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“Pen Is Mightier Than The Keyboard” – Fascinating New Research on the Benefits of Writing with Pen and Paper




 

Thinking of getting your child an iPad?

 

Think again.

 

Keep reading to find out why pen and paper might be the most powerful tool for language learning and how it can help boost your child’s creativity and brain power!

 

A Newspaper Cutting

 

My stepdad is a lifelong reader of The Times newspaper and brings me insightful newspaper cuttings at our family dinner every week.

 

One of these recent cuttings is of great interest to me and, I think, would be to any parents out there too, whether you’re raising your child to be bilingual or if you’re simply interested in the latest research on education.

 


Pen is mightier than the keyboard - Fascinating new insights into the benefit of writing with pen and paper according to the latest research cited by The Times newspaper
Pen is mightier than the keyboard - Fascinating new insights into the benefit of writing with pen and paper according to the latest research cited by The Times newspaper

 

This article is titled, Pen Is Mightier Than The Keyboard, So Give Your Brain a Scribbled Boost.

 

Previously, I’ve written a blog post and created a video revealing the best tool for language learning– and to spoil the surprise for those of you who haven’t read the post or watched the video yet, my argument was that the humble pen and paper may be the most powerful tool that parents can use for teaching their child to learn the target language.




 

So, when my stepdad showed me this article last week, I knew I had to write about it to share the findings of this latest research with you all and to back up my previous argument.

 

Since content on The Times’ website is only available to paying subscribers, let me sum up the key findings from this article, which are primarily based on the latest research by a team of neuropsychologists at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

 

Key Takeaway 1.  Writing With A Pen Fosters Stronger And More Complex Connectivity In The Brain

 

The number one takeaway from this article is this: writing by hand fosters much stronger and more complex connectivity between different regions of the brain than typing on a computer keyboard or using the keypad on a phone or tablet.

 

Here’s a direct quote from Professor Audrey Van der Meer, one of the leading researchers of this study: “Our findings suggest that visual and movement information obtained through precisely controlled hand movements when using a pen contribute extensively to the brain’s connectivity patterns that promote learning.”

 

“Our findings suggest that visual and movement information obtained through precisely controlled hand movements when using a pen contribute extensively to the brain’s connectivity patterns that promote learning.” --- Professor Audrey Van Der Meer, The Norwegian University of Science and Technology

 

She goes on to explain, quote: “This also explains why children who have learnt to write and read on a tablet can have difficulty differentiating between letters that are mirror images of each other, such as ‘b’ and ‘d’… They literally haven’t felt with their bodies what it feels like to produce those letters.”

 

The researcher even goes so far as to urge educators to encourage handwriting from early childhood.

 

Another direct quote from the team: “We urge that children, from an early age, must be exposed to handwriting activities at school to establish the neuronal connectivity patterns that provide the brain with optimal conditions for learning.”


“We urge that children, from an early age, must be exposed to handwriting activities at school to establish the neuronal connectivity patterns that provide the brain with optimal conditions for learning.”

This echoes something I pointed out in my other blog post and video, which I mentioned earlier.

 

In that post and video, I referred to another article from The Times where a highly successful British businesswoman expressed alarm at the introduction of tablets in her children’s very expensive private school from Year 1 (age 6!).

 

This businesswoman said in the interview that she wants her children to learn in the traditional way – to draw, to read, to have the ability to “think deeply”.



An increasingly number of parents want to steer their children away from screens and towards traditional activities such as reading and drawing; screen free parenting
An increasingly number of parents want to steer their children away from screens and towards traditional activities such as reading and drawing

 

This latest study lends further credibility to the idea that traditional learning methods have certain advantages over high-tech methods.

 

Key Takeaway 2: Writing Longhand May Boost Creativity

 

The article also discusses the effect of writing longhand on creativity, citing the examples of novelists Neil Gaiman and Susan Sontag, both of whom extol the virtue of writing longhand.

 


The acclaimed author Neil Gaiman says that writing by hand changed his "head" and transformed his writing routine
The acclaimed author Neil Gaiman says that writing by hand changed his "head" and transformed his writing routine

Neil Gaiman once said in an interview that “writing by hand changed my head”.


"Writing by hand changed my head." -- Neil Gaiman, Novelist

In view of the findings by the Norwegian researchers, it is perhaps no surprise that Gaiman felt this way, as writing by hand genuinely changes the neural connections in your brain!

 

Taking a Deeper Look: Further Research

 

After reading this article from Time Times, I decided to delve a little deeper into the research on this subject.

 

According to a 2005 study by Marieke Longcamp, Marie-Thérèse Zerbato-PoudouJean-Luc Velay, handwriting training in preschool children led to better letter recognition compared to typing. Improved letter recognition can contribute to better reading and writing skills, which are fundamental to creative expression.

 

Another study conducted in 2006 by Virginia Berninger, Robert Abbott and their team of researchers explored the connections the connections between handwriting and language development, highlighting the role of handwriting in the development of reading, writing, and spelling skills. These foundational language skills are crucial for creative expression and communication.

 

What Does This Mean For Bilingual Families?

 

In a previous video, I explored the surprising cognitive and brain benefits that bilingualism can bring, as revealed in a BBC documentary.




 

Being bilingual also enhances neural connections in the brain – and these connections are particularly enhanced in children who become bilingual from a young age, according to a Great Ormond Street Hospital study.

 

Why Are Neural Connections Important?

 

You might be wondering – why are neural connections important?

 

I’m no neuroscientist, but to sum up what I’ve read, neural connections in the brain are essential for:


  • Information processing

  • Learning and memory

  • Cognition

  • Behaviour

  • Brain plasticity

  • Adaptation

  • Brain development

  • Neurological health

 

Neural connections also play a fundamental role in creativity by facilitating the complex cognitive processes involved in generating new ideas, making unique associations, and solving problems in original ways.

 

So, as a parent raising your child to be fluent in more than one language, you are already helping your child strengthen the neural connections in their brain by helping them gain fluency in a second, third or even fourth language.

 

And you can give these neural connections an even bigger boost by harnessing the power of pen and paper learning techniques!

 

In my blog post about using pen and paper as a learning tool, I share my own experience and offer some practical tips and advice – definitely check it out.

 

I hope you found today’s video helpful! Thank you for watching, and see you soon in my next video!

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