Is Writing The Right Thing?
I remember writing on the board as a new teacher. I was thinking the students would make fun of me because my handwriting wasn’t the neatest. Yes, I had some confidence issues as a new teacher. I always wondered if I was doing the right thing.
That was around 20 years ago and since then,
“the focus on handwriting and writing in general has diminished greatly.”
I can remember my work being ripped up in front of me. I was told that it was messy, I could do better, I was lazy, etc. As you can imagine my confidence took a dive. That feeling that I wasn’t good enough followed me into adulthood.
Whether it’s hand writing, story writing or copying from the board, the classroom focus has shifted. With the constant changes in technology it’s hard for teachers to keep the same practices in play.
“Students and Teachers are left wondering if they are doing the WRITE thing.”
Now I’m not saying that technology is the “DEVIL”. However, there are some processes that have left the school system. I believe that these processes are vital to learning and need to be returned to the classroom.
Firstly, it’s better for learning
One of the most effective ways to study and retain new information is to rewrite your notes by hand. That’s because putting ink to paper stimulates a specific part of the brain. The old LOOK, COVER, WRITE, CHECK technique used by educators’ worldwide is another example of its value.
Oh, an interesting tip you may not know- there have been studies showing that black pen activates the memory more than any other colour.
Speaking of memory, this was not my greatest strength in the classroom. I constantly struggled to keep up with the others. Some of the tasks my teachers used included.
- copying from the board
- having to write a phrase or a sentence by holding that information in my working or short term memory.
- Then transferring that information to paper.
Another was dictation- we were given our spelling words in a sentence or a paragraph. Then retained that information, manipulated punctuation, use our decoding skills and ability to create proper sentence structure in order to produce the desired writing task.
These are just a couple of examples of activities that are no longer daily exercises the classroom. It is my belief that these tasks were actually “exercising” parts of the brain that help with learning. While improving student’s ability to function better in the classroom.
“I have been in classrooms recently that see “the top of the class kids” not able to hold more than one word at a time and put it on paper. It’s a growing problem.”
Secondly, by practicing writing you become a better writer, RIGHT?
Many famous writers over the years wrote their first draft by hand.
This technique allows you to think as you write. That then allows the brain time to catch up. A 2009 study from the University of Washington supports this theory. In this study, Primary school aged students who wrote essays with a pen not only wrote more. They also wrote faster and in more complete sentence.
Thirdly, writing by hand prevents you from being distracted
The computer in front of you is a time-sucking portal. From puppy videos to ex-boyfriend/girlfriend stalking (not me of course honey if you are reading this) it’s just way to easy to lose focus to all the shiny things computers offer us.
It’s the same for students. As I walk around classrooms I often see students looking out of the corner of their eye at me. A bit like they are hiding something. When I head towards them, sure enough they are viewing the latest pop star or watching the latest Minecraft video blog.
Last but not least, writing keeps your brain sharp as you get older
Writing can be a workout for your hand as well as your mind. Some people claim that writing is a workout for the brain —engaging motor-skills, memory, and more. So, all you Baby Boomers get writing to help keep your cognitive skills stay strong and your minds sharp. Especially if you are as old as my mother in-law, who is always looking for the next activity to keep her mind fine-tuned in her later years (Hey Jude if you are reading this I didn’t mention your actual age, hehehe).
I know that technology is here to stay. Our need to have things finished in faster time is only going to increase.
Is it to the detriment of our children’s brains?