The comeback of cursive

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PARENTS are not the only ones bemoaning the way so many schools have given up teaching children to write longhand. Researchers are also aware that more than mere pride in penmanship is lost when people can no longer even read, let alone write, cursive script. Not being able to exchange notes with the boss or authenticate signatures, for instance, can hurt a person’s chances of promotion. More importantly—and intriguingly—though, learning to join letters up in a continuous flow across the page improves a child’s ability to retain and understand concepts and inferences in a way that printing those letters (and, a fortiori, typing them on a keyboard) does not. It even allows insights gained in one learning experience to be applied to wholly different situations.

Neurophysiologists in Norway and France, for example, have found that different parts of the brain are stimulated when reading letters learned by writing them on paper, rather than by typing them on a keyboard. The movement and tactile response involved in handwriting leaves a memory trace in the sensorimotor part of the brain, which are retrieved when reading the letters involved. Being essentially the…Continue reading
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