- English teacher Beth Pandolpho writes for Edutopia that requiring high school students to keep a hand-written journal, despite their access to computers, can strengthen a variety of skills.
- Pandolpho outlines four reasons for paper journaling: the enduring nature of the book itself, the act of putting pen to paper, the fact that it opens conversations, and the way it can build relationships between student and teacher.
- Journaling provides a time for self-reflection, development of arguments and ideas, and the creation of seeds of narratives that can be later shared on a larger stage in the classroom or online.
In a day when most student work is done on computers, there are still reasons why students should be encouraged to write in journals. Hand-written journals offer students a chance to practice and improve handwriting skills which, despite the ubiquitous nature of computers, still is needed at times for note-taking, filling out forms and other tasks in society. Researchers also say handwriting engages the brain in different ways than using a keyboard does.
The process of writing is also improved by keeping a journal. Students are more likely to write about a topic of importance and relevance to them, and nothing is more relevant than their own lives. Writing, like any other creative effort, improves with practice, and journaling also creates an historical, biographical document that students can carry with them into adulthood.
However, journaling is not only good for students. It is a practice school administrators and teachers should consider as well. According to Psych Central, journaling provides health and emotional benefits to everyone: “The act of writing accesses your left brain, which is analytical and rational. While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to create, intuit and feel. In sum, writing removes mental blocks and allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others and the world around you.”