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20140331-IMG_6637Taking time to put pen to paper can actually increase your learning capability, retention and brain development according to many experts and studies on handwriting conducted over the past few years. While many schools are taking cursive requirements out of their curriculum and the majority of us compose our thoughts and work on computers through keyboards, we can’t let the practice and benefits of handwriting fall to the wayside.

“For children, handwriting is extremely important. Not how well they do it, but that they do it and practice it,” said Karin Harman James, an assistant professor in the department of psychological and brain sciences at Indiana University. “Typing does not do the same thing.”

William R. Klemm, D.V.M., Ph.D. agrees. In an article he wrote called “Cursive writing makes kids smarter” published on March 14, 2013 in Memory Medic, Klemm states that in the case of learning cursive writing, the brain develops functional specialization that integrates both sensation, movement control, and thinking. Brain imaging studies reveal that multiple areas of the brain become co-activated during learning of cursive writing of pseudo-letters, as opposed to typing or just visual practice.

He also believes there is spill-over benefit for thinking skills used in reading and writing. To write legible cursive, fine motor control is needed over the fingers. Students have to pay attention and think about what and how they are doing it. They have to practice.

There are also benefits to the physical aspects of the actual act of writing. Julie Deardorff wrote an article in the Tribune newspaper that outlined the benefits of gripping and moving a pen or pencil that reach beyond communication. She stated that emerging research shows that handwriting increases brain activity, hones fine motor skills and can predict a child’s academic success in ways that keyboarding can’t.

According to an article last year by reporter Chris Gayomali in The Wall Street Journal, some physicians claim that the act of writing — which engages your motor skills, memory, and more — is good cognitive exercise for baby boomers who want to keep their minds sharp as they age. And if you’re looking to pick up a new skill, a 2008 study published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience found that adults had an easier time recognizing new characters — like Chinese, math symbols, or music notes — that were written by hand over characters generated by a computer.

“Handwriting aids memory. If you write yourself a list or a note — then lose it — you’re much more likely to remember what you wrote than if you just tried to memorize it,” said Occupational Therapist Katya Feder, an adjunct professor at the University of Ottawa School of Rehabilitation.

According to Feder in the same Tribune article, handwriting proficiency inspires confidence. The more we practice a skill such as handwriting, the stronger the motor pathways become until the skill becomes automatic. Once it’s mastered, children can move on to focus on the subject, rather than worry about how to form letters.

Handwriting engages different brain circuits than keyboarding. The contact, direction and pressure of the pen or pencil send the brain a message. And the repetitive process of handwriting “integrates motor pathways into the brain,” said Feder. When it becomes automatic or learned, “there’s almost a groove in the pathways,” she said. The more children write, the more pathways are laid down.

So now you’ve heard what the experts say…keep writing! And we will keep paving the way for responsible paper production.

References:

Phil Riebel
President, Two Sides North America, Inc.

 

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fsjpegWhen it comes to the sustainability of the Graphic Communications Value Chain, it’s important to separate verifiable facts from opinions and misleading information. Fortunately, Two Sides (www.twosides.us) has the resources that can help.

Two Sides has posted nine new 2-page Fact Sheets related to the sustainability of print and paper. Written in clear, easy-to-understand language and including citations to verifiable sources, these Fact Sheets make it easy to understand that print, paper, and packaging have a great environmental story to tell.

Below you’ll find a quick summary of each of the nine new Fact Sheets, plus a link leading to the fact sheet itself.  Please feel free to share these valuable resources with colleagues, customers, students and local media. You can be part of Two Sides’ efforts to end the harmful practice of “greenwashing” (using inflated, inaccurate, or misleading data to misrepresent environmental performance).  Check out the facts, then click through for the downloadable Fact Sheets:

FACT: “Go Green – Go Paperless” and “Save-a-Tree” claims are misleading and may not meet best practices for environmental marketing.  These marketing messages ignore the highly sustainable nature of print on paper – it comes from a renewable resource, is recyclable and recycled more than any other commodity in the U.S. and has great carbon characteristics. Learn More

FACT: Anti-paper environmental claims are often inaccurate and should be challenged. After research showed that more than half of America’s leading banks, utilities and telecommunications companies are using misleading anti-paper environmental marketing claims, Two Sides began its “myth-busting” campaign. To date, more than 40% of those contacted have eliminated unsubstantiated anti-paper claims from their marketing. Learn More

