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The Case For Mandatory Touch-Typing In High School 705

Posted by kdawson
from the quick-brown-fox dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "With the perspective of forty-plus years since my graduation, I would say the single most useful course I took in high school was a business class in touch-typing that gave me a head start for writing and with computers that I have benefited from my entire life. So it was with particular interest that I read Gordon Rayner's essay in the Telegraph proposing that schools add a mandatory course in touch typing to the cornerstones of education: reading, writing and arithmetic. 'Regardless of the career a child takes up when they leave school, a high percentage of them will use a keyboard in their daily work, and all of them are likely to use a keyboard in their leisure time,' writes Rayner. 'Touch-typing would help every child throughout their lives — so why are our schools so blind to this?'"
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The Case For Mandatory Touch-Typing In High School

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  • by incognito84 (903401) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @02:35AM (#29347711)
    Touch-typing is a drop in the bucket.

    First, we'd have to begin to get rid of the lecture method with all it's crotchety old proponents who over-emphasize the main learning stream while under-emphasizing the alternatives.

    Then we'd have to rebuild education metholodogy to suit the 21st century. I'd say we're a few generations behind.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @02:35AM (#29347717)

    I had mandatory touch-typing in middle school (6th-8th grades) and it was worthless. I didn't learn a thing - I typed slowly and uncomfortably.

    Then one day, I decided I wanted to learn to program computers. I taught myself C, and halfway through the project discovered that I had become a pretty good touch typist. Typing is a skill like riding a bike - you'll learn it by doing it. Forcing it on kids (who would rather be taking another, more meaningful course but can't because their schedule is full of crap) is only going to make them resent it.

    Just because something is valuable doesn't mean public education has to teach it. As I student, I can say that the room in our schedules is finite, and if it's both useful and easy (like typing) we'll get it on our own, we don't need it taking up scarce time slots.

  • by LostMyBeaver (1226054) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @02:39AM (#29347739)
    Typing speed is what matters. I've never taken a single touch typing class, and with the exception of knowing what the two notches on the F and J keys are there for, I have little idea of what finger is for what key. The result? I type at 90+ words per minute and have extremely high accuracy.

    Touch typing classes were MUCH more relevant in the days when correction tape was used and it meant that important papers would have to be completely retyped when there was a mistake. Alternately, it was important when correction tape or white out was actually a major office expense. Both of these issues are entirely irrelevant today.

    If you want to push for something, how about hand writing classes since there are massive numbers of people that after leaving high school use a pen or pencil for little more than writing their names or doodling a picture on their notepad during a meeting. Penmanship is at an all-time low. Boys who were classically bad writers to begin with are probably unlikely to be able to read their own writing anymore. Girls are the new boys, their handwriting is deplorable as well now.

    An even better idea, how about mandatory short-hand classes so that when people do not have computers available to them (for example in meetings) will be able to write in some for or another that allows them to take accurate notes and still read it afterwards when they're back in front of their computers. It's been around since the days of Caesar, believed to have been invented by Cicero's manservant Marcus Tullius Tiro and yet, while being a most efficient form of writing is still barely used outside of court rooms.

    People who need to learn to type will learn on their own. On top of that, it's rare that you encounter a high school student these days that can't manage at least 30 words per minute. Their greatest flaw is no longer in typing speed, but the fact that even with a spell checker, they can't spell for shit. Let's not forget that spell checkers don't cover things like They're Their and There.
  • by mepperpint (790350) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @02:40AM (#29347751)

    When I was in elementary school, we went to the computer lab a couple days a week and were forced to use the PAWS typing tutor software on the Apple IIe. Is it really that case that there are still schools that don't teach this? Also, based on my experience, I don't think we should wait until high school to teach people to type. Elementary school seems like the right place, as children are learning to read and write, why not learn to type too?

  • Re:IT Industry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AuMatar (183847) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @02:42AM (#29347761)

    I'm a software engineer who can't touch type. And I can honestly say that learning wouldn't increase my productivity in any measurable way. I don't spend a majority of my day typing. For every minute spent typing I spend at least 15 thinking, debugging, etc. Even giving it a 25% increase (which is more than it's likely to be) would be negligible.

