Should children learn handwriting in this digital world? | 028


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About this episode

In Episode 28 of the “Future Learners” podcast titled, “Should children learn handwriting in this digital world?“, Brett and Ellen discuss whether children should learn handwriting in today’s digital world. They explore the cognitive benefits of handwriting, the impact of handwriting on learning and memory, and whether cursive writing should still be taught.

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Key Points:

  • Importance of Handwriting:
    • Handwriting as a form of communication and its cognitive benefits.
    • Studies show that handwriting helps retain information better than typing.
    • Handwriting activates unique neural circuits in the brain, aiding in learning.
  • Cursive Writing Debate:
    • Finland’s approach: stopped teaching cursive writing in 2016.
    • Discussion on whether cursive writing should still be taught.
    • Benefits and challenges of cursive writing for different children.
  • Cognitive Benefits:
    • Comparison to learning a musical instrument in terms of brain activity.
    • Handwriting helps with letter recognition and slows down the learning process, making it more effective.
  • Personal Experiences and Teaching Strategies:
    • Ellen shares personal experiences and strategies for teaching handwriting to her children.
    • Creating a positive environment for handwriting practice.
  • Spelling and Grammar:
    • Debate on the correlation between handwriting and spelling skills.
    • The impact of digital tools on spelling and grammar proficiency.
  • Future of Handwriting:
    • Discussion on the potential future of handwriting in education.
    • Importance of communication skills and how handwriting plays a role.

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Brett Campbell (00:00)
Hello and welcome to another episode of Future Learners. I am your host, Brett Campbell, Chairman and CEO of Euka Future Learning. As always, if you can guess it already, I’m joined by my amazing co-host, the founder and head of education, Ellen Brown. How are you, Ellen?

Ellen Brown (00:17)
Great, thanks, Brett.

Brett Campbell (00:19)
Excellent. When you sent me today’s topic, it was an interesting one. It actually took me back a very long way. Because this is a topic I’m really actually interested in talking to you about it because I’ve had a number of iterations and difference of perspectives over the years. So with that being said, before we do get into the episode, thank you so much to everyone who…

has subscribed to us, whether you’re listening on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, you name it. And again, 23 extra points to those who have dropped a five-star review. We appreciate your review. And 53 bonus points if you have sent an episode to a friend or family member of yours that you think would also benefit from listening to Future Learners. So, Ellen, how about you set us up? What are we gonna be talking about today?

Ellen Brown (01:13)
We’re going to be talking about a bit of a controversial topic actually. It’s handwriting. So something that we’ve all done and been through at school and we have the very differing opinions now, I think, and people are starting to question, you know, is handwriting something that we really need to spend as much time focusing on as we used to?

Brett Campbell (01:34)
It’s interesting because you can look at everything like that. I’ve said this the other week. I was like, do we even need to learn maths now? Because you can ask your computer, it used to be you could use your calculator. Now you can literally ask your AI integrated pocket pal, hey, what’s 5,000 times 653 divided by two? And they’re like, bang, the answer’s there. So it’s a very interesting one, but I think handwriting,

you know is is a very unique specific case because handwriting itself is a form of communication and communications used everywhere all the time so let’s dig into that where where we’re gonna launch handwriting

Ellen Brown (02:17)
Yes, well, look, I’ve got to say, I’ve been doing a bit of soul searching myself on this one. I had a parent this week who reached out and said, you know, we need extra handwriting sheets. My child’s having a bit of trouble with cursive and I want to give him extra. And that’s when I began to think to myself, you know, okay, so I wonder about the benefits, you know, of handwriting. I guess it’s about starting from the beginning. I guess, you know, we can talk about the benefits and what we actually now know. And…

And that’s what I had to do. I actually had to go and do a bit of research and think, well, you know, my gut reaction is we use it seldom. So it’s really important, I think, when you when time’s going by that you actually stop and reflect on what you’re doing. You don’t just do something because you’ve always done it and you take that time out to say, OK, but why do we do it? And that’s been a really great journey. I’ve really enjoyed finding out a bit more about handwriting and and how that works for us.

