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Bringing Writing to Life

Devonshire House Experts’ Talks Series


Bringing Writing to Life

By Anna Rayhaman, Head of  Reception at Devonshire House School

Anna Rayhaman, Head of Reception at Devonshire House School

“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” -Anne Frank


‘’Why is writing so important, I can just use the computer?’

In a modern world where technology is used in nearly every area of our lives; to-do lists are typed on our phones, emails are sent rather than hand-written letters, essays are typed into computers, is there a point to writing anymore? Is it so important for our young people to master the art of writing, in a time where a computer can fix all our grammatical and spelling mistakes, records and translate our speech into text and with the advancements in artificial intelligence, even suggests, organises and structures our ideas for us?

There are very few people who would not instinctively respond to this question with a resounding YES! Of course writing is still important. Regardless of the ease of technology, the freedom and beauty in being able to scribe our thoughts by our own hand, has kept people journaling and keeping hand-written diaries long since the invention of devices. The creativity that flows when physically writing is a unique and treasured process; I like to think of writing as our minds fingerprint, unique only to us and it is no coincidence that the most emotive sentiments of the heart are often expressed in written form rather than print. I have kept many cards written to me over the years from loved-ones, comforted by not only the words written in them, but knowing that a little part of the sender is there on the page forever.

“Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.” –William Faulkner


I believe there is a personal connection between our thoughts and our handwriting, the words seem to hold more meaning somehow and for some, can be a therapeutic process of connecting with ourselves and others: ‘handwriting encourages us to be fully present in the moment. The deliberate strokes of the pen on paper promote mindfulness and help eliminate mental clutter’. I would like to think that the likes of Wordsworth, Keats or any of the poets from the romantic period, would still have chosen a paper and quill, whilst dreaming and weaving poetic prose, rather than typing on a device if they had the choice. Indeed, many modern day authors make this choice when drafting their novels; it is documented that J.K Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter novel by hand. Obviously most of us would not consider ourselves to be masters of the pen, nor do we need to be, to allow writing to breed creativity.Some of the most inspiring training courses I have been on, have not needed any technological bells and whistles, but have used the good old fashioned flip-chart to brainstorm the ideas as they blossom from enthusiastic participants, whilst passionate hosts eagerly scribe their contributions; creativity in complete synchronicity! There are also many benefits of handwriting on learning and recall ‘researchers say that the unique, complex, spatial and tactile information associated with writing by hand on physical paper is likely what leads to improved memory’ . Writing can also improve critical thinking and build strong conceptual understanding. Research from Princeton and University of California showed that ‘because handwriting notes is a slower process, those who handwrite their notes are forced to interpret the information and put it into their own words. As such, students who hand write notes are able to better understand content’. Technology is of course invaluable and it certainly has revolutionised how to learn and communicate, but just as a photograph does not take the place of a painting, print does not replace the artistry of handwriting, there is room for both.

“A word after a word after a word is power.” –Margaret Atwood


I think most would agree that writing is a gift and we want our children to recognise this too, but how often do we demonstrate the value of writing in our everyday lives? We often talk about harbouring a love of reading and our children probably see us sitting with a magazine or physical book fairly often (if, like me, you love getting lost in the pages of a book rather than a kindle) but how often do they see us writing rather than typing? Probably not so much. We need to show them its value in our everyday lives; from the little mundane squiggles and doodles to the more expressive and creative written endeavours. It is why my classroom displays are full of hand written captions and signs rather than neatly printed signs, these have a place too, but if I want my children to be writers, they need to see me being a writer too. They are always watching and learning from us, after all. So, next time you plan to go shopping, write a list on a piece of paper, show your child writing has a purpose in the everyday, maybe they might help you write one, write letters to family members living abroad rather than an email, keep a diary perhaps, write messages and leave them on your fridge; reminders, messages of love or endearment, hide a note in your child’s book bag for them to find, in years to come it might be-come something they treasure. Let your child see you harbour a love of writing, so that they might do the same, you never know where it might lead them!

“You can make anything by writing.” –C.S. Lewis



10 amazing truths about handwriting

Study on brain activity:
Research from Princeton and University of California:

Inspiring quotes about writing :


Why is writing important?

A question for our Reception pupils

It is important because it's how I know the tooth fairy is real, she wrote my brother a note!


It is important because our parents need to write on our permission slips for trips.


It is important because there are no computers in the North Pole.


Writing is important because we can write 'I love you' cards.


I wrote my nanny a Christmas card and she kept it for a long time, so I think she really liked it.


It's important because I can write to my cousin Finley who lives very far away.


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