Today I stumbled upon this New York Times article titled: What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades? Reading this got me thinking about a recent conversation about motor skills and learning with some wonderful Facebook friends. This past Thursday during our weekly EdAppTalk we discussed the power of motor skills in relation to learning. Here is part of that interaction between author Roxie Munro, TWA writer Jo Booth, and math app developer Yevel Belyavskiy:
Roxie Munro So, apps certainly engage more parts of the body than reading (though we all love reading!). Wonder how that affects absorption of information?
Jo Booth Motor acts to bring in more avenues of perception
Roxie Munro Does interaction confer power? So the child can influence things/outcomes, which they can't in a print book?
Jo Booth Interaction would have to be more than a tap on the iPad
Yevel Belyavskiy These thoughts about the way of perception, involvement, learning curve, memorizing are very interesting. Because, to the best of my knowledge, they are the same in other areas of mental/physical activities. Say, yoga, highest mathematics learning experience is based on the same ideas
Roxie Munro Yes, Yevel!
Jo Booth I always view the physical as providing the ground for learning
It was this comment from Jo that got me thinking about a blog post pertaining to this phenomenon of motor and learning before I even gave Jo a chance to write about it I stumbled upon this piece from the New York Times and felt compelled to share. Jo, you may want to share your expertise as an occupational therapist in another blog post, what you are saying has such validity and more educators need to understand this.
Does handwriting matter?
Not very much, according to many educators. The Common Core standards, which have been adopted in most states, call for teaching legible writing, but only in kindergarten and first grade. After that, the emphasis quickly shifts to proficiency on the keyboard.
But psychologists and neuroscientists say it is far too soon to declare handwriting a relic of the past. New evidence suggests that the links between handwriting and broader educational development run deep.
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.
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.