Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The three Ts

I have been reading, in our local newspaper, that handwriting may become obsolete and that schools of the future may concentrate on The Three Ts rather than The Three Rs (for those of you who don't know what the Three Rs are - Reading wRiting and aRithmetic). The Three Ts refers to Typing, Texting and tapping. As I read this I was filled with dread and hoped that we were not going to throw the baby out with the bath water. Handwriting is a skill that we use a lot in many different ways.

I decided to see what other people were saying about this topic and found an article from The Tribune newspaper which reassured me. In this article the author points to some emerging research (from Indiana University) showing that handwriting "increases brain activity, hones fine motor skills and can predict a child’s academic success in ways that keyboarding can’t."

Here are some of the reasons this article referred to as to why handwriting is important:
  • Handwriting may change the way children learn and how their brains develop. In the Indiana University study researchers used scans to measure brain activation in preschool children who were shown letters. One group of children then practiced printing the letters; the other group practiced seeing and saying the letters. After four weeks the children who practiced writing showed brain activation similar to an adult’s. The printing practice also improved letter recognition.
  • Handwriting may be faster. Researchers in another study (from the University of Washington)tested children aged seven to ten and found that children compose essays faster when using a pen rather than a keyboard. In addition they found older children wrote more complete sentences when they used a pen. This study as also shows that forming letters by hand may engage our brains thinking differently rather than pressing down on a key.
  • Handwriting aids memory. By writing yourself a list or a note you’re much more likely to remember the list rather than if you just tried to memorize it.
However technology may help invigorate the practice of handwriting as applications that allow users to hand-scribble notes on a touch screen rather than paper may be useful tools. Researchers are working on software to help improve handwriting.

I would be interested to know what others feel about this debate.

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