    On top of that touch typing just isn't comfortable for many people. I tried learning back in school. Hurt my wrists horribly to try to type like that. I'm pretty sure that touch typing position is the reason so many people get carpal tunnel. What is useful is learning the layout of the keyboard so you don't have to hunt and peck, but actually touch typing and returning to home row after every keypress is horribly overrated.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @02:47AM (#29347783)

    It's YOUR generation, 'with ... 40 years since [your] graduation' That needs typing lessons, not ours.

  • by EdIII (1114411) * on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @02:53AM (#29347837)

    That's not even the issue.

    Children will be typing before they can even understand what evolution is or who Jesus is.

    High School? Are they kidding? That's like trying to have mandatory sex education classes for 35 year old people. Maybe useful on /. but hardly far too late for the rest of the world.

    Typing is merely an interface to some sort of computerized system. Children learn surprisingly quickly. The other day I saw a 4 year old girl log into a Vista machine, start Firefox, and then *TYPE* the address for some website so she could play a game.

    Holy shit. Maybe she was exceptional, I don't know since I am not around kids that often. But, if 4 year old girls are doing it right now, then kids should already be typing experts by high school.

  • by GrpA (691294) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @02:55AM (#29347853)

    How can you forget this most basic of requirements. Don't you know most children will spend the rest of their lives breathing? Some do it professionally, but others do it socially.

    Given how important this is for the rest of their lives, let's have a 2 semester course on breathing!

    Did I mention eating? How about Viewing?

    Typing's the same... It's a subset of communications...

    You don't need to teach people how to type. You need to teach them what to type... They'll figure out how to do it themselves and if touch-typing is so important, they'll pursue that independantly.

    GrpA

  • Re:DVORAK? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by El_Muerte_TDS (592157) <elmuerte@drunksnipe r s .com> on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @03:05AM (#29347911) Homepage

    I don't see the need for DVORAK. Sure, you might be able to type faster in case you are writing plain English. But that's not very useful to me, because I'm either programming (which isn't plain english) or typing Dutch or English. Adopting DVORAK doesn't benefit my any more or less than QWERTY. (Well, maybe less because certain keys I often use in programming are now on harder to reach locations).

    Anyway... DVORAK seems to focus on people writing more text. But instead people should write less text with a higher quality.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @03:05AM (#29347917)

    I was about to write this. It wasn't in the curriculum 30 years ago, so it is not needed. Oh, sure, we caught up and teach now the Vietnam war in history (not instead of other junk but on top of it), but new courses? Get real. We're glad if we don't drop courses because the budget gets cut away again and again.

    Besides, how much typing skill do those dropouts need to carry a gun around?

  • by Technician (215283) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @03:06AM (#29347923)

    In the 1970's I took a typing class before the PC was invented and on the market. Computers were on the way, but just a novelty in the hobby market. The class was filled with typewriters with all blank keys. You touch type or else. This was great as it started me typing without looking at the keys. I very quickly learned to find the keys with the notches. Correction tape was a pain.

    The biggest problem now is not QWERTY vs Dorvak, it's the layout of the rest of the keys. This is highly non-standard. Using multiple keyboards as I move about home and factory, the delete and escapse keys are located everywhere from top left to the key cluster between the numeric pad to in the numeric pad to stuffed down by the Windows key on either side. In short, they could be anywhere except in the middle of the regular typing keys.

    My favorite keyboard overall is the old IBM klacky keyboard without the Windows key. It's one of the few keyboards that doesn't have a sticky spacebar. Way too many keyboards have a wide space bar that won't press down unless you hit it directly in the middle. Having to go back and insert missing spaces cuts typing speed.

  • Re:IT Industry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mr Z (6791) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @03:11AM (#29347957) Homepage Journal

    I find people who type faster are more likely to document their work because it takes less time to do so. After all, you've spent all that time thinking, what is it to write a half page summary of what that new module does and why it does it, and why it does it the way it does it? If you're hunting and pecking, it could take you longer to write the summary than it did to think of the code. If you can touch type (or at the very least type faster than 40-50WPM by whatever means), then it's no real burden. After all, if you're spending that much time thinking about your work, then you've already worked out pretty much everything you need to say.

    I type 80-90WPM from copy myself, thanks to having taking a touch typing course. Granted, I don't follow 100% proper classroom technique, but I do pretty well. Before that, I was a four-finger typer that did pretty good. I managed 35WPM from copy on my first typing test when I started my touch typing course. That was hard won from typing BASIC programs on my TI home computer as well as any other 80s machine I could get time on.

