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The Benefits of Physical Writing in 2023

Despite the influx of technology in the modern classroom, there is still a place for physical writing due to the many associated benefits.
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Prior to each academic year, parents find themselves in possession of a list of items that they are required to purchase for their children. Pencils, rubbers, and the many textbooks which were to be covered with contact paper featured prominently until recently, but are now being eclipsed by devices (either provided by the school or brought from home) and other accessories, which are increasingly employed to facilitate arguably richer learning. Depending on the class and school policy—pencils and textbooks may not even feature as mandatory items.

While some see this as progress in preparing learners for an online future, there is still a strong case for physical writing and the role it plays in students’ development.

Technology in the classroom

According to the 2020 OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), Australia ranked third in terms of information and communications technology (ICT) use in the classroom, with more than three-quarters of educators claiming that they allow students to frequently complete tasks using devices. 

The Covid-19 pandemic helped to speed up the shift to widespread technology use, reflecting the fact that proficiency with computers is now a non-negotiable part of operating in the modern world, whether that be as part of employment, interacting with social services, or leisure. The proliferation of EdTech, applications with greater capabilities, and AI tools have also meant that students have the potential to learn in a more effective way.

Benefits of physical writing

So why are we still working with pen and paper at all? Despite the enthusiasm from most quarters surrounding tech as the new classroom essential, there is still a strong argument to be made for making physical writing a priority. 

So, what exactly are the benefits of physical writing? 

  • Improved memory and retention – Writing by hand has been found to enhance memory and retention of information. When students take notes by hand, they are more likely to remember the information and recall it more easily than when they type the notes. 
  • Increased creativity and critical thinking – Pen and paper allow for more free-form expression, which can lead to increased creativity and critical thinking. Students can brainstorm ideas and easily organise them in a way that is most meaningful to them.
  • Enhancing motor skills – This one is especially important for younger students. The physical act of writing helps to develop fine motor skills, improving dexterity and coordination. 
  • Reducing distractions – Any teacher will know that simply starting up 30 computers and getting to work is no mean feat. WiFi connection issues, lack of chargers, notifications, and other distractions can derail a perfectly good lesson. Using pen and paper can help to reduce these distractions, allowing students to focus more on the task at hand.

Getting the mix right—and having the available resources

Technology is fantastic when it is used purposefully. A recent (2021) survey conducted by the Australian Computer Society (ACS) found that specialist computer teachers were lacking, meaning a shortfall in expertise across primary and high school. With every teacher now requiring some kind of knowledge in the use of ICT, all teachers should be allowed time to upskill, ensuring they have the ability to use technology in a meaningful way. 

In the end, like with most things, a balance is key, with pen and paper work complimented by the new developments that modern technologies allow us. No matter your classroom needs in this changing environment, COS has you covered with a huge range of stationery and other resources. To see what solutions we can offer you, contact our Customer Service team on 1300 79 27 85 or email

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