Handwritten or typed?

Word processors, and now artificial intelligence (AI), have definitively changed our relationship with the written word. No one imagines taking notes by hand any more, because on the computer, everything goes so much faster. But what if, when it comes to learning, this is a mistake? Is more always better? That's the question posed by David Castello Lopez in this amusing video.

Should we abandon handwriting for good?

Is there still any point in learning to write by hand?  When you know how to type a little on a computer, you quickly realize that it's a lot faster.

For the purposes of this video, I wanted to make sure. So I transcribed the words of the Marseillaise from memory, first on the computer and then by hand. Well, when I did it by hand, by the end I couldn't feel my fingers, but more importantly, I was 70% slower than when I did it on the computer. In these conditions, I ended up wondering whether we shouldn't simply abolish handwriting at school. But then, would that be a good idea? Let's find out!

Well, no, it wouldn't be a good idea, for one main reason: taking notes by hand makes it easier to remember what you're writing down. In 2014, Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer, psychology researchers at American universities, conducted an experiment. They asked lots of students to watch 15-minute Ted videos while taking notes, either on a computer or by hand. They looked at the notes that had been taken and then, half an hour later, asked the students about the content of the videos. Results: those who took notes on the computer took twice as many as those who took notes by hand.Normal, it goes faster. But they also performed much less well, on average, on the comprehension test. Why is that? Well, precisely because when you're writing by hand, you're slower, so you have to find ways of summarizing what's being said. And to summarize what's being said, you have to understand. Those who wrote on a computer copied whole passages from the lectures, but didn't really understand what they were typing. 

Other studies, carried out in France and Germany, have also shown that children who learn to write letters by hand retain them better than those who learn on a keyboard, because the memory of the gesture required to form the letters is imprinted in them. So don't throw away your pens just yet!

A video from the Arte Channel

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