    I enjoy the freedom that touch typing gives me. In the same amount of time I can write much clearer and more complete documentation, clearer, more complete emails, and generally get communication done with and out of the way much more fluidly. I can type almost as fast as I can think. When I was pecking away at 35WPM, I was thinking way faster than I wrote, and so I wrote only the minimum, and ended up with cryptic crud.

    *shrug*

  • by colganc (581174) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @03:12AM (#29347969)
    This says alot more about how useless most of school is. Typing is important, but what are children doing for 99.99% of the time that learning touch typing can be considered such an important cornerstone.
  • by Max Romantschuk (132276) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @03:21AM (#29348027) Homepage

    I've been working with computers over ten years now, and playing with them since elementary school. I'm a programmer by trade, and I don't touch type.

    Sure, I don't at the keyboard, but my typing technique could be way better. I'm using two-three fingers per hand, plus thumbs.

    I've been trying to use the exellent Klavaro ( http://klavaro.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] ) to improve my skill, there has been some progress but nothing huge. I can't be bothered quite enough.

    I for one would have been grateful to have been force-fed the basics all those years back. I'm not saying it's the only option, I type fairly fast, but it's hard to unlearn all that muscle memory and use all fingers even if I'd want to.

  • by jimicus (737525) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @03:24AM (#29348035)

    You'd be surprised. Touch-typing doesn't just teach "how to type fast and accurately", it also teaches "how to type with minimum strain on your hands/wrists".

    If this hasn't affected you, you're lucky. If this has, you know exactly what I mean.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @03:26AM (#29348053)

    Not that different from a 4 year old loading and running a c64-game :)

  • by advocate_one (662832) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @03:28AM (#29348065)

    Besides, how much typing skill do those dropouts need to carry a gun around?

    the last thing you want in the front line is to be on the receiving end of a "typo" when someone has keyed the wrong coordinates in for an artillery mission or airstrike...

  • 1992 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Max Threshold (540114) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @03:30AM (#29348077)
    I took a touch-typing class in high school in 1992. It was utterly pointless. Touch-typing is learned naturally and quickly by people who use computers regularly, and useless to everyone else. High schools need to focus on the essentials - reading, math, history, logic - and leave specialized skills to the trade schools.
  • by LKM (227954) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @03:30AM (#29348081) Homepage

    I'm a software engineer who can't touch type. And I can honestly say that learning wouldn't increase my productivity in any measurable way.

    I'm a software engineer who can touch type. And I can honestly say that not knowing how to touch type would decrease my productivity in a measurable way.

    That's anecdotal evidence, by the way.

    Let's look at the larger picture here. You're correct that the "typing" part only makes up part of what a software engineer does. I'd say about 25-50% of my time is spent typing (not only code, also documentation, e-mails, blog posts on the internal company blog, wiki updates, etc.). Wikipedia says:

    An average professional typist reaches 50 to 70 wpm, while some positions can require 80 to 95 (usually the minimum required for dispatch positions and other time-sensitive typing jobs), and some advanced typists work at speeds above 120.
    Two-finger typists, sometimes also referred to as "hunt and peck" typists, commonly reach sustained speeds of about 37 wpm for memorized text, and 27 wpm when copying text but in bursts may be able to reach up to 60 to 70 wpm.

    So let's say it's 60 wpm for touch typing (I know I'm quite a bit faster than that, but we want to go with averages) and 37 wpm for two-finger typing.

    So, considering all this data: We probably spend about a third of our work time typing, and touch typing is on average roughly 1.6 times as fast as two-finger typing. For an 8-hour work day, that results in 2.7 hours of typing, of which roughly one hour is "wasted" for two-finger typers.

    I'd say one hour each day is a measurable increase (or decrease) in productivity.

    On top of that touch typing just isn't comfortable for many people.

    Then many people learned it wrongly.

    Hurt my wrists horribly to try to type like that.

    Then your position is incorrect. You really should have learned how to touch type properly :-)

  • Re:IT Industry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PitaBred (632671) <.gro.sndnyd.derbatip. .ta. .todhsals.> on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @03:32AM (#29348101) Homepage
    Touch typing is just being able to type without looking at the keyboard. If you don't use the "standard" techniques, that's fine. But being able to put thoughts down with the keyboard quickly is essential when writing. Rather than focusing on HOW you're writing, you're able to focus on WHAT you're writing. I'm all for having children just have a minimum "40wpm" limit or something like that.
  • by Eric Smith (4379) <<moc.ahahuorb> <ta> <cire>> on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @03:33AM (#29348109) Homepage Journal
    In the late 1970s I took a typing class in junior high school. Boys were actually discouraged from taking typing, so there were only a few other boys in the class. Despite the speed and accuracy requirements to pass the class being quite low, I barely passed, and the teacher advised me that I should never take a job requiring typing skills.