Brett Campbell (03:12)
handwriting’s enough, like one of again, many, many topics that as we progress in the digital age, there’s many, many things becoming obsolete and we need to run the, what I call the risk reward ratio over this certain thing and go like, is the reward for us to do handwriting, can continue to handwriting going to far outweigh the risk of us letting it sort of become a byproduct of what has been or does…

handwriting only ever become like something that is like an ancient way of doing something. But when you do hand right now, there’s far more meaning attached to it because it’s not used as much, et cetera. So it’s a very, very interesting one. And when you said we’re gonna be talking about handwriting, I’ve got…

And I’m looking forward to sort of breaking out my thoughts in this episode too, because I think I might have some conflicting thoughts about it and I’m not sure where I’m really going to land. So, so let’s, let’s see how we go.

Ellen Brown (04:17)
So look, the first thing I would say is something that I thought was really interesting that we can jump off with. Finland is considered, you know, the epitome of fantastic forward thinking education. They obviously still teach handwriting, but they don’t teach cursive writing. So they stopped teaching cursive writing in 2016. So printing they’ll do, but they won’t get onto this next stage of cursive writing. And that made me really…

Brett Campbell (04:42)
Can you break down, can you break down cursive writing please? Like what is cursive writing for those who are like, what do you mean cursive writing?

Ellen Brown (04:49)
Well, it’s running writing. If you call it running writing or cursive writing, it’s where all the letters are joined together. It’s supposed to be beautiful and it’s supposed to be fast. But for many people, it’s not beautiful or fast. And actually, it’s quite frustrating. And we start doing this cursive writing around grade three. Grade four is where it really begins at a time where kids have got that good.

Brett Campbell (04:56)


Ellen Brown (05:17)
recognition of letters and words and things that pass that part and then we throw in this cursive writing and it’s a curse for many kids. So that was something I found really interesting about the way Finland attacks handwriting.

Brett Campbell (05:25)

And here’s where the dichotomy arrives because they’re removing cursive writing. So you’ve got to go, I wonder why they’re removing cursive writing. But then we look at this and, you know, and a little bit of digging around myself is, and I’ll read this because often when you hear studies show this or there’s a study that proves this. Now that can be true, but it’s also going, well, if that is true,

What again is the risk reward of removing cursive writing? So I’ll share this for a second. It all makes sense. So again, there’s actually more studies than I thought that there were as it pertains to the benefit of handwriting, right? Which is when you go down a rabbit hole, you sometimes go down a rabbit hole. And this one was actually published on careforkids .com .au if you wanted to go and check it out. But it says studies have found that students who use a keyboard are less likely to remember notes.

they are taking than if written by hand. Handwriting notes appear to help students retain information better. Why? The specific pen strokes slow down the process and add visual identification to the information, meaning you’re more actively focused. Now that makes sense. Psychologist Stanislas from the College de France in Paris explains, when we write, a unique neural circuit is automatically activated.

There is a core recognition of the gesture in the written word, a sort of recognition by mental stimulation in the brain. And it seems that your circuit is contributing in unique ways we didn’t realize. Learning is made easier. And then this is the point that I wanna make around cursive writing. And I don’t know if Finland’s seen this study yet, but it says from neurologist William Clem believes that the engagement is compounded. So the learning is compounded.

when you actually use cursive writing. So cursive writing compared to printing is even more beneficial because the movement tasks are more demanding, the letters are less stereotypical, and the visual recognition requirements create a broader repertoire of letter representation. Now, so you got Finland saying, I don’t want to use, we’re not using cursive anymore. And you’ve got some studies showing, well,

cursive can actually link your brain to better outcomes and da di da di da. So it’s like, where do we, where do you go? How do you, how do you take that?

Ellen Brown (07:54)
You know, yeah, in the studies that I was able to look at and the research that I did, that was the only one I found that talked about cursive in that way. And I would have to believe that it would depend on the child because if the child is struggling with the act of cursive writing, they’re not retaining the information they’re writing about. So it’s going to have to talk, it would have to come down to the degree of.

you know, ability of the child to also student in general. But one thing that I really love from from one of those studies was the link between handwriting and learning is similar to the link between learning to play a musical instrument and learning that you’re using the same parts of the brain. And we’ve all we’ve always known and there’s been lots of studies about people who play music are often people who also pick up and connect new.

new information together and handwriting does exactly the same thing for the brain. Interestingly typing didn’t do that and I thought wow you know that was to me like you know there’s lots of different for’s and against for handwriting and cursive writing but that I thought was a really it made a lot of sense to me that if you’re using the brain and in that kind of almost like a gymnastics way when you’re handwriting that’s that’s a big plus because

you know, it’s easy to start going, well, is it only so we can write the note that I need to get some milk at the shop? Why do we handwrite? You know, so that’s good.

