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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 Useful Wheat (1488675) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @02:33AM (#29347697)

    Say goodbye evolution/creation debate. Say hello keyboard layout wars.

    I won't have you teaching my children DVORAK, you left wing hippie! If QWERTY was good enough for our founding fathers, its good enough for us!

    • 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.

  • IT Industry (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rophuine (946411) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @02:33AM (#29347701) Homepage
    I'm a software engineer, and I get to work daily with some people who never learned to touch-type. It would be a nice bonus to productivity if everyone around me could; not ground-breaking, but nice. I think, by and large, by the time people hit the workforce, their typing habits are pretty unlikely to change without some major effort. Is even high school too late? Most kids are regularly using computers right through primary school. I think learning to type is a responsibility shared by parents and primary schools these days.
    • 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.

      • 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 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.
      • 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: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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nitroamos (261075)

          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!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by FatAlb3rt (533682)
        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 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 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 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: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Narpak (961733)
          I use all my fingers when I write on a keyboard. Back in school (we had a few classes were we practised touch) when I was forced to position my fingers according to the "correct method" I wrote slower and caught myself looking down on the keyboard now and again. Touch might be a fine technique for some, helping them improve their form and using all their fingers. But some, particularly those that use computers extensively for one reason (hobby) or another, can learn to type fast on their own and without "st
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by martyros (588782)

          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,

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Think about how much it would hurt their texting speed to have to work on a layout as large as a full-sized keyboard.

  • by Supurcell (834022) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @02:37AM (#29347733)
    I don't type very fast, but I also don't really have anything too interesting to say.
  • 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 TeXMaster (593524)

      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.

      I had no idea what the notches on the F and J keys were for, but now that you mentioned them in this context they make perfect sense. Thanks.

      • 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.

    • I still had mandatory shorthand courses (yes, I'm THAT old!). It didn't do much for me. Even during my university time, I usually either had a computer with me (and my typing skill beats my shorthand any time) or there wasn't much to be written.

      Kids these days would probably just replace it with cells and text their notes. I've seen them text. Some of them can probably outmatch a court stenographer.

    • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BeanThere (28381)

      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

  • Equal time (Score:5, Funny)

    by has2k1 (787264) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @02:40AM (#29347745)
    As chairman of the Hunt-And-Peck Association of Typists (HPAT), I demand equal representation in the class room.
  • 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?

    • by vxvxvxvx (745287)
      I sure thought they did. I know when I was in highschool in the 90's my school had only two computer classes. One was "web design" (code for "how to use microsoft front page"), and the other was "keyboarding". Now, you could take a test to get a waiver out of keyboarding but otherwise it was required. To pass the test you had to do at least 30wpm.
  • DVORAK? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pipatron (966506) <pipatron@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @02:41AM (#29347753) Homepage
    So now is the chance to get people to start using DVORAK or maybe something even better (maybe there's been more research on this the last decades). Personally I still use QWERTY but that's just because of 20+ years of being used to it. Would be nice with a thought-through layout as standard.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by El_Muerte_TDS (592157)

      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 h

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by xaxa (988988)

        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 belmolis (702863) <`billposer' `at' `alum.mit.edu'> on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @02:45AM (#29347777) Homepage

    Teaching children touch-typing is an excellent idea, but high school is much too late. Even junior high school kids have reports to write, and still younger kids are using computers. Touch-typing should be taught in elementary school. As far as the curriculum is concerned, grade five or six would probably be alright, but it might need to be earlier to prevent kids from fossilizing bad two-finger habits.

    I went to an unusual school that taught touch-typing in grade six back in 1968. We didn't have personal computers then, but for me it was a godsend as I have awful handwriting. Judging from my experience in that school, sixth graders have no difficulty learning touch typing.

    • by Chakotay (3529) <a.arendsen@gma i l . com> on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @03:53AM (#29348243) Homepage

      Agreed! I took a Scheidegger touchtyping course when I was around 10 years old, on one of ye olde electric typewriters, and it turns out that it is one of the most useful things I ever learned. Well, math and spelling are very useful too, of course, but touchtyping is a skill that has served me throughout my professional life.

      The problem is that in elementary school, most teachers don't know how to touch type, so how could they teach the children? The teachers should be taught first!

  • A high percentage of school children will also end up flipping burgers...... why not teach them that too?