FACT: E-Media also have environmental impacts. A recent study estimates that developing countries will produce at least twice as much electronic waste (e-waste) as developed countries within the next six to eight years. Uncontrolled toxic emissions can result from the informal recycling practices often used in the developing world; these emissions can include dioxins, furans, and cyanide. Learn More

FACT: The carbon footprint of paper is not as high as you may think. The U.S. forest products industry is a leader in the production of renewable energy, with more than 65% of the on-site energy needed to produce paper products derived from carbon-neutral biomass. Learn More

FACT: Sustainable forest management benefits people and the planet. In addition to replenishing the supply of recycled fiber, the U.S. paper industry’s perpetual use of trees harvested from responsibly managed forests has a host of economic, social and environmental benefits. Learn More

FACT: Paper is one of the most recycled products in the world. In 2012, nearly 51 million tons or 65.1% of the paper used in the United States was recovered for recycling, up 76% since 1990. The industry’s new recovery goal is to exceed 70% by 2020. Learn More

FACT: Most of the energy used to make pulp and paper is renewable. The print and paper industry accounts for only 1% of global carbon dioxide emissions; at a global level, the greenhouse gas emissions from the forest products industry value chain are largely offset by sequestration in forests and forest products. Learn More

FACT: Paper is one of the few truly sustainable products. Paper is made from a natural resource that is renewable, recyclable and compostable; in the United States, paper is recycled more than any other commodity in the municipal solid waste stream, including plastics, glass and metals. Learn More

FACT: Paper supports sustainable forest management. The income U.S. landowners receive for products grown on their land—including wood for papermaking—encourages them to maintain, renew and manage this valuable resource sustainably, instead of converting forestland to non-forest uses. Learn More

Led by sustainable and responsible forestry, paper production and printing, the U.S. Graphic Communications Value Chain is working to ensure that, in a world of scarce resources, print and paper’s unique recyclable and renewable qualities can be enjoyed for generations to come. By sharing these Fact Sheets, you can help Two Sides U.S. and its member companies strengthen the paper, packaging, print, and related industries—and make an important contribution to real environmental sustainability. Find more resources, plus information on how to become a member company, at www.twosides.us.

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Lots of people use paper towels to clean up leaks – but we’ve heard about a way paper is being used to prevent leaks of a much more serious nature.

Earlier this year, several world news outlets shared the news that Russia’s Federal Protective Service (FSO) had budgeted 486,000 rubles – just under $15,000 – for new electric typewriters, along with ribbons and other accessories.  By using typewriters and paper for sensitive or classified communications, the FSO, which is charged with protecting important government personnel including Russia’s president and prime minister, hopes to prevent the kind of electronic document leaks related to the recent WikiLeaks scandal.

The UK’s Telegraph newspaper quoted Nikolai Kovalev, former director of Russia’s Federal Security Service, speaking to Russian newspaper Izvestiya: “From the point of view of security, any means of electronic communication is vulnerable. You can remove any information from a computer. There are means of defense, of course, but there’s no 100 percent guarantee they will work. So from the point of view of preserving secrets, the most primitive methods are preferable: a person’s hand and a pen, or a typewriter.”

In addition to being safe from electronic theft or distribution, typed paper documents are easier to trace to their source. Each individual typewriter has its’ own unique “signature,” due to minute differences in type patterns and mechanical operation. Computer printers don’t exhibit this type of identifiable signature.

News sources including USA Today, The Guardian, Huffington Post and other international media all reported on the story. The New York Post ran the headline, “Russian government goes back in time; will use typewriters to leak-proof sensitive classified documents,” which unfortunately (and unfairly) implies that paper documentation is somehow a thing of the past.

The truth is, electronic document vulnerability is a very real concern. In addition to government intelligence records, proprietary or sensitive business records (including financial records, vendor lists, or client information) can be targeted for theft, as can personal correspondences via email or text. Identity fraud (through appropriation of personal information, such as a credit card number, that has been stored or transmitted electronically) affects thousands of people every day; in 2010, more than 8 million Americans reported being the victims of identity fraud (source: Congressional Research Service report to Congress.)

What’s more, typewriters and paper documentation are still necessary for many specific uses. One recent Wall Street Journal article noted that many states have laws requiring that permanent records, such as death certificates, must be filled out by hand or typed. Funeral homes, government agencies, and even prisons still rely on typewriters to create physical copies (i.e., paper, not virtual) of permanent records. This NBC News story relates how typewriters are becoming increasingly popular among a demographic too young to remember a time before “keystroking” had supplanted “typing” as a necessary skill. As one young student tells reporter Stephanie Gosk, “When you’re sitting at (a typewriter), you almost feel like you can be like Ernest Hemingway or Jack Kerouac.”