Brett Campbell (09:19)
Yeah. Well, it’s interesting because my, when I was at school, I remember, and I, and when this is sort of a memory that triggered straight away, when you said, we want to talk about handwriting at the start of every school year, I’d have a brand new, like a one before clean polished book, right? Beautiful. And I was like, this year is the year that I’m going to write so clean. I’m going to keep my books nice. I’m going to, my handwriting is going to improve.

And I’ll tell you what, the first three pages look great and you could just see, you could just see my brain fading off and then it becomes scribbles throughout the rest of the year. So what I found was when I was learning Cursive, I was so captured on trying to do it properly and make it look beautiful that I wasn’t even really paying attention to the thing that I was trying to learn. My connection to it was, and this was not, I mean, this was when I was.

what maybe six, seven, eight, et cetera. Right. and then as I got a little bit older, the, you know, then you go into different styles of cursive writing, but it was for me, the, the outcome that they were trying to, that we were trying to get from that was not the actual outcome I was receiving. Cause it was causing me more pain and stress and annoyance that I’d be like, my handwriting is terrible. I can’t do it. Cause I had a mate who had the most beautiful curse of writing and all I want to do is try and copy his handwriting and he was left handed. I was like, maybe it’s cause I’m not left handed.

You know, then I’m trying to practice with my left hand. I’m like, so again, it’s, I think you’re very right when it says it’s very dependent on the child and you know, their ability to be able to one, have the patience to be at, cause cursive writing, like, I don’t know, again, italic writing or I’m not sure what it’s really called if it’s italics or you’re, we use the italic pen and there’s a specific way of how you can write. It looks beautiful.

I mean, that’s an art in itself, right? It’s literally a skill that you need to learn that takes time and effort and energy. And handwriting is something that takes time, effort and energy, right? And because we’ve been, what I’ve found the link between handwriting is, especially in this day and age, as we sort of sit here now recording this is,

we retain information so quickly, we can’t put it down on our paper as fast as we want to to move on to the next thing, that we become scribbled by nature and we’re putting down half utilization of what we’re putting down and we’ll go back to our notes at the end of something and go, what did I even write there? So I think there’s times and places for handwriting.

Which I want to jump into as well, but let’s bring it back to how this yes I guess can and could affect our children If they were to live in a world where there was no such thing as handwriting paper was no longer existence But what what what does that look like? What’s what’s your thoughts or? theories around that

Ellen Brown (12:23)
it seems to be there is there really is a difference between obviously handwriting printing and writing cursive and to say we don’t need handwriting at all is probably going way too far in one direction because we can see the benefits we can see the cognitive benefits in in those neural links that we’ve talked about just like learning to play music the other thing is when kids are learning to do handwriting right in the beginning

they’re also learning letter recognition. So they’re learning what does an A look like and what does a B look like? And slowing that process down really does help them to understand the actual shape of the letters. So that’s a really important thing to do. So to say, okay, we don’t need it at all would be obviously way too far. But the…

Brett Campbell (13:12)
Why? Let me challenge that though. So why would it be way too far? Like what?

Ellen Brown (13:16)
Well, because, well, I think, well, obviously you’re missing out on those opportunities for letter recognition for kids when they’re just learning to read and when they’re learning to read, writing down is a really good way of them being active in that process. If you’re just learning to read and to type, it’s got that, you know, the studies have proven that you’re using a different part of your brain. So you’re not as engaged. And even for myself, if I’m writing notes in a lecture,

Even if I never read those notes, which is quite often the case, but I’ll be writing the notes. I’m taking that in in a different way than if I’m just typing them. It’s almost like you would be keeping it. And maybe it’s everybody’s different, but what they’re saying is when you’re slowing that process down and you’re listening to what someone’s saying and you’re writing it down, that the understanding is…

is more pronounced because of the speed that it takes for your brain to be doing those two different things. So I think…

