September 14, 2016

Cursive Handwriting vs Typing Your Words

Cursive handwriting may be old school, but it’s something I love to do and it’s got scientific backing for having cognitive benefits, as well. 

Most of my day is spent using a keyboard. In fact, I have a special mechanical keyboard that I use with my desktop for most of my work. It has a fun clicking sound as I type, which is nice. More importantly, it is designed to fight fatigue for those who type for long periods of time.

Does it work? I think it helps. I like it. This does not mean that I prefer typing over using a pen and paper. I like both, and when I am writing by hand I appreciate that I am adept at writing in cursive. Sad to think that cursive handwriting is not being taught in schools any longer.

Palmer Method alphabet
Example of the Palmer Method of Cursive Handwriting

Benefits of Cursive Handwriting 

There are lots of good arguments for writing in cursive. For me, the benefits are personal but there are lots of educators, psychologists, and researchers who argue that handwriting, particularly cursive or script handwriting, benefits the human brain.

Why I Like Cursive Handwriting 

  • It’s faster than printing your words.  Personally, I like cursive handwriting for the purpose given to me long ago by my teachers: it is a faster way to get thoughts down on paper when you are writing by hand. That’s true. (Sure, typing is faster than both.) 
  • It’s also pretty. I like using cursive handwriting in thank you notes, birthday cards, etc. It also makes my planners look nice. 
  • It’s great to use in brain dumps. When I am trying to dump all sorts of random thoughts down on paper, I appreciate cursive handwriting. It may lose some of its beauty with the speed, but it works well when I’m fighting to get control over all that junk in my head by getting it down on paper. 
  • It’s nice to use in my journals. I have been journaling all my life, it seems. Diaries, if you will. I have tried to journal online, but it’s not the same. Writing down entries in my journal suits me, it seems more personal maybe. Or it’s just one more excuse to use a nice pen. (I admit to being a pen addict.) 

The Science of Handwriting and Your Brain 

However, these are just my reasons for using cursive handwriting. From some news stories I’ve collected over the years, it appears that there are some scientific reasons to use cursive handwriting, too.

For instance, from the Neuroscience section of The Guardian, an interesting article discussing how cursive handwriting may have an impact on how we learn – including how we read and assimilate information.

And in Mental Floss, coverage of the trend to return handwriting back to the classroom, after Common Core removed any kind of handwriting instruction (print or script) from schools. Why? Cursive handwriting helps you learn as it connects your motor skills (what your hand is doing) with your mental thought processes (what you’re thinking) in ways that typing does not.

More discussion on the connection between cursive handwriting and cognitive abilities in the following articles:

Why Writing by Hand Could Make You Smarter,” by William R. Klemm, Ph.D., published in Psychology Today;

How Handwriting Trains the Brain: Forming Letters Is Key to Learning, Memory, Ideas,” by Gwendolyn Bounds, published by the Wall Street Journal; and

What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades,” by Maria Konnikova, published in the New York Times.

How to Write in Cursive Handwriting 

Wanna try it?  If you didn’t learn cursive in school, or if you are very rusty, then surf around for online instruction. For instance, there are some nice practice worksheets provided online at HandwritingWorksheets.

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