    I'm in my early 30's so I may be old fashioned, but I thought school was about providing an education, not about vocational skills.

    In any case, if you do end up using a computer, how many of those jobs will require a high wpm count? - Probably only the secretarial type jobs. So let secretarial college teach this.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Yeah. They should also get rid of that useless physical education thing, it's useless as it's not really education. Of course, they should keep the small part that is theoretical stuff, perhaps roll it into the biology classes.
  • I'm in the IT line. I've never attended a typing course in my life but i self-taught myself touch-typing on some freeware, once in QWERTY, once in DVORAK and in either case it took a little less than three weeks. The real speed came from chatting in IRC. My sister is not in the IT line, she went through the same IRC "course" and she types just a little slower than I. As useful as touch typing is - I think it's trivial to pick it up when compared to something as deep as reading and arithmetic. All that bein
  • I don't want their hands to be crippled before they start their first job!

    I wouldn't accept anything less than this: http://www.datahand.com/products/proii.htm [datahand.com]
    With a adapted proper layout like DVORAK, or for German keyboards NEO ( http://www.neo-layout.org/ [neo-layout.org] Because compared to this, DVORAK looks like a bad joke of inside-the-box thinking ^^).

  • Won't kids learn to type anyway? By the time I was forced to take typing class by my smugly progressive high school in the 1980s I had already taught myself to type. I had a different method (and still do) and resisted the home-key touch-typing method, with the result that I scored poorly in typing class. This was despite the fact that I can type accurately at 90wpm.

    Perhaps there are some kids who haven't had much keyboard exposure who would benefit from it, but for those who have and use computers at hom

    • by QuantumG (50515) *

      Ya, and homerow bullshit is the cause of much of the hand crippling RSI that people experience. It's sad that something so obvious as "that's not natural" has to be argued for.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by raju1kabir (251972)

        Ya, and homerow bullshit is the cause of much of the hand crippling RSI that people experience. It's sad that something so obvious as "that's not natural" has to be argued for.

        I've been typing most of the day for 35 years and my hands are fine. All I needed to know was "watch your posture and keep your wrists straight," which my mother told me in about 15 seconds. Not worth a slot that could be used for an actual class on something important.

  • This was mandatory in my first year of high school(8-12). It only took a few weeks and was rolled into either the fine arts elective or the everything else course(sex ed, woodwork, cooking, sewing, etc).

    Touch Typing could be taught in Elementary School but when I was there the computers were older than the students. The school could have taught touch typing on apple 2s but it did not.

    Of course, maybe children are just learning this on their own or from family members now. I was managing to type a few "paper

  • I had touch typing in school. I still search and peck. OK, I use 4 fingers instead of two. I would not be better or faster if I had passed that class.

    The reason that I do not think it is very important is because I seldom type many words after another. Most of the time I type a few words and then re-think or do a research. e.g. the two few lines took me some 5 minutes, not because I could not find the letters, but because I stop every now and then.

    I do not say that touch typing is useless, It is just that o

  • 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 tou

  • by FSWKU (551325) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @02:59AM (#29347875)
    That we teach kids how to write properly and put ideas into words FIRST. Being able to type will be of no use whatsoever if you don't know how to communicate. My brother's girlfriend teaches 6th grade, and a good portion of these kids are COMPLETELY unable to put together a coherent sentence. They're writing on at BEST a second grade level (the whole issue of kids not being held back when they need to be is another debate entirely), so a typing class will be of no benefit to them whatsoever. And that's just when you can actually decipher the chicken-scrawl that passes for handwriting these days.

    Bottom line is, they need to be learning things in some sort of a sequence so that they can build on what they already know. My opinion is they should go with it as follows:
    1. Reading/Handwriting (and no, I don't mean cursive): Be able to properly and clearly write the letters you will use for the rest of your life and learn it early. Yes, this is still important, because there are many times in daily life you will not have the option to simply punch buttons on a keyboard. If taught while one is still learning to read, the two disciplines will reinforce each other. Also, learning how to write before you can type builds fine motor control.
    2. Grammar & Comprehension: Once you have a solid grasp of how to read words and copy them in your own hand, you can begin the process of learning all the wonderfully annoying nuances of your native language (English being by FAR the most annoying). You don't have to master it overnight, but you want to get the basics down before you move any further. This will ensure that you know how to properly communicate on a functional level, and also that you are able to learn the more complex tidbits more easily.
    3. Typing: Yes, I put typing last on the list. If you don't know how to properly communicate FIRST, then all having the ability to type will do is make you seem like an idiot that much faster. You will get nowhere in life if the extent of your communication skills resembles the output from a pre-alpha version of Babelfish. Once you have a successful grasp on reading/writing/comprehension, only then does typing become an important tool in enabling you to communicate your ideas much faster. Before then, all it will do is become a hinderance.

