‘To write is to learn’

Every Cleveland Browns player has a tablet computer — and a pad of paper. Coach Mike Pettine believes tells players writing by hand will improve their chances of learning complex plays, reports Kevin Clark in the Wall Street Journal.

As a high-school coach in Pennsylvania from 1995 to 2001, Pettine learned “how to get students to study — whether for a pivotal third down or a geology quiz,” Clark writes.

“I would talk to teachers all the time and they would say, ‘To write is to learn,'” Pettine said. “When you write stuff down, you have a much higher chance of it getting imprinted on your brain.”

A study titled The Pen is Mightier Than the Keyboard backs the idea that students learn more when they write in longhand rather than taking notes on a laptop.

The study found that, because the hand can’t possibly keep up with the speaker’s words, the writer must rephrase what was said in his or her own words, which in turn processes the information at a deeper level.

Browns defensive lineman Desmond Bryant, who went to Harvard, believes handwriting is better than typing. “You are actively using your brain more,” Bryant said.

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  1. Michael E. Lopez says:

    Every intelligent person of my acquaintance over the age of 30 knows this. It’s routine in both law and academia to take notes during presentations and the like for the sole purpose of having taken them; they are often thrown away the moment the presentation is finished.

    And many of the younger people I know are aware of this as well. It’s such a fundamental principle of studying that I sometimes forget about it. I suppose it’s useful to have a reminder every now and then, especially since some of the younger ones have fallen into the terrible habit of practicing the ancient art of dictation — and some of *them* are now teachers.

  2. Vince Lombardi had the Packers copy all the plays as he diagrammed them on the chalkboard. Players that were cut were informed to go see Coach and bring their playbook. At the end of the season, all players had to turn their playbooks in. When the new season training camp opened, everybody, Ray Nitschke, Bart Starr, or Travis Williams alike, had to start copying the plays all over again.

  3. Richard Aubrey says:

    In HS, French and Chemistry, my father said I should write out, ten times, each vocab and each quantity–quantum numbers I think. I started it and got my A on each quiz. Helped a lot. Thing is, as a matter of brain sweat, you just write the stuff out. You’re not grinding the page with your eyeballs, moving your lips trying to remember stuff. Just get the hand moving and…you’re done before you know it.
    Got to be a reason besides simple repetition or time on task. The latter isn’t so much, ten times ten vocab words, for example.

  4. My college study method was to take extensive notes (had to be handwritten, in that era) and to go over the notes as soon as possible after class and add/amend as necessary to make sure I had everything. It wasn’t uncommon for me to have 12-15 pages of notes for one 3-hour class. As the exam approached, I serially condensed all material from class notes and readings into progressively more-condensed versions (while also working extra to memorize the necessary parts) , so that by a couple of days prior to the exam, I would have only a few index cards. Even though I was double-majoring (one a practice discipline with 15-25 weekly hours in practicums) , to the tune of 18-21 credits a semester, my grades proved that the method worked. I knew many other strong students who did the same.