Brett Campbell (14:14)
And we talked about this in the, in a previous episode about learning how you can learn faster and retain more information. I mean, it definitely goes without saying that the more modalities and senses that you utilize, like if you were to write a letter P, you’re just, you know, just visualize the letter P. But if you had to visualize the letter P, write the letter P, and then also say P as you’re writing it, and then say P to someone else and teach them that like the embedded embedding knowledge from, from.

utilizing all of those modalities is obviously absolutely powerful, right? And it makes sense. So if we’re following that theory though, for a minute, and again, I want to try and play devil’s advocate here is, okay, so we teach children how to print your handwriting so that they can learn letters and so forth faster. But then at what age does it become redundant? Like, you know, kids are all learning on laptops and iPads at school now, like,

Where could it or where does it become redundant and does it become redundant?

Ellen Brown (15:17)
Yeah, I don’t believe it becomes redundant. I think there’s a question, certainly a large question mark on cursive. And having been a teacher for many years, that’s probably an odd thing for me to think, but I really can see that cursive causes for most children more stress than anything else. But it doesn’t become redundant because that ability to slow your learning down, to be able to…

Brett Campbell (15:36)

Ellen Brown (15:44)
you know, taking information and to be writing it down is really helpful even in university level. So it really does become an individual thing. There’s a lot of young ones that don’t write at all, you know. And I’m thinking of say one of my sons writing just didn’t handwriting, his handwriting is not great and it takes a lot of effort for him and he learns far better by typing information and reading it. And that is the way he learns better. So like all things in learning,

We can’t just say everybody should do the same thing. And that’s exactly why a lot of people decide to exit that mainstream system where we all have to do the same thing at the same time. I mean, do you realize there’s kids in, I remember kids in grade four and grade five and they want to get a pen license. I don’t know if they had that for you when you were younger, but certainly now in order to be allowed to move from pencil to pen, you have to be able to hand write at a particular level and you get a pen license. And it’s really important to the kids.

Now, some kids just do not have the fine motor skills or the ability or even the patience, the time to be able to write so beautifully and perfectly. And they’re the only one left in the class without a pen license. Like the self -esteem that jolts that happens from something like that where we are all different. Some people just, I loved handwriting. Like I loved it, but I’m an artistic kind of person. So to me, it was an art form.

Brett Campbell (16:59)

Yeah, I couldn’t stand it.

Ellen Brown (17:11)
Whereas, you know, there’s certainly plenty. It’s a means to an end for lots of students. And so I think, yeah, there’s a big question mark there on cursive and just the look really at the end of the day, it does really come down to this personal choice. But I don’t think I think the importance of learning handwriting in the younger years is about fine motor skills. It is about an improvement in spelling and grammar because of the slow process. So there’s some really

important benefits of handwriting in general.

Brett Campbell (17:44)
Yeah. Let’s talk about, cause you said the slow process. I want to share, this is where I benefit greatly with handwriting. I’ll preface it by saying I didn’t like handwriting because my brain was too fast for my writing and I just couldn’t keep my, my hand couldn’t keep up. So I’d skip words and to, cause I, I had trouble slowing my brain down to try and think of each word and then I’d lose my thought. Let’s say, but, this was a technique I actually learned from one of my.

early mentors, probably about 15, 16 years ago, when I was going on self discovery of, you know, Brett Campbell and trying to figure out the world and all of those variables. And, and he taught me this skill, which I’ve now taught to thousands of people, which, you know, when you do it and you actually apply it, it’s, it’s quite transformative. And it’s called left hand, right hand writing. And it’s the ability to basically self coach yourself and the ability to tap into, you know, your, your.

slowed down version of your brain so you can actually get the answers that you’re looking for, which is very, very powerful. And I’ll just talk about it high level here without going into the in -depth, but you’ll get the framework of it. So you’d literally, you’d have a full page, you draw a line down the center of the page and on the right hand side of the page in the right hand column,

you would write a question with your right hand or the hand that you are best, you best utilize. So if you’re right handed, you’d use right. So I’d write down a question. Let’s say I wanted to know, like I was stuck and I was like, should I go to the gym today? Let’s just say it was that. And I didn’t know if I wanted to go to the gym today. And I’m like, you know what, what do I really want? And then I would write down, I’ll go, do I want to go to the gym today? And then I put the pen pen in my left hand and I’d have to go to the left column.

