Is it because learning as a child tends to center on very visual and tactile methods? Maybe that's where the tendency is from; we played with Tangrams when we were younger, physically having to move bits around to add up to a whole. Ditto jigsaw puzzles. Perhaps toys like Tinkertoys and LEGO are better examples, even, since they can be open-ended and require more imagination than necessarily working towards a specific whole.
There is probably a simple cognitive theory that perfectly explains this. I'm working on 10 things at once this week and my thoughts are like an untied shoelace at the moment, please forgive me!
EDIT [20 October 2008] I recently got some very interesting input from Christy of Living Breathing; I met her at Likemind last Friday.
maybe it has something to do with the idea of permanence / finality, and its association with typing/computers. i often don't even open up powerpoint when i start a presentation; instead, i'll lay out sheets of paper and handwrite the headlines and re-arrange. only when i'm sort of happy with the flow and "ready" will i put it into powerpoint. i'm wondering if there's something just more unofficial and casual and free form about physical writing - forgiving of mistakes too - which can sometimes lead to more inspired thoughts.Thanks Christy!
[photo courtesy of NaNa [supergirl] on Flickr]