that combines the advantage of touch-typing and handwriting is coming. With the new technical skills, children can handwrite on the touch-screen or typing on the screen with the same speed, they can also cultivate abilities through modern devices.


Last edited by Weng Shechao on Fri Sep 16, 2016 6:10 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: 2016-Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

Post by benliu on Sat Sep 17, 2016 5:26 pm

Language is the exclusive distinction between animal and human being. As various studies in the article, handwriting is not only actively impact the cognitive process to language, but itself put a strong connection to the (native) language when people think in instinct. For example, coming along with the globalization, more and more people have the ability to work/study with bi-lingual even multi-lingual environment. However, most of them focus on listening, reading, speaking and even typing, not the real handwriting. Even in the Asia countries, handwriting has some other deep meanings. In China, calligraphy is not only a representative of fine arts, but also a cultural heritage through the country's long history of civilization. In another word, (keyboard) typing is just for the effective work.

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Re: 2016-Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

Post by yangqing on Sun Sep 18, 2016 5:10 pm

now we may be used to key board typewriting, but gradually not familiar with hand writing. hand writing shows us a part of Chinese culture quintessence. so hand writing is good approach to understand Chinese culture and history. hand writing can cultivate one's taste.

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Re: 2016-Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

Post by davidpan on Tue Sep 20, 2016 5:11 am

In ancient China the handwriting was a type of art. When I was a kid, my grandparents still thought me to improve the painting skills. However over the past 20 years, the education in China focused more and more on English and other 'useful' curriculum. I myself spent a lot of time practicing the handwriting and I believe that is worthy.

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Re: 2016-Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

Post by Mou Jingrui on Tue Sep 20, 2016 5:52 am

Applications of computer and keyboard bring us a lot of convenience, but people have lost a lot of fun writing. In China, there is an art called calligraphy, the reason calligraphy have become an art, besides its manifestations, it is an exercise and training of human psychological quality. Therefore, when we enjoy the convenience that technology brings, do not abandon the benefits that traditional art bring to us at the same time.

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Re: 2016-Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

Post by Wang Zijiao on Tue Sep 20, 2016 6:06 am

I'm still keeping the letters from my friends and colleagues several years ago. Every time I open it and see the familiar handwriting, it feels like seeing the old friend in person. I think it is one of the reasons why handwriting is still essential in keyboard age. Everyone has his/her special style of handwriting. It is a symbol of a person's personality in some ways. And it can express the profound sentiments from lovers, friends or relatives. In addition, handwriting is an art. In the long history of Chinese culture development, handwriting has also evolved as time changes. There is the remaing calligraphy culture with diversified branches which is elegant and worthy of appreciation.

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Handwriting will never die, just fade away

Post by Paul_lu on Tue Sep 20, 2016 11:21 am

It is a reality that handwriting is not that important as previous age. In past parents will emphasize that a good handwriting is a must for whole life, and classmate will laugh at you for your bad handwriting. but after the popularity of laptop and mobile phone, most people don't care about it. but still as mentioned in the articles handwriting is a process to stimulus our brain learn, which is critical especially for a child's early age learning letter and words.

Also thinking about Ali mentioned during class that write down what you hear is a practical way to actually remember something, I can fully agreed because I practice this theory several years, and works very well. I can see the handwriting not only bring visual comfort, also help a lot for our mind

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Re: 2016-Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

Post by BoqianWang on Tue Sep 20, 2016 12:16 pm

This article discusses about handwriting against typing. The author quoted several experiments and studies to make association between handwriting and brain functions. According the passage, it help children engages the mind, pay attention to written language. It can even help colleague students to get better academic achievement. Handwriting not only requires motor skill, but also requires the coordination of cognitive and neuromuscular processes.
I basically agree with the author. From my own experience, it is easier to be distracted with typing than handwriting. In other words, handwriting helps me be more concentrate.
Moreover, to add another aspect to help the author answer Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age - Handwriting is also an art. As being an art, it is unreplaceable because it gives both writer and reader the unforgettable experience.

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Re: 2016-Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

Post by wen wen on Tue Sep 20, 2016 12:31 pm

I admire people with beautiful hand writing, not only because they spent lots of time practicing, but also the feeling they gave readers. Long time practice will train people's physical and menta sustainability. Brain will think to improve each script and mind will pay attention to what people is writing. This behavior will influence them when they grow up. Those kids will have the habit of continuously improvement. Through practice, people will get mindfulness.

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Re: 2016-Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

Post by Zhenzhen on Wed Sep 21, 2016 10:09 am

I assume that it's the procedure of typing and writing affects the result of learning, understanding, and memory. When typing, we breakdown a word into several separated meaningless letters. But when hand writing, I consider a word or a phrase with its meaning as a whole. The tedious process of typing distract attention, and dissociate the connection between out brain and the content.
And by this article, I guess it's why Prof. Ali use the crazy handwriting style font on PPT to help us better memorize and understanding?
To me, I like handwriting much more than typing. Because I'm always distracted by the typos. So maybe one day, if everyone could type as proficiency as handwriting, the efficiency of typing will be increased.