And my odd right, the answer with my left hand and you know, if you’ve never written with your left hand, it’s slow and it’s, it’s forcing you to truly slow down. And it’s a, it’s a very, if you, if it’s the first time you’ve ever done, it’s quite a painful exercise. If you don’t have the, the wherewithal to push through it, but you’d answer the question and it’d be like, I don’t know. I can’t really be bothered. And then on your right hand, you go, why can’t you be bothered? well.

I got up at 4 a today and you try and keep your answers short because you know you’re riding with your left hand. You’re like, but over time and as you start having this dialogue with yourself, your left hand will actually end up prompting the real reason or it might go, get off your butt, lazy, get to the gym, Brett. And I’m like, it slowed my brain down, allowed me time to have that conversation and seek an answer that…

I knew was sort of sitting under all the excuses or this or that. but it’s a, the premise there is that could never be done on a typewriter. That could never be done on a computer. It has to be done with the engagement of your body. Right. So, that’s a, that’s a really powerful, exercise that, yeah, can help in many, many, many ways in itself. So I definitely am an advocate of handwriting to a degree. and you’ve, you’ve, it’s an interesting one of.

Yeah. Is it, you just use it in the early years to teach, but then you’re like, well, Hey, here’s a computer. Welcome to a computer. You’ve learned how you’ve learned letters. Yeah. But the question then that Ellen that I’ll have is what if a child though never did handwriting? I mean, I’d love to see some studies on that. If, if students who never even had a pen and paper, but they’ve learned how to spell through digital activities or looking at videos or they participated in some way, shape or form, like with, with.

Yeah, I mean, or even on the keyboard. It’s just a different way of learning, right?

Ellen Brown (21:30)
Yeah, it does make me laugh and I kind of wonder whether like 20 years from now somebody will watch this and it’s like people who are saying you shouldn’t watch television or you shouldn’t listen to the radio because you know, so I you know things will probably change. That’s right, so things will probably change a lot and it’s hard to know what the future holds and I guess you know education will continue to change as it is and we’ve seen that in in Finland as well but when I went in I thought okay.

Brett Campbell (21:41)
Yeah, don’t listen to podcasts.

Ellen Brown (21:59)
What are people saying about why we shouldn’t do handwriting and where are the negatives that are coming in from that? And really what it came down to and what they kept saying is the time used to spend on handwriting could be spent on other things. That was kind of, it really came down to time and money, which I thought was kind of a funny, a funny reason, you know, to be against something. But I think, you know, to say the time that you’re using to be handwriting could be used on.

skills that are more useful like touch typing, which interestingly isn’t in the curriculum. Don’t you think that odd? Like I think touch typing is something that you think kids would be really benefiting from if we’re going to make them sit there with their lined paper and get their letters just the right height and just the right, you know, you’d think that touch typing would be something that we’d say, right, everyone in third grade needs to learn that. So, but when it comes down to saying, well, that’s the negatives, it really can’t say the negatives outlay that.

outweigh the positives. There’s too many positives in the learning to write process. It’s just like saying, you know, should you do yoga and be flexible? Well, of course, you’re going to be more healthy. Should you do handwriting? Well, of course, your brain is going to be more functional, you’re going to be able to process information in a better way, and it’s good for you. So in that way, I don’t think there’s much of a conversation, it’s really comes down to how much effort and time that you put in and when is good enough, good enough.

Brett Campbell (23:01)
Yeah. Yeah.

Ellen Brown (23:26)
for your child, I suppose.

Brett Campbell (23:28)
I think it’d be really interesting to run a survey and let’s run one right now to you, the listener as well as, as the parent and with your current understanding and try and, try and extract everything that we’ve said and put it to the side for a minute and just go into this as if you hadn’t listened to this episode so far. What would your answer be if I said, do you think handwriting is useful? I reckon most people would say no. I’d say no, not really, not in this day and age. So then people are making a decision.

based off how it fits them right now in their life because they’re like, well, I haven’t written in a book in years, but that’s not what we’re talking about. And I think this is the, this is the distinct where I back handwriting and think it’s still fundamentally something that every child should, should partake in. because it was decades ago when I was handwriting, but I don’t, I don’t remember the exact.

