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Science reconfirms that handwriting improves learning – Viva a Vida

Science reconfirms that handwriting improves learning – Viva a Vida

There is no doubt that technology is here to stay and that, overall, it brings great benefits to all of us. However, no matter how much progress we make in this area, humans are still humans, with the same needs and the same functioning.

When we look at history as a whole, we conclude that a century or two are small periods, so all the technological development we see in recent decades is still very new. We cannot know, for example, what effects the Internet will have on children, what harm screen light will bring, or whether there will be an increase in hearing loss due to constant use of headphones.

However, in terms of the complete replacement of analogue by digital in schools, we already have important examples that we need to undo. This is the case in Sweden, which 15 years ago completely replaced analogue teaching with digital teaching, but discontinued the program last year. Swedish students were the first in the world to study with e-books only and exchange notebooks for tablets and computers, but in 2022, the Ministry of Education noticed a sharp decline in text translation, leading to the suspension of 100% digital teaching.

It is not yet known how harmful this move away from physical books and handwriting has been to Swedish students, nor whether a return to analogue books will be able to reverse the situation. What we know is that humans are not digital, they are analog, and that our brain needs time to learn and memorize.

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The importance of handwriting

Science states that one way to respect “brain time” is to write by hand, especially in cursive, where each word is shaped by continuous movement, making the process more fluid.

In Brazil, cursive writing is compulsory and is part of the National Common Curriculum (BNCC) since literacy eradication. The same thing happens in countries such as Spain, France, Italy, Portugal and the United Kingdom. In the United States and Canada, this type of writing has been practically abolished. However, after noticing losses in student development, Canada returned to requiring cursive writing last year and now it's the United States' turn, with more than 20 states also reinstating the requirement.

For Virginia Berninger, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Washington, writing is essential. “The myth that handwriting is just a motor skill is false. We use the motor parts of our brain, motor planning, motor control, but much more importantly the area of ​​the brain where vision and language come together, the fusiform gyrus, is where visual stimuli actually become Written letters and words.

A study published in the scientific journal Psychology Science evaluated students at an American university, and divided them into two groups: those who took notes by hand and those who took notes by writing. The result showed that students who wrote by hand had better learning than those who wrote on a typewriter. This is because the process of writing letters does not generate the same brain activations as writing.

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As Berninger mentioned, when we write by hand, forming words letter by letter, we combine motor exercise with mental exercise, and this combination of skills requires more time and attention, resulting in improved learning.

As a writer and handwriting enthusiast, I believe that handwriting is also an emotional exercise. One of the school assignments I enjoyed the most was writing a letter to a classmate and mailing it. When recipients were selected, it was necessary to obtain information about the colleague and look for similarities in order to develop the theme. Most students enjoyed the experience so much that exchanging messages went beyond the task and became a habit between the different groups.

To know that someone has invested time in choosing pen and paper, that they have searched for the right moment and a quiet place to write and to see the perfection of well-written handwriting, is evidence of affection that even the most modern computer keyboard in the world cannot provide. I do. to replace. Often, returning to the past can mean the path to a better future.