Gail's Blog

Think Cursively on Paper

Don’t be pushed by your problems; be led by your dreams.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Over the years I have used this mantra with my clients.  Think on paper.  Get out of your head andbigstock--152254160 write it down.  There are very good reasons for this but they are not what you imagine them to be.  The other part of my philosophy is to use your fingers to write it, not the keyboard of your computer.  Number one, we get out of our heads and get clarity and number two, when we use our fingers to hold the pen or pencil, we form a mudra with the connecting fingers.  This wires a certain part of the brain and helps one to remember it better as if you seeded a portion of your brain.  Yogis have been known to sandpaper their finger tips for an even better connection.  First you have desire, then you have manifestation.  The writing down of your desire is a clear, present manifestation of your desire.  You never use a keyboard for this.

Now science is coming out with with information on cursive writing which requires using a pen or pencil not a keyboard. As much as we have come to value the speed of typing for its easy copy and send, neatness and forming words by hand as opposed to a keyboard, cursive writing  is associated with improved long-term retention, better thought organization and increased ability to generate ideas.  The physicality of shaping letters cements concepts in the mind.  It takes more effort of the brain and leaves a much deeper imprint on the mind than typing.  This is important when learning new things and when trying to sort out your plans and goals.

The online magazine, Quartz, states that a side benefit of cursive writing is it forces us to make choices.  Researchers from Princeton found that students who took notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions than students who took longhand notes.  When you write cursively, you are forced to choose which pieces of information are more important.  This is better than writing things verbatim.  We pay more attention.  We cannot write down everything the instructor is saying so we pick and choose carefully.

The above article from Quartz goes on to report that the researchers show that the myth of the computer era not needing handwriting is flawed.  What they found out is that children until about grade six were writing more words, writing faster and expressing more ideas if they could use handwriting both printing and cursive.   Forming words by hand rather than keyboard increased brain activity.  Adults and children both improved learning retention, had better thought organization and increased their ability to generate ideas by using handwriting.

Fortunately, cursive writing is making a comeback in the United States.  Scientific studies have proven their cognitive utility.  Starting this fall Louisiana, third grade to 12th graders will again study penmanship.  14 states in total are now including cursive in the curricula after 10 years where it seemed doomed.  Parents were complaining that high school students hired for summer jobs couldn’t read old handwritten land-transfer documents.  Old records, when scanned into computers still contain cursive copy.  I know that even birthday cards to my grandchildren must be in print as they can’t read cursive.

The brain, hand connection is very real and is important to maintain that connection when forming your ideas and making choices.  We know that the blind read through their finger tips.  The fingertips remain a strong connector to memory.  When I have a client on the phone and we are doing a session, if they are using a computer keyboard when I am speaking, I always suggest they stop as I know they cannot process what is being said.

So go ahead and trot out your pen and notepad at those meetings or workshops and put away your laptops.  Efficiency is costing you with a diminished amount of what you are learning.  Many famous writers write first in long hand and then transfer their work to the computer.  The key words are “think on paper” not on the computer.




9 responses to “Think Cursively on Paper”

  1. Gail Minogue says:

    Hi Karen, We’ll probably find out that over time, many of the “old” ways we did things had deep, important reasons for doing it a certain way. We are still experimenting in the area of delivering education to our children. We forget about the energy exchange.

  2. Gail Minogue says:

    Interesting point. Thanks for commenting Vera.

  3. Gail Minogue says:

    I don’t see why not. You are not working with a keyboard. The key is the connection of the fingers to the writing instrument. It has also to do with how we shape letters and how we put them together. No cheating by using the keyboard.

  4. jonas sundsten says:

    Hi Gail,
    Idea…do you think writing direct with pencil on an ipad the same as writing on paper?

  5. Karen says:

    Very happy to hear they have evidence to support why cursive writing is necessary, and are starting to implement it again. Many of the reasons you stated were my immediate response when I heard they stopped teaching it. I was stunned that educators thought that was a good idea. Reminds me of when my daughter was growing up and 99% of shoes had Velcro and clocks were turning digital. I still made her learn how to tie her shoes and read a clock. Time has proven that both those skills are still valuable.

  6. Debbie says:

    Thank You, for this & I couldn’t agree more. I basically, HAVE to write everything down, it’s how I learned to learn. I’ve never taken notes on a laptop.
    I’m sending this to my daughter, that just moved from Fl., to LA for grad school at USC. !
    Thanks, so much for this timely article !

  7. Judith says:

    I always take hand written notes at meetings, classes, seminars and even my readings with you, Gail! I feel much more connected to the material! Great post!

  8. Elaine Sonne says:

    Great article. I always said journaling – handwriting your thoughts – was magical. It makes an invisible idea become visible.

  9. Dear Gail – growing up in Germany, we not only learnt cursive writing, but also the “Old German Style” writing and reading, allowing me to read old prints till today..
    But one thing truly blew my mind when we moved to the US – the cursive writing in Germany/Europe did develop/change over time, creating a more modernized cursive style, whereas in the US it seems to have never done that and is still stuck in the 19th century!
    Somehow it feels like, while cursive writing was/is simply a part of the European society, in the US it is the symbol of and associated to an “old culture” people came from when they emigrated, and it one of the things they hold on to – unchangingly so – as proof of that European connection. Quite interesting…

    Much Love!

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