impact that that had on me, but I’m assuming it had a lot of impact because if you look at learning and you study learning and you, to your point, you study how people understand vocabulary and even communicate, is learning, handwriting plays a major part in that. So it’s important as a parent, you’re not making decisions going, my kid doesn’t need to do any handwriting because I don’t, or I haven’t done it. They’re not going to use it moving forward. This really isn’t about, are they going to use,

handwriting moving forward. This is about if there was a way where your child can, and again, I’m open to being wrong here when studies come out in 10 years and it says typing is the fastest way to learn anything. I mean, who knows? But the reality is in 10 years, we’re probably not going to have keyboards. It’ll literally, everything will be audio generated and you’ll be talking to your own personal AI admin that every single person will have. Like literally that is where we’re moving towards. And then it’ll,

It’s like a scene on a movie. Someone will be on some spaceship and then they’ll open this book and the dust will come out and go, what is that? It’s called a book. You know, it’s like so archaic in many ways, but it’s, I just definitely think that there’s a home and there’s a place. and it’s important for us as parents to realize that whilst we don’t use handwriting right now, like I’ve got a diary here that every so often, sometimes I even wonder why I even scribble notes. Cause it’s like, I do it more so now as a,

Ellen Brown (25:32)
I’m sorry.

Brett Campbell (25:53)
as a placeholder to get something out of my head, not what I used to think I’d write for. Like I went to my first ever seminar and I’m trying to write everything that this person’s saying. And then I got home and I’m trying to read my notes, didn’t understand my notes. And I didn’t understand what the person said because I couldn’t take it in because I was too busy trying to write it down. And it was just like, wow, this is, this has caused too much chaos for me, but there’s, there’s really good use cases of when we should use handwriting. and when we’re maybe it’s debatable whether or not we should or not as well.

Ellen Brown (26:24)
I think I would love to put a parent’s hat on, especially a homeschooling parent’s hat on here as far as the process in handwriting and how that looks in a normal day. And the reason I think about that is because I had three young ones learning to write at the same time. It was so interesting to see how they approached that. And for two of them, it wasn’t a pleasure at all. And for one of them, it was a joy. You know?

Now, what I decided to do is because handwriting is an important skill to know, and I’m talking about printing, I decided to make it something that was done when it was a really, like it was later in the day, so it was a calming time. We’ve had all our wild outside time and going places and doing this, so it’s a calming time. I tried to make it as pleasant as possible by having some nice music on. I even gave them a little snack with it while they’re doing their handwriting. So it was like, handwriting time. And it really changed the whole feeling.

about handwriting, just that atmosphere. It was a real game changer. So if you are struggling with kids that are learning to do handwriting, just change the atmosphere, change the focus, let it be something that is a calming activity rather than this thing that they dread when it comes once a week, you know, in the lessons. That’s been a, that was a real important one for me. And the other thing was,

I exposed them to cursive writing. I said, this is how cursive writing works and have a go at that. So there was the opportunity to try it and one of the three loved it, went forward with it. The other two didn’t love it. And they took some time and decided they preferred to do printing. And we did printing from then on. So that’s my experience of handwriting in our family.

Brett Campbell (28:11)
Yes. I’m yet to have the handwriting. I’ve got the wall drawing. I’ve, I’m experiencing that at the moment. So Aila’s very good. She’s actually pretty good. She doesn’t draw too much on the walls. she did a couple of times and she stopped that, but, we’re at the, we’re at the doing dots and she’ll join the dots and you know, she, she loves spelling her name now so she can spell her name, which is, which is pretty fun. but anyway, in regards to.

Ellen Brown (28:17)
I’m going to go ahead and close the video.

Brett Campbell (28:40)
Any other areas and if we look at the There’s obviously we’ve talked about the The let’s call the growth the learning the education of why it’s important Let’s let’s double tap on a couple other areas that that pop up for me and What you can give me your thoughts on the importance of it spelling is one, okay?

So I don’t know about you, but whenever I do like a whiteboard session now with anyone or with the team and I’m writing on the board, I could almost say that probably 30 % of the words that I’ve got on the board, I’ve spelt them wrong. And as I’m writing, I’m like, this is wrong. This doesn’t feel right. But because spell check and I say Microsoft Word in the early days is, and even now Gmail and all these things.

