Write more by hand

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

handwriting1Writing by hand has many advantages, especially in regards to absorbing information. Alone for that reason writing by hand, aka handwriting, should not be taken out the curriculum of schools and should continue to be taught. That does not need to mean, necessarily, so-called cursive or joint-up writing. That sure is something that I, for one, cannot do. Never learned it and having tried to do it it is just too slow for me. I can write in print much faster though always envy those that have a great handwriting in cursive script.

While I do use a computer for a lot of my writing I could and would never attempt to use the computer for taking notes. I rather do that by hand and the reason for that is, as stated by the learning specialists, the fact that when we take notes by hand, as we cannot, unless we use shorthand, take down every word we write our own version of what is being said and thus we understand everything much better.

Handwriting is fast going out of fashion despite the fact that it has many advantages says Matthias Deliano, biologist and learning specialist/researcher at the Leibniz-Institute for Neurobiology in Magdeburg.

He also says that we should write as often as possible by hand and we should on no account stop the writing by hand. On the contrary we should encourage the use of handwriting and definitely keep teaching it at schools.

While it is faster and more efficient to write stuff on the computer writing by hand allows us to absorb information far better such as when making notes during a lecture, for instance as, as I have already mentioned, due to the slower speed of writing by hand (unless you do speed-writing or shorthand) it is not possible to write everything down word for word and you have to summarize what you have heard already to write it down. Thus you already mentally process the information in a different way and absorb it.

Even if, due to a messy handwriting, you may not be able to read all your notes afterward this is not important, say the experts, as you have already, by means of your note-taking by hand, absorbed most of the information and processed the knowledge in your head and stored it there. And that is what is most important.

On the other hand I like to be able to read my notes as they are the foundation to articles that I write and thus I try to write at least to some degree legible and I think we should all do aim to do that.

Writing by hand, however, requires pencil or pen and paper and I know that there will be those that will scream that the use of paper is bad for the environment, as it is using “dead trees”, and they will claim that using electronic means saves trees and thus forests. Not so fast, folks.

Aside from the fact that it has been proven that using paper notes and pen to be much better for us to write properly also reading a proper book allows absorption of the matter far better, also proven, that reading on a device. It seems that paper works differently on our brain that the screen.

In addition paper does not, necessarily, have any negative impact on forests as the majority of paper is produced from the wood of trees specifically grown for paper production. Were it not for the paper industry those forests would not exist, and that is a fact. Thus paper and the environment are not diametrically opposed to each other, not by a long shot.

Another thing to be said for writing by hand on paper, especially in notebooks, is that first of there are no batteries required or other power source. Secondly it does not matter whether a main battle tank runs over the notebook, the “data” is still there to be retrieved. Something that more than likely would not be possible with an electronic device. Furthermore, depending on the ink used the words thus written will be retained almost for ever (not something we can guarantee for any of the electronic data storage devices of today). And finally, though that may not actually be the final word on this, your paper notebooks do not break down and can be read also in bright sunlight, and at the end of their lives, should you ever wish to dispose of them, they will simply compost back into soil. Oh, and one thing I forgot, and that is that, like with any other wood product, your notebooks have stored carbon dioxide that will be retained in the pages of the book for as long as the book itself “lives”. Not all that bad environmentally, all things considered.

© 2017