Our High Tech Kids
Today I am writing about handwriting, but it is just one more ingredient in this high tech world that has negative implications for our children. Handwriting is eventually going to be a thing of the past. There are so many more high tech ways to communicate and schools are beginning to focus on those alternate methods.
As a student I have found that writing notes helped me to remember important details much better than if I had typed them. My own children found the same strategy to be true. Conversely, I can write more creatively when I type. I teach writing to young children to facilitate reading. It helps them to single out letter sounds and sight words in isolation and then apply it to text. Clearly, the act of writin,as well as typing, has an impact and now we know more about why that is.
In a recent New York Times article it was said that:
Children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information. In other words, it’s not just what we write that matters — but how.
“When we write, a unique neural circuit is automatically activated,” said Stanislas Dehaene, a psychologist at the Collège de France in Paris. “There is a core recognition of the gesture in the written word, a sort of recognition by mental simulation in your brain.
“And it seems that this circuit is contributing in unique ways we didn’t realize,” he continued. “Learning is made easier.”
A 2012 study led by Karin James, a psychologist at Indiana University, lent support to that view. Children who had not yet learned to read and write were presented with a letter or a shape on an index card and asked to reproduce it in one of three ways: trace the image on a page with a dotted outline, draw it on a blank white sheet, or type it on a computer. They were then placed in a brain scanner and shown the image again.
The researchers found that the initial duplication process mattered a great deal. When children had drawn a letter freehand, they exhibited increased activity in three areas of the brain that are activated in adults when they read and write: the left fusiform gyrus, the inferior frontal gyrus and the posterior parietal cortex.
By contrast, children who typed or traced the letter or shape showed no such effect. The activation was significantly weaker.
Dr. James attributes the differences to the messiness inherent in free-form handwriting: Not only must we first plan and execute the action in a way that is not required when we have a traceable outline, but we are also likely to produce a result that is highly variable.
In a study that followed children in grades two through five,Virginia Berninger, a psychologist at the University of Washington, demonstrated that printing, cursive writing, and typing on a keyboard are all associated with distinct and separate brain patterns — and each results in a distinct end product. When the children composed text by hand, they not only consistently produced more words more quickly than they did on a keyboard, but expressed more ideas. And brain imaging in the oldest subjects suggested that the connection between writing and idea generation went even further. When these children were asked to come up with ideas for a composition, the ones with better handwriting exhibited greater neural activation in areas associated with working memory — and increased overall activation in the reading and writing networks.
We live in an age where modern conveniences are changing at lightning speed. The way we communicate, watch TV, use computers……………………….all drastically different than just two years ago. Even the food we eat is less wholesome than in years past. Our brain and other organs are still the same and requires proper stimulation and nourishment. It scares me to think of how we may be hurting our children as a result of modern technology.
I urge all parents and teachers to be fully mindful as we prepare our children towards their future.