    I've been employed as a programmer almost continuously since that time; I did contract programming work while I was in high school. Learning to touch type made me much more productive than I'd been before the class. Over the years my typing speed has dramatically improved; the last time I checked it was over 100 wpm, though my accuracy hasn't improved nearly as much.

    I think any student that doesn't take a typing class in junior high or high school is doing himself or herself quite a disservice. It's a valuable skill even for someone that doesn't need it for a job. I suspect that it's probably easier to learn typing the earlier you do it.

  • by Fred_A (10934) <fred@f r e d s h o m e.org> on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @03:35AM (#29348127) Homepage

    Touch-typing is a drop in the bucket.

    Agreed. Since most people can't write, there's no point in having them touch type.

  • by icebike (68054) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @03:36AM (#29348133)

    Wasn't in the curriculum 30 years ago?

    Nonsense. Was too.

    It was an optional class in my high school, and it was full of girls, so I took it so I could sit next to HER.

    The touch typing is still with me to this day, but I haven't thought about HER for 29 years, until just now.

    It was the single most valuable class I took in High School.

  • The only way you'll learn how to put a coherent sentence together is by reading lots of them and recognizing them for what they are. Your brother's girlfriend is dealing with kids who have probably not read much of anything that they didn't absolutely have to, and their parents don't give a shit. My cousin teaches 6th graders, and I've gone in a few times to do a "Career Day" presentation. It's sad when you can see how bright the kids are, but they're trying so hard to be cool and popular and all the things that they think are important that they're missing out on the things that actually are important. I like to think that when I talk about salaries and tell them how much I had to read and write that they get a bit of a hint on how those things are connected.
  • by Anenome (1250374) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @03:47AM (#29348193)

    I started out as kids do, performing simple hunt'n'peck maneuvers. By the time I hit high-school it was well ingrained. At age 19, I wrote a novel of over 1,000,000 characters over a 1.5 year period, averaging four hours a day of just typing. That burned the keyboard layout into me (I would -never- go DVORAK).

    Even now, I don't even have to look at the keyboard to type near perfectly, long as my wrists remain still on the rest I don't lose my place. I can even type just as perfectly with my eyes closed or in a dark room by centering on the F and J keys to start. My style is now a mastered form of hunt'n'peck, hunt'n'peck taken to the Nth degree, massively improved through perfect memorization of the keyboard layout and ingrained muscle-memory, such that I can type now about 80 words per minute. It's simply 'think and the words are typed' at this point, as natural as speaking or writing with a pen.

    There came a time once that I thought I should improve my typing speed by learning to do real touch-typing the way professional typists must learn. So, I picked up a 'teach me typing' program, and diligently went through the courses for quite some time. I think it was 'Mario Teaches Typing' :P It had which finger you were supposed to use and all that jazz, and I did what it asked to the letter. Used the proper fingers, and arranged my hands as asked.

    Only one hitch: my hands began to hurt, a lot. I noticed there was a large amount of unnatural stretching and contortion compared to my mastered hunt'n'peck method in order to reach the key with the 'proper finger', the one the program demanded I use. Now, I didn't simply give up, I wanted to master this technique, I was committed. But, after a month of daily practice I couldn't take it anymore. I was nearly as fast while touch-typing, but my hands were killing me.

    I realized then why typists get carpel-tunnel syndrome and the like. Dogmatic touch-typing it terrible for your hands! You need to be able to relax your hands as your type, not stretch and contort them unnaturally. I went back to my freestyle typing and never looked back.

    My typing can realistically be called freestyle because, based on what combination of letters and words I'm typing, it could be any number of fingers that are available at the moment to type that key. The difference is, I know I have to hit that key, and it happens quite naturally. I don't use my pinkies to type at all (well, maybe to hit shift), but I use everything else. That's probably the difference between my speed and a professional typist, since 80 WPM isn't really something to sneeze at but a pro typist can hit 50% faster.

