Audrey van der Meer is a Norwegian Neuroscientist and Professor of Neuropsychology at the Department of Psychology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology. She is also the Director of the Developmental Neuroscience Laboratory at NTNU Trondheim where they study human development and a better understanding of the underlying principles that guide development, learning, and cognitive ageing. Her latest paper ‘The importance of cursive handwriting over typewriting for learning in the classroom’ shows the difference in cognitive functioning and development when typing while taking notes as well as writing.
‘To write by hand, to type, or to draw – which of these strategies is the most efficient for optimal learning in the classroom?’
According to the study by Dr. Meer and her husband, the decrease in handwritten note-making in the classroom can be harmful in the long run as typing does not make the brain function as much. “As digital devices are increasingly replacing traditional writing by hand, it is crucial to examine the long-term implications of this practice,” they suggest.
For educators, this is more like a guide since this year saw a lot of virtual learning happen, even in some parts of the world schools haven’t reopened yet. More so, the education field is taking a turn for good towards the technology. While we study and implement the new age learning-teaching methods and we should also remember the basics, there was a reason why elders would ask to write and learn because it was less learning more understanding.
Dr. Meer in her paper says, “We suggest that children, from an early age, must be exposed to handwriting and drawing activities in school to establish the neuronal oscillation patterns that are beneficial for learning.”
As we plan and make blueprints for the 21st-century classroom which will have enough technology and digital teaching methods, we must also root for proper comprehensive development. The same applies to digital/virtual classes, giving a one-way lecture or assignments is not enough. Where learning how to type will help the children, so will taking notes manually.
“Because of the benefits of sensory-motor integration due to the larger involvement of the senses as well as fine and precisely controlled hand movements when writing by hand and when drawing, it is vital to maintain both activities in a learning environment to facilitate and optimize learning,” the study notes.
It is the responsibility of the administrations and education committees to take necessary actions that will result in the students’ all-round development. Dr. Meer’s study clearly indicates a relationship between study patterns and overall cranial (nervous system) growth. Such research should not be ignored and must be given adequate thought. Educators have done some amazing job going digital all of a sudden when COVID-19 pandemic hit, keeping the good work going, we now need to make plans for such a reopening that will develop your students’ brain at optional capacity.
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