Whether or not you’re picky, know that tools for the hands are tools for the brain. Handwritten notes are a powerful tool for encrypting embodied cognition and in turn supporting the brain’s capacity for retrieval of information. And secondly, when you take notes by hand, your hands create a robust external memory storage: your notebook.
Taking notes by hand is a win-win, and belongs in every student’s cognitive tool kit. Learning how to take notes by hand effectively, and how to ingrain note-taking as a key learning and study tool, can begin as early as grades 3 or 4, but it’s never too late to begin.
We live in a digital age where daily functioning involves digital communication. Automaticity in keyboarding is an important skill too, and the tools and applications for digital communication will continue to evolve and have their place. But keyboarding does not provide the tactile feedback to the brain that contact between pencil or pen and paper does — the key to creating the neurocircuitry in the hand-brain complex.
I’ve tried a couple of times to pivot to digital notes. They have the benefit of speed (I can type faster than I can write), being searchable, sortable, and easily retrievable. But almost as soon as I finish writing the note, I forget it.
When I write out notes by hand, I will often be able to recall the information far into the future without even actually needing the note. There is something about the act of writing, the spacial use of the paper, the formation of letters, etc. that just set the information into my brain. It’s not efficient, but it works better for me.