Old-school typewriters didn’t need electricity to run. In 1939, author Ernest Hemingway worked on “For Whom the Bell Tolls” outside at his ranch in Sun Valley, Idaho. Source: Google Images

Permanent, secure, and an elegant form of artistic expression –typed documents are still a necessary part of our world, even in this “digital age.” We would love to hear about your experiences with type or typewriters; please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Phil Riebel
President, Two Sides US, Inc.

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This blog appeared in PI World on November 7, 2013 and has been re-posted here with permissions of PIWorld.

There are many debates today about whether technology is helping or hindering learning. Many school administrators want to be the first to adopt new technology because they feel their schools are being judged as inadequate if they don’t keep up with changing resources. But we have to ask the question, “Are they considering all of the options that can help students succeed?” When you consider the negatives of learning from a screen, as well as the cost of purchasing, maintaining and updating electronic devices, is this really the best approach to learning?

Based on a multi-country survey commissioned by Two Sides in September of 2011, we have qualified what we already believed…that many consumers (~70 percent), including 18- to 24-year-olds, prefer reading from paper. In fact, according to a study by O’Hara, K. and A. Sellen in 1997 called A Comparison of Reading Paper and On-line Documents, we may actually learn better from a book, newspaper or printed report than we do using a computer screen.

So why are we pushing so hard to get technology into the classroom?

According to an article in the Chronicle Herald on July 2, 2013, Peter Reiman and Anindito Aditomo of the University of Sydney recently conducted an analysis of the research literature about the impact of technology on student achievement. Their findings were published in the International Guide to Student Achievement (2013). They conclude that most studies show only a moderate academic benefit from technology and that “the effect of computer technology seems to be particularly small in studies that use either large samples or randomized control groups.”

What this tells us is that there are limited benefits to using technology in the classroom…at least in today’s world. Schools need to take a broader approach to improving learning by considering all options of the education process including the basics such as environment, experienced teachers, strong curriculum and all different forms of resources.

In his 2011 book “Focus: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning,” renowned education writer Mike Schmoker demonstrates that schools focusing on three key things (a content-rich curriculum, sound lessons and purposeful reading and writing in every discipline) substantially outperform schools that do not. According to Schmoker, technology is unnecessary when it comes to improving student achievement and too much emphasis on technology can get in the way of the essentials of learning.

Technology can also be a distraction for students and contributes to multi-tasking and disappointing grades and performance. Laptops may actually hinder students’ ability to learn, providing a distraction and even affecting students sitting near their owners, according to a stunning new Canadian report. With laptops and tablet computers pervading the modern classroom, the report suggests that paper and pencil is less distracting overall.

“We really didn’t think the effects would be this huge,” explained McMaster University researcher Faria Sana, who co-authored the study with fellow doctoral student Tina Weston. “Those students who multitasked on their laptops performed significantly worse than the pencil pushers—and surprisingly, the effect even reached to students sitting near the laptop users,” Sana said.

What we are learning is that paper and pencil are very effective ways to learn since these traditional tools are less distracting and easier to rely on in all circumstances.

The real question here is, “Are the schools determining the best ways for their students to study and learn, or are they just another group jumping blindly on the technology bandwagon and perhaps forgetting about the educational value of print and paper?”

We must continue research on this topic and provide examples and resources to help educators and parents understand the key role that paper plays in the classroom…and how it can ultimately lead to better learning and comprehension.

Phil Riebel
President, Two Sides US, Inc.

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vluaepaperIf you’re interested in what research has to say about the value of paper, don’t miss this just-released report from the American Forest & Paper Association.  It provides a terrific review of studies, reports and scholarly articles that show how paper enriches and improves many dimensions of our lives. 

Even as the demographic scale tips toward the new generation of digital natives, paper remains an important and essential component of multichannel communication.

Paper informs, creates a permanent record of milestones in life, provides secure documentation, reaches customers and offers a sustainable communication option that no other medium can match. 

While the coexistence paper and digital communications continues to evolve, the reasons for choosing paper are as strong as ever … paper offers value that just can’t be beat!

You can download Documenting the Value of Paper: Literature Review here.

 

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