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Writing is memorising

Inspiration 10 February 2021

According to a recent IFOP survey, nearly 50% of young people aged between 12 and 25 believe that writing by hand encourages memorisation. 

This survey is supported by numerous studies and international research. Although digital is now an essential part of our everyday lives, a paper and pencil remain valuable allies too!

(Handwritten) notes stay… in our memory

Large group of students writing in notebooks.

On a keyboard a single stroke is required to write a letter. And it’s always the same one, whether you type an A or an M. In contrast, using a pen stimulates numerous areas of the brain. It’s necessary to propel the movements of the hand and to activate all the muscles while “thinking” of the word to be written. This process, divided into several stages, proves to be an excellent stimulus for the memory, as linguist Alain Bentolila explains.

If you need persuading, remember those cheat sheets you prepared just before an exam? The mere act of carefully copying your notes while concentrating on the important elements of the lesson helped you memorise them. Result: Even more reason to use them! So, if you’ve done your lessons on a computer, the best way of revising is still to copy them out by hand.

Writing by hand: our brain says thank you

Moreover, this claim is confirmed by a study conducted by Pam A. Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer, researchers from the Universities of Princeton and California. It highlights “the superiority of the pen over the keyboard when taking notes and memorising. “The reason is simple: when we tap on a keyboard, our brain focuses on the letter and not the content, leading to a word-by-word transcription. In contrast, when we take notes during a meeting or lesson, we encourage our brain to synthesise the key ideas. This analytical effort, combined with the visualisation of the words on the paper, greatly improves memorisation.

As tapping keys requires less motor effort, doing so intensively might even prove negative for our ability to remember. This is highlighted by a Canadian study published in August 2013 following a series of tests on students. From the above to asserting that giving up writing by hand would mean losing a little of our memory there is only one step, which is taken by Michelle Dresbold. (this sentence does not make sense & not sure how to correct it, I would delete and write as follows)  Michelle Dresbold writes in her book  Sex, Lies and HandwritingThe keyboard has superseded the pencil for a large number of reasons. However, the lack of use of the exercise of writing by hand is likely to deplete our cognitive skills. ”

Paper and Digital: complementary uses

An illustration showing how digital and handwritting can be complementary

Can paper coexist with the technological developments we are observing? The young people surveyed who take their notes on their computer find it easier to share them with their classmates (91%) and to safeguard their notes (91%). Moreover, if they could do it more easily, more than 50% would use the digitisation of handwritten writing to safeguard class notes, review them and consult them when and where they want (48%) or to manage their administrative documents (45%).

Today there is no opposition between the two worlds: handwriting versus digital. The young people questioned are aware of the balance to be maintained. Most declare their attachment to handwriting. They know that proficiency in this skill is important for the future. They even identify that memorising information is better because of it. On the other hand, they appreciate the complementarity between the two, the pleasure of writing by hand on the one hand and the power of digital, through the SCRIBZEE application to scan, save, organise and find their notes using handwriting search. It’s the perfect alliance between the written and the digital: write by hand, save your notes, revise wherever, whenever. Class and revision notes are always close at hand thanks to the smartphone.

Paper has a bright future ahead of it. No paper / digital opposition, young people choose the best of both worlds.

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