Saturday, May 18, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Fewer Americans can write with pen and paper

Published 27 April 2024
- By Editorial Staff
Handwriting is be associated with improved cognitive brain function and memory.

For several years, an alarming trend has been sweeping the United States: fewer and fewer Americans are able to write by hand, read handwriting, or perform everyday paper tasks. In the shadow of digitalization, there is growing concern that these once-essential skills are being lost.

At a time when digital technology is taking over schools, handwriting is being reintroduced in several US states. Teachers and experts warn that digitization could lead to declining IQs and a widening gap between students with and without access to technology.

A 2021 survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Bic USA Inc. found that 45 percent of Americans have difficulty reading their own handwriting, while a shocking 70 percent say they have difficulty reading notes or reports from colleagues.

In the United States, the digitization of schools has resulted in many students who can barely hold a pencil but are adept at using digital devices. That worries teachers like Tracy Bendish, who says handwriting is in danger of becoming as rare as the landline phone.

– I wish [students] would learn how to write in cursive. But it is like the telephone on the wall. Less and less used and then not there anymore, Bendish said.

IQ scores are dropping

Research from the University of Oregon and Northwestern University has shown that IQ scores have dropped due to technology’s impact on attention span and the ability to think deeply. It’s a sign that critics of digitization say points to a worrying trend in which advances in technology are changing not only the way people learn, but also our cognitive abilities.

Last year, researchers from several universities reported that the country’s IQ scores had dropped significantly as digital technology “shortened attention spans and reduced the need to think deeply”.

Experts have called on governments and school administrators to reintroduce handwriting in schools, noting that sixth-graders have difficulty holding a pencil but can use digital devices with ease.

The digital divide in the United States and other parts of the Western world is becoming increasingly apparent. Students with access to technology have better educational outcomes than those without. This puts low-income and underperforming students at a particular disadvantage, as American University points out.

Several US states, such as California and New York, have chosen to reintroduce handwriting instruction to counteract this negative trend. This is despite the fact that handwriting was removed from the US Common Core curriculum in 2010 on the grounds that it was “too time-consuming”.

Historical documents at risk of being lost

According to Audrey van der Meer, a professor of neuropsychology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, handwriting is associated with increased cognitive brain function and memory. She emphasizes that handwriting activates large parts of the brain.

– It is important to realize that the brain follows the principle of ‘use it or lose it’. When writing by hand, most of the brain is active. This requires the brain to communicate between its active parts which, in turn, puts the brain in a state that helps both children and adults learn more and remember better, says van der Meer.

Just like learning to write, reading takes practice to “stick”. Photo: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

There is also the fear that if handwriting were to disappear altogether, a piece of US history and culture could also be lost, according to the development’s most vocal critics. Historical documents such as diaries and writings, including the US Constitution, risk becoming inaccessible to future generations, warn a number of teachers, principals and professors in the US.

In Sweden, the debate about the impact of digitization on education has also gained momentum. While digital tools can offer some advantages, such as interactivity and accessibility, there is a growing awareness that the balance between digital and analog learning methods can be crucial for students’ success.

TNT is truly independent!

We don’t have a billionaire owner, and our unique reader-funded model keeps us free from political or corporate influence. This means we can fearlessly report the facts and shine a light on the misdeeds of those in power.

Consider a donation to keep our independent journalism running…

Share via