Since the global explosion of technology in the classroom – with smartphones, tablets and laptops increasingly available – the way students learn and the skills they develop has rapidly changed. There has been a lot of comparison between traditional versus digital methods of teaching and research into how effective each method is in retaining information and developing skills. A recent study conducted at Indiana University has found that when students develop their handwriting, they also increase their brain activity and improve their fine motor skills. The same study found that these benefits were not detected when kids were repeating their lessons verbally or typing on a computer or tablet device. Similarly, the Washington Post featured a comparison between two very different teaching methods at two neighbouring schools in the Washington area, one of which connects students to the technology world from preschool age, the other which aims to keep students unplugged world as much as possible.
Recently Australian newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald, took a deeper look into other benefits that handwriting brought to students. It found that in addition to information retention, students felt more of an emotional connection between themselves and their writing. The article featured year 9 and 10 students from Knox Grammar School, a boarding school in Australia, who wrote a fortnightly letter to their friends and families. The school found that this process gives the students an opportunity to process their thoughts and take more time with their writing – developing a deeper connection and delighting their families in the process as they received very personalised and thoughtful notes from their kids!
While the debate over technology versus traditional teaching methods will continue, we will always have a very personal connection with the art of handwriting.