The fact that it auto corrects your spelling errors, it’s teaching you, it’s enabling you to be a very poor speller. Now, do you see any value?

in having the correct spelling for certain words. And I’ll frame that by saying, I’ve generally been a pretty bad speller because I didn’t, I didn’t really care too much. I was just more about they’ll just put the word down. I know what it means until we started sending like emails, you know, many, many, many years ago. And I’d have all these, you know, in our fitness business back then.

I’d send an email out to like 300 ,000 people and I shit you not, I’m part of my language, but I’d literally get probably 600 people reply back with, Hey, it’s there, not there. It’s this, that like, and they’d give me all their spelling. I’m like, I actually replied back to one of them. I said, Hey, look, appreciate that. feel free to spell check my emails if you want, before I send them out. And like, I’ve got people offering to spell check cause it was really important to them that the word was spelled correctly. Right. When I understand.

but we’re living in a world where we’re not being supported in correcting our spelling or even having the right spelling. What’s your stance on spelling and grammar itself?

Ellen Brown (31:06)
look, we could have another whole episode on spelling. And when it comes to writing, there is a debate that’s put forward to say that, you know, handwriting also helps with spelling because going through that, I would actually beg to differ because I loved handwriting, very good at it. Spelling was not something that, like you said, it came down to value. If you’ve got a teacher in the classroom who makes spelling this thing and, you know, and there’s competitions and games and all that, you’re probably more inclined to jump into spelling.

We didn’t have that. And so I didn’t find spelling to be particularly enjoyable. And like you said, spell check, it’s a little bit like maps too in the car or on your phone. I can follow maps to go somewhere. And if I didn’t have it, I still wouldn’t know how to go there, even if I’ve been there three times, because it just, you know, unconsciously just follow along where it’s telling me to go, you know, and spelling’s a bit the same as that. So I really don’t see that hand, right? I don’t see that there’s a firm correlation between,

Brett Campbell (31:36)


Ellen Brown (32:04)
handwriting and improved spelling. I think you’ve got to have a value for spelling and spelling is a separate skill that needs to be worked on. And I know that we do a lot of work on that in UCAR where it’s all about fun. We’ve got kids with water pistols shooting the letters and all kinds of things to have them learn spelling in a way that actually is engaging and something that they see a value in rather than just writing it down. So.

No, I think there’s some people who will say it’s a correlation. I wouldn’t think so.

Brett Campbell (32:37)
Yeah. And it’s, it’s because you’ve got social media and punctuation, grammar, all of those variables now sort of been thrown out the door. And I think there’s going to be legacy where people who have placed high regard on those things, they’re still going to hold true to it. But, you know, I can see a world where the young generation now it’s just not going to be as relevant.

because they don’t place the importance on the grammar and the, do I use a comma here or do I use this? Do I use that? Like even for myself, like in all honesty, sometimes I’ll read something, I go, well, that didn’t, that doesn’t look right. I need to, you know, maybe there’s a comma there. I know that’s a, that’s a full stop. That’s a sentence. That’s this. And it’s like, and then the way I reconcile things again is, is the time, effort, energy put into this going to be worth the end outcome of what I’m trying to do here? And it’s,

Almost like a cop out in some ways, because I’m like,

I should be putting my best foot forward when I am trying to write or say something. But in the same token, as long as the ultimate message is landed and the person that is receiving that understands it. So for example, with Slack, we use a communications tool internally. And my goodness, Slack does not do autocorrect. So Slack doesn’t do what Apple, what…

Microsoft Word has been doing for decades for me. So when I write a sentence to the team, and I’ll probably send hundreds of messages a day, I honestly do not have the time, well I do, but I don’t give the time to sit in going back through every sentence. Because if I can’t right click on that word and find the word and select it, then I’m not gonna sit there and try and go, okay, what is the actual spelling of this? Because there might be two or three words. And because I’ve typed so fast,

And because I’ve been spelling the word wrong for the last 10 years, but, but Apple, Microsoft’s been fixing it. My brain is now programmed to spell the word like that, which is that’s what, what really got me with, with the Slack situation where I’m like, why is there three red underlined words? And I go back and I go retype it and I spell it wrong again. I’m like, slow my type down. I’m like, my God, my brain is spelling it wrong by default, but I’ve had this support mechanism and let’s call it AI, the early.

early advances of AI with the spell check, it’s actually forced me now to spell so many words wrong. And now I’m at this dichotomy of, my gosh, I’m sending messages to our team and they’ve got wrong spelling in it. But I preface it by saying, hey, my messages will most likely come through with spelling errors because I don’t have the time to sit and spell check everything. As long as it makes sense, then that’s okay. And it’s almost like we’re moving into a world of very different communication.