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Re: 2016-Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

Post by Betty Yang (Cuiping) on Wed Sep 21, 2016 10:50 am

In my opinion, handwriting is essential no matter in the past age, or in the current age, or in the future age.

Handwriting is especially important for the children, as it engages both the hand and the brain while you write and it can facilitate to remember when you write.  In a world, it has positive impacts on the rapidly developing brains of the children. Besides, I agree with the article that mastering handwriting is a way of marking written language your own. And your handwriting is unique and is a symbol of yourself. Isn’t that cool?

On the other hand, supporting handwriting is not necessary to object keyboard typing, as keyboard typing has its own advantage, say, it engages both hands to interact with the brain when you type, and it is easier for the teachers to review the homework of the students in typing forms. However, regarding the importance of the two, I would think handwriting is the basis and keyboard typing is a plus. We welcome keyboard writing but we should never discard handwriting. After all, when you need to write something, your hands are always there.

If one day whenever people want to write, the first thing they must do is to find the keyboard everywhere as we could not write with hand, that is really a retrogress of the advanced and civilized society. Besides, diversity makes the world more beautiful, and the unique and symbolic handwriting, which varies from person to person, is exactly one of the diversities.

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Re: 2016-Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

Post by shan jianqiu on Wed Sep 21, 2016 1:12 pm

This topic is very typical issue in this information era.Handwriting is not necessary for people' study and work like before. People started writing words by keyboard on their computer or cellphone. It is more efficient and easy for writing. People love writing in this way. But what is the impact to us from this transition? Above article already gave us some answers. Our brain is very complex. When you are doing something by hand, the connection to the brain will generate a activation, too.This kind of activity is very helpful for people to exercise their brain, especially for children. so handwriting will become a personal choice of how to write. We need keep this skill in our life and let our children practice more when they are still in the learning phase.
We can't change this evolution in our lifer.but we can find a better way to live with it, and have a better life.

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Re: 2016-Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

Post by sunkuang on Wed Sep 21, 2016 4:56 pm

I would want to say that hand-writing is very important, not only for children, but also for adult. In China culture, we say, “”handwriting reflect character“”. When we was young, we all have the experience of practicing handwriting. And the children with good handwriting intend to be successful in the future.
By now, typing is becoming important also. why can not we put the two things together and benefit from both.

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Re: 2016-Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

Post by Tracy Bu Qijun on Thu Sep 22, 2016 6:24 am

Interesting article. Today everything is going digital. During work, we advocate "no-paper" environment and office automation. At leisure time, Kindle and mobile applications for reading is taking place for paper books. But one interesting observation is when I read by paper book, writing down or underlining something in the book, it is easy for me to recall the content. And the position where the content is showed in paper book do help me recall the content itself.

For Children today who can access to digital tools at early age, it is important for them to learn handwriting and get used to use handwriting in daily life. For adult, we may need to slow down a little bit and pick up our pen again at least in spare time. Let alone the fact handwriting itself can be creative and can be an art.

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Re: 2016-Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

Post by Carol-HuangSuYao on Thu Sep 22, 2016 11:04 am

In the keyboard age, some people argue that handwriting is not an essential skill any more. It is a misconception.

When we was a child, we were taught to learn handwriting. Because it is a good way to remember and learn. It is also helpful character cultivation. On the other hand, handwriting is good for brain development.

Imagine that, a good handwriting can make you be pleasant. On the contrary, poor handwriting influences examination or career promotion. Handwriting is also a kind of behavior that reflects personal cultivated manners, and also appears personal conduct accomplishment. Finally, handwriting is a cultural inheritance, especially for Chinese people, handwriting is an art, no matter pen-and-ink calligraphy or soft brush calligraphy.

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Re: 2016-Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

Post by Trezy Xue on Thu Sep 22, 2016 12:03 pm

The action of handwriting is not only for delivering the words, but also a process of creation.

In many languages, handwritings are developed into a from of art, like Chinese calligraphy. When you do a hand writing, many functions of our brains need to be used, like the function of memory, the sense of space, the sense of sequences, and some senses of art. In contrast, keyboard typing only needs mechanical movements of fingers.

If we want the brain to be more developed, we need to practice with our brain in many different ways. Hand writing definitely can help, especially when we are in young age. The best years to develop the brain are in our young age.
Another important reason is that learning to hand write is a way to learn the beauty of words, and could help us to understand the meanings of the words deeply, especially in Chinese culture. With this learning, people would enjoy reading and interact with words.


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