Today in class, after you deliver your group presentations, we will examine The New York Times‘ article “The Case for Writing Longhand,” which may serve as a starting point for your final essay and annotated bibliography. (Other subjects for that assignment include limiting screen time, blogging in the classroom, and the authors whose writing we’ve studied.) Whatever subjects you choose, I ask that you continue to reflect on the the habits you have cultivated this semester, including drafting longhand and limiting your screen time. This blog post addresses the reasons that I’ve asked you to engage in those practices.
One practical reason for writing longhand: What we mark through remains on the page. Sometimes what we cross out can be useful later on, elsewhere in our writing. More importantly, research in cognitive neuroscience indicates that writing longhand has these benefits:
- We remember more when we write notes by hand.
- Writing cursive activates areas of the brain that remain dormant when we type.
Simply put, writing longhand sharpens our minds in ways that typing doesn’t.
Limiting Screen Time
When we use our phones and laptops, it’s difficult for us to give our undivided attention to one endeavor, but often that singular focus is critical.
When we type on our phones, we often aim to convey as much as we can with as few characters as possible. Texting and emailing–both of which now feature predictive text–do not foster the vital skills of developing our writing and producing original thought.
Limiting our screen time not only helps us improve our writing skills, it can also benefit our overall well-being.
- The blue light of screens disrupts our circadian rhythms more than other light does, making it harder for us to sleep.
- Studies in cognitive psychology demonstrate a correlation between screen time and both anxiety and depression.
The research cited in the links that I’ve included isn’t definitive, but it makes a strong case for the value of limiting our screen time and putting pen to paper. I encourage you to continue these practices after the semester ends.