HIT Piece 3.14.2017

I’m typing this and you’re probably reading it on a mobile device.

One of the things rarely commented on is how reading comprehension—that is understanding and integrating a concept that you have read about into your overall life experience—has changed since the rise of the Internet as well as the rise of mobile phone use.

We often comment on the nature of reading and the nature of where content gets consumed and why, but the comprehension issue is so often assumed in readers that it’s rarely ever brought up.

Outside of teaching circles (and the circles of parents lamenting) the loss of cursive writing—or handwriting—as a practice taught in schools almost never gets the media ink (or digital bytes) that it seems to warrant.

But, I see this in my students that I teach: Increasingly, there is a lack of patience for the skill of writing by hand, carefully making letters that are intelligible to other readers. Usually, when an assignment must be handwritten, I get back sheepish looks with apologies attached about “chicken scratch” and “carpal tunnel.” I also get the same feedback from training groups featuring older adults who push back because I don’t put bullet points on my PowerPoint slides and I leave plenty of room in their training manuals that I design for them to take notes by hand.

Reading and understanding and hand writing are intricately linked in the human mind to learning, retention, memorization, and comprehension.

They are also intimately linked to patience, critical awareness, and deep thought.

We lose a lot by losing the ability or interest in writing by hand because the other option seem faster and “easier.” When we begin to value speed and volume over comprehension and patience we run the risk of valuing end results in spite of the process to get there, and we open the door to more conflicts flaring more brightly and for longer.

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