    But, now I'm attempting to turn myself into a professional author, and typing has become my primary skill, my devotion, my life. I'm glad I never took the touch-typing route! I'm quite certain that I will never develop carpel tunnel or repetitive strain injuries because my hands are relaxed, my fingers don't contort, and typing is done in perfectly natural motion. No overextended fingers, no awkward combinations. No pain.

    That's my experience. That's the wisdom I've gained.

  • by Mr. Freeman (933986) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @03:48AM (#29348199)
    "The system's efficiency is dropping steadily and steeply; teachers are out of touch with current technologies"

    Has calculus changed in the last 150 years?
    Has English changed (aside from a handful of grammar constructs, a few words, etc.) in the last 50?
    Does addition work differently that it did in the 15 century?

    Adding new teaching methods is a good idea if they work and help learning. i.e. putting full color 3-D graphs of certain functions in calc. books.
    But adding new technology is bad if it isn't used correctly. i.e. putting "smartboards", projectors, etc. in every classroom. No teacher knows how to use them, they are all required to use them, and student learning completely stops. Sitting in class for 20 minutes because the teacher can't get the computer to talk to the projector HARMS learning.

    Unfortunately, every time anyone tries to put "technology" into public schools, it fails miserably. Students are much better off taking notes from a lecture written on a chalkboard than watching a presentation bluescreen for the third time this week.

    People are very quick to say "TEACHERS ARE OUT OF DATE!", but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The material being taught hasn't changed because IT STILL WORKS LIKE IT DID BACK THEN!

    The other argument is that classes are "less relevant" to today's students. This is really just another way of saying "students are lazy and without spinning animations on screen every 5 seconds they start to daydream". Calculus is just as relevant to students now as it was to students 50 years ago (depending on choice of profession, this may be a lot or a little). But putting the fundamental theorem on calculus or on "these new-fangled interwebs" doesn't result in better learning over seeing it on a chalkboard.
  • I'm the lazy one.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Seth Kriticos (1227934) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @03:56AM (#29348257)

    I learned 2 different touch typing systems so far (QWERTY and Dvorak). Why?, because I'm unbelievably lazy. QWERTY was the obvious first choice, Dvorak was the improvement on it as I had to put in even less effort for typing after I learned it.

    Oh, and by the way, no school thought me this back then. I so dream of the day when schools start to do comprehensive education for life, but I guess that won't ever happen.

    Anyway, I'll never understand people, who sit in front of a screen 8 hours a day and use the 2 finger search system for typing. Seems so infinitely more work intensive. But non adaptive people still love to it.

  • by surferx0 (1206364) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:18AM (#29348379)

    I had mandatory touch-typing in middle school (6th-8th grades) and it was worthless. I didn't learn a thing - I typed slowly and uncomfortably.

    Then one day, I decided I wanted to learn to program computers. I taught myself C, and halfway through the project discovered that I had become a pretty good touch typist. Typing is a skill like riding a bike - you'll learn it by doing it. Forcing it on kids (who would rather be taking another, more meaningful course but can't because their schedule is full of crap) is only going to make them resent it.

    Just because you didn't bother to utilize the skills you learned in middle school, doesn't mean you didn't learn it. Programming C doesn't magically enable everyone to touch type, you brain fell back on your middle school training without realizing and sharpened those skills when you finally started having to type in larger volumes and needed to do so with moderate efficiency.

  • by hodagacz (948570) <citizendoe@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:58AM (#29348581)

    I had to take touch typing lessons from 6-9th grade and I'll be damned if any of them stuck. I've been two finger typing now for 30+ years and all those hours of class time were a waste.

  • by fractoid (1076465) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @05:00AM (#29348595) Homepage
    Most people I've seen who learned to touch type 'by themselves' are just fast hunt-and-peck typists who've memorised the key locations. Sure, they'll do OK at first, but they'll struggle to get above 40wpm. On the contrary, if you at least learn which finger goes on what key and then practise with that until you can touch type you can easily teach yourself 'the rest' and hit 80+ wpm with no problems. Touch typing with 9 fingers (My typing teacher told me she'd cut my left thumb off if she saw me using it :P ) is potentially at least 4.5x faster than doing so with two fingers due to maths and stuff.
  • by Arthur Grumbine (1086397) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @05:25AM (#29348703) Journal

    Touch-typing is a drop in the bucket.

    Agreed. Since most people can't write, there's no point in having them touch type.