You know, now, of course, if you’re at university and you’re studying and you’re putting through a paper, then you’ve got to have all the correct denunciations and references and all of that stuff. But it’s an interesting one where we’re moving to, because there’s use cases for it and there’s use cases not for it, which is very, very interesting. It’s going to be even more interesting as AI really starts to come to fruition and what’s coming down the pipeline there, because everything’s going to be voice activated.

It’s going to be an interesting one, Alan. What do we do?

Ellen Brown (36:05)
Yes, it certainly will. But I guess, look, if we’re coming back to handwriting and spelling, for example, or handwriting and grammar, as the kids have learned to do those basic letters and then they’ve learned to do basic words and things like that, you know, it’s quite common for our handwriting to include sentences which have grammar in them and things. And that is, look, it’s a great way of…

really consolidating things that they’re learning in grammar and English as a subject. So it is really good to be able to do that and use it for their spelling words as well. It’s just going to all come down to making sure that, you know, if a child is struggling with their cursive writing and they’re writing their spelling words, you can just absolutely forget that they’re going to learn their spelling words that way. You’re going to have to say to yourself, make some decisions about what’s how you want your child to learn and what works for your child.

I suppose they’re two different things sometimes too.

Brett Campbell (37:04)
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. All right, any final words, Alan, as it relates to the topic of do we still need handwriting?

Ellen Brown (37:13)
I think it’s pretty clear we do need handwriting. I think we’ve got some really good things to hang on to as to why it’s beneficial for our kids. And they’ll ask the question, so get themselves, get yourself ready to be able to answer that. It’s actually like brain gymnastics. It helps your brain to be able to function well and to learn well. So that’s a really good thing. But the one thing I would say is don’t let it be a punishment.

You know, you’re going to have to think about how you present handwriting as a lesson each week and how you encourage kids and whether you as a parent decide to move on to cursive, keep them going on that if they’re struggling or whether you don’t, there’s a choice. And that’s something that’s very unique when you’re homeschooling, you’ve got a choice. So.

Brett Campbell (37:57)
And just to double tap on that quickly is there’s, I believe, and I’ve talked about this at Nausium on lots of episodes, is help your child understand why handwriting is even important and why writing is important and why words are important and how that links back to what I will stand here today and say the most important skill that any person, any human can learn is communication.

and handwriting is one form of it. So if you can really preface to your child that look, handwriting is a part of this entire organism that makes up this, which allows this. So when you’re able to handwrite more, when you can clearly articulate words and this and that, and that means this and et cetera, and you can tie it into an ultimate, a bigger purpose as to why, then it’s a lot easier to do something like, you look at the reward consequence,

situation where it’s like, if you can give someone a reason, like there’s a reward at the end of something to do something, they’re more likely to do it if they believe that the rewards going to outweigh the current, you know, learning or time that they have to put to something. So I’m a big believer in always trying to explain why we’re doing something. Because again, I never, I was never told why I should read a book. And I just, I refuse to read a book because I couldn’t concentrate. Now I can’t read enough books. And I think reading is one of the most special things that anyone can have.

but it was because I had to self identify and fall upon why reading was important. And it took decades and I missed out on 25 years of reading because it really wasn’t framed to me in such a way that I would be able to personally get benefit from it. So with that being said, let us know what your thoughts are as it relates to handwriting. Make sure that you leave a comment below this video or you leave us a.

five star review and give us your comment there as well on iTunes or Spotify. But as always, we appreciate you tuning in and listening in. If you got value from this, please send this episode to someone that you believe will also get benefit from it as well. One final question, Ellen, do we also need algebra? I’ll leave that one. Yeah, I’m still yet to solve that. I’m still yet to solve that one.

Ellen Brown (40:11)
Ha! Let’s talk about it another time!


Brett Campbell (40:20)
We’ll leave it there. Thank you so much and we’ll see you on the next episode. Bye.