Sunday, May 2, 2010

Anne Mangen is publishing two new papers of vital import on the ongoing debate about reading, writing and early childhood education

Two articles readers of this blog might find interesting. They will be published shortly, one in an edited book on haptics, titled Advances in Haptics, [Editor: Mehrdad Hosseini Zadeh ... ISBN: 978-953-307-093-3], the other one in the journal Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood. They relate to many of the same issues that Dr Mangen was exploring in her 2008 Journal of Research in Reading article in the UK, albeit within different areas (writing and early childhood education).

Anne Mangen is a professor at the National Centre for Reading Education and Research at the University of Stavanger in Norway and one of the most important thinkers on these matters today.

Her article, co-authored with Jean-Luc Velay, is titled:

Digitizing literacy:
reflections on the haptics of writing

by Anne Mangen* and Jean-Luc Velay**
*The National Centre for Reading Education and Research,
University of Stavanger, Norway
** Mediterranean Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience, CNRS, Université de la
Méditerranée, Marseille, France

"How utterly bound to the physical world of bodies is writing,
one of the most awesome products of the human mind." (Haas 1998)


Writing is a complex cognitive process relying on intricate perceptual-sensorimotor
combinations. The process and skill of writing is studied on several levels and in many
disciplines, from neurophysiological research on the shaping of each letter to studies on
stylistic and compositional features of authors and poets. In studies of writing and literacy
overall, the role of the physically tangible writing device (pen on paper; computer mouse
and keyboard; digital stylus pen and writing tablet; etc.) is rarely addressed. By and large,
the (relatively young) field of writing research is dominated by cognitive approaches
predominantly focusing on the visual component of the writing process, hence maintaining
a separation between (visual) perception and motor action (e.g., haptics1). However, recent
theoretical currents in psychology, phenomenology & philosophy of mind, and
neuroscience – commonly referred to as “embodied cognition” – indicate that perception
and motor action are closely connected and, indeed, reciprocally dependent.
Today, most of our writing is done with digital writing devices (the computer, the mobile
phone, the PDA [i.e., Personal Digital Assistant]), rather than writing by hand. The switch
from pen and paper to mouse, keyboard and screen entails major differences in the haptics
of writing, at several distinct but intersecting levels. Handwriting is by essence a unimanual
activity, whereas typewriting is bimanual. Typically, handwriting is also a slower process
than typewriting. Moreover, the visual attention of the writer is strongly concentrated
during handwriting; the attentional focus of the writer is dedicated to the tip of the pen,
while during typewriting the visual attention is detached from the haptic input, namely the
1Haptics is defined as a combination of tactile perception associated with active movements
(i.e. voluntary movements generated by central motor commands which, in turn, induced
proprioceptive feedback). Haptic perception is involved in exploratory hand movements
and object manipulation.

MORE PUBLISHED SOON in an edited book on haptics


Anonymous said...

another paper in the book

Tomohiro Amemiya, Hideyuki Ando, Taro Maeda, (章分担執筆),

"Kinesthetic Illusion of Being Pulled Sensation Enables Haptic Navigation for Broad Social Applications",

Advances in Haptics, (Edited by Mehrdad Hosseini Zadeh),

In-Tech, ISBN 978-953-307-093-3.(in press)

Anonymous said...

Anne Mangen is doing a wonderful job that may just reform education and save our western civilization.

I've done a controlled, on-line meta-analysis ahowing that if kids in K-1 learn to write the alphabet at a rate if 40 letters per minute, THERE ARE NO READING FAILURES.

A description of the study is available as a 3-page MS Word file attachment. Email Bob at rovarose