    Judging by the replies to your post, most folks can't read so well either. To prevent more people from making fools of themselves, Fred A's post should probably be understood as "Since most people can't produce content that is worth writing about, teaching them touch typing will only increase the rate at which they can expel the offal that is their literary contributions."

  • by BeanThere (28381) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @05:34AM (#29348761)

    I can honestly say that teaching myself to touch-type early on (17 odd years ago) was the single-best, most valuable investment I ever made in my programmer career. It's been critical to my productivity and thus success (on a bad day I type over 100 wpm). I'm all for more of this in schools; apart from being a genuinely valuable skill, it would also reduce 'ppl lazly tpng lk this lol', and encourage more kids to write properly in general - and being able to write properly has strong links to being able to think properly.

  • Re:DVORAK? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xaxa (988988) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @05:35AM (#29348763)

    What programming language isn't mostly plain English (or some other language)? Most keywords are English words, as are most function and variable names. So are all the comments.

    I type much more English (comments, documentation, emails, IM chat, posting to Slashdot) than code.

    (I don't know how well Dvorak would work with Dutch, but it's very unlikely to be worse than Qwerty.)

  • by BeanThere (28381) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @05:41AM (#29348783)

    The result? I type at 90+ words per minute and have extremely high accuracy.

    So? I did learn to touch-type properly, and easily type at 120 wpm with high accuracy ... much faster than 90, every hour of every day, imagine how much that extra speed adds up - why diss touch-typing?

    Touch typing classes were MUCH more relevant in the days when correction tape was used and it meant that important papers would have to be completely retyped when there was a mistake.

    Actually, the main issue was that you could type blind (in fact it used to also be commonly called "blind typing", but maybe that isn't Politically Correct enough these days?) --- so secretaries could retype documents without taking their eyes off the source document.

    People who need to learn to type will learn on their own

    Ha ha, right ... tell that to half of the programmers at my workplace --- have you actually looked at a typical workplace, or are you still in school?

  • Re:IT Industry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BeanThere (28381) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @05:52AM (#29348831)

    I'm a software engineer who can't touch type. And I can honestly say that learning wouldn't increase my productivity in any measurable way.

    Logically the only way this can be true is if you think slower than you type, in which case, sorry, you may not be the best software engineer out there. I easily type 120wpm and it is still far too slow for me, whether it's coding or writing English (documents, slashdot posts, e-mails) I think much faster than I type, typing is *the* primary bottleneck in my work ... if I could type 500 wpm my productivity would go through the roof.

  • Re:stunned (Score:1, Insightful)

    by ArbiterShadow (1222388) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @06:01AM (#29348871)

    I've seen developers who can't touch-type and that is pathetic when such a skill means so much to getting the job done.

    I have to disagree here. Typing is most definitely not the bottleneck when it comes to coding - thinking is.

    I consider myself a perfectly good developer, and I can't touch-type in the traditional sense (I can type at a decent rate using most of my fingers, but I have to look at the keyboard every now and again.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @06:17AM (#29348947)

    No one needs to learn touch-typing. You learn it by yourself. I didn't learn it in school but with all those years of typing on a keyboard, I learned it. I can say I type fast enough.

    I graduated in software engineering and I'd say that about 70% of all classes I had in my life was a complete waste of time. This would just be another one of those.

  • by Aladrin (926209) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @06:38AM (#29349055)

    Unless you're 13 right now, this has absolutely no relevance. Computers have invaded our society at an amazing rate in the last 20 years. Typewriters were not very useful for elementary and middle school students, unlike computers. It doesn't surprise me a bit that you didn't use them... -When you were a kid.-

    Today is different, and that is what this discussion is about.

    We're not getting off your lawn.

  • Re:Watch Mad Men (Score:3, Insightful)

    by characterZer0 (138196) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @07:04AM (#29349149)

    Right. We do not need factory workers any more. The Chinese can do that. We need to train people for unemployment.

  • by twostix (1277166) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @08:16AM (#29349553)

    The length of compulsory government education for children has steadily increased since it began as it was always the intention of the creators and maintainers of it to remove the task of raising children from parents to the child rearing "experts" (aka themselves). This in their own words was to ensure that children were moulded to requirements of industry and enlightened society without parents interfering and undoing all their hard work.

    That is not in anyway a secret to anyone who has a cursory knowledge of the history of Compulsory Education.

    Not to mention most of primary school now is purely social indoctrination and almost no hard academics is taught until fourth grade.

    If you believe students are learning more than they did 50 years you're living in an *absolute* fantasy land.
      The fourth grade curriculum had children reading and understanding Shakespeare and de-constructing poetry. Being able to do advanced multiplication and division in their heads was compulsory (my mums books from primary school look just like my high school books, my eight year old boys third grade books look like my kindergarten books).
    The school system educates children just fine by the way, you just have to understand what exactly it is that they are being taught.

    Understanding starts here: http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/underground/toc1.htm [johntaylorgatto.com]

  • by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@NOSpAM.barbara-hudson.com> on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @08:45AM (#29349801) Journal

    Just to clarify. When they gave the teachers the 'smart boards' (in her case, basically a digital overhead projector that can also work as a 'classic' computer projector) nobody told anyone how to work them. They gave her the box, software CD, and thats it. Nothing was installed for them, the crap wasn't even unpackaged.

    Cry me a river. If a teacher can't figure out how to connect something like that themselves, they're probably a lousy teacher. Lack of curiosity shows in traits such as "I don't know how to do this, so someone has to show me." It's not rocket science. Then again, these people probably need the warning that comes with their blender "do not stick fingers in blades while running." - and they think "Why would I take a blender while jobbong?"

    Or they could just have asked their students to figure it out for them - at least a few of them haven't been contaminated with "learned helplessness."

    "Oh, but RTFM is too HARD for a teacher!"

    If you can't teach yourself, you have no business teaching anyone else.

  • by martyros (588782) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @09:46AM (#29350403)

    I certainly benefited a lot from having it required in my school -- two consecutive years, in fact. I was always a bit mystified that my computer-geek friends, who planned on writing programs for a living, just slacked off in class and didn't even bother (and now program with just two fingers on each hand). Maybe the teacher didn't motivate students well enough, who knows. Maybe it was because the school still had mechanical typewriters. :-)

    There are some things that kids don't like when they're young, but if they're pushed to do it (within reason), they appreciate it later. I've never heard someone say, "I wish my parents hadn't pushed me to stick with piano lessons when I was younger". I hear lots of people, seeing their friends who now can just sit down and play something enjoyable, say, "I wish my parents had pushed me to stick with piano lessons when I was younger." I'm sure there are examples of parents who pushed kids who now resent it, but that doesn't change the fact that a little pushing, within reason and with love, can be good in the long run.

  • Re:IT Industry (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FatAlb3rt (533682) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @09:56AM (#29350539) Homepage
    As I read through the comments here, this seems to be a common theme. For those who don't touch type, they can't conceive how learning to do so would make them more productive. For those that do touch type, they can't imagine NOT knowing how to.

    Even giving it a 25% increase (which is more than it's likely to be) would be negligible.
    Tell ya what, let's call it a 10% increase. I'll go home every Friday at noon while you stay until 5:00. ;)
  • by fractoid (1076465) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @10:13AM (#29350779) Homepage

    I taught myself to type, and I type at 100 wpm. I use all my fingers, just not in the ridiculously formal way touch typing is taught.

    I'd say of all the replies, you're probably closest to my style. I did a 3 month typing course in first year high school, then promptly forgot it all. Later when I finally had regular use of a computer, I found myself typing with my fingers on the home row. A while later I found out by accident that I really didn't need to look at the keyboard while I typed. I've tested myself at 90wpm but I tend to type slower if I'm not transcribing (and infinitely faster if I am - gogo copy/paste :P ) because the bottleneck isn't my keyboard skills. I'd suspect that that's why I haven't raised my speed past 90wpm, and that if I started to spend more time on IRC again I'd see some improvements.

  • Re:IT Industry (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 4D6963 (933028) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @10:33AM (#29351015)

    He said software engineer, not code monkey. I can spend two hours tweaking 20 lines of code cause that's where all the logic takes place. If thinking up your code is anywhere near as fast as typing it, you must be a code monkey. As for the rest, my leet vim skills matter a lot more than my two-finger 80 wpm typing.

    For a software engineer typing speed matters about as much as car/bicycle aerodynamics for a mailman.

  • Re:IT Industry (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nitroamos (261075) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @12:09PM (#29352521)

    Logically the only way this can be true is if you think slower than you type, in which case, sorry, you may not be the best software engineer out there.

    It looks like you didn't take the time to think through your logic before you jumped to this conclusion!

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