    I am well aware the article talks about teaching this at the high school level, but from what I've seen, it doesn't improve much. When I was in high school, there were juniors and seniors who could barely read, and their handwriting may as well have been from Omicron Persei 8 for how legible it was. We need to make sure kids have a handle on the basic skills BEFORE they get to high school. If we can manage that, I'm pretty sure most will pick up typing quite well on their own.

    • 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.
  • ...something that could be applied in the course of future employment? Now, that's just crossing the line right there. You know public school is about sharing feelings and enumerating all the ways white American males are evil.
  • stunned (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Locutus (9039) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @03:10AM (#29347951)
    I'm stunned that it isn't required already. I took typing and even did it with a broken finger taped to a popsicle stick but it was one of the best courses I took. It is agonizing to watch someone poking their fingers on a keyboard with their hands moving all over the place and their eyes looking down and up and down and up. So much wasted effort and time and at the same time, businesses let people get away with this too. 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. Would you hire a mechanic who used a wrench for a hammer and screwdriver as a chisel? But, it's allowed, it's accepted, and as we have been made aware in this thread, touch-typing is an after thought in our school system so it's unlikely to change.

    LoB
  • 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 Slugster (635830)

      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.

      This is true.
      In the US anyway, schools continue to NOT advance with using computers in the classroom--mainly becuase textbook publishers steadfastly refuse to make fully-electronic versions of their materials available.

      Additionally--a lot of people won't need typing much, and those that will use it a

  • by PCM2 (4486)

    I never learned how to type.

    To this day, I use an advanced form of hunt-and-peck, where I don't look at the keys but I cross my fingers in odd ways sometimes and I definitely never use home position.

    For the last ten years or so, I've made my living as a writer. So go figure.

    And besides, this seems like an odd idea to have now. Isn't it the old parents' lament that their kids always know how to use the computer ten times better than they do? How do you get to be fluent on a computer without knowing how to us

  • 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.
  • Not everyone can learn to touch type; you either have the necessary talent,
    or you don't. Why penalize students who cannot touch type when it just isn't
    that useful or necessary, just like calculus and 10-sec 100 meter dash.

    I've been a programmer for longer than I care to remember. I took typing
    in high school, but never managed to be a touch typist (I memorize enough
    at a glance to keep my fingers busy for copying and compose on the fly for
    text and programming). I also took calculus in high school (and coll

  • 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 value_added (719364) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @05:39AM (#29348777)

      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 learned about the same time, but my experience was a bit different. I opted to take a typing class that was advertised as "business somethingorother" to prepare girls for future careers as secretaries. My reasons for taking the class were twofold. First, that's where the girls were, so what better place to meet one? Second, certain classes required that term papers be typed and not hand-written. I wasn't about to sit at home and do the hunt and peck routine so typing class it was.

      I met lots of girls, of course. The problem was I typed faster than most of them, so they resented me. The more "interesting" girls were hanging around outside smoking cigarettes, anyway. ;-)

      When computers came along, I felt right at home. My typing, same as you, has gotten better over the years. Funny how far learning proper technique can take you.

      Best class I ever took? Absolutely. And seeing how poorly people type on keyboards today, and listening to all the "ergonomic" complaints and excuses, I'd suggest that all kids be forced to take a typing class (and preferrably on a manual typewriter where they can discover the value of technique). Whether they grow up to work as secretaries or programmers, doesn't matter. Most all jobs (auto mechanics included) involve using a keyboard for part of the work day. And for non-working hours, how can anyone find or get porn effectively without being able to type?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rossz (67331)

      I took typing in my freshman year of high school. I was planning ahead and figured it would be a useful skill in college. The class was taught on old manual typewriters. To this day I am very rough on computer keyboards because of the pressure I had to use on those old keyboards.

      It was the single most useful class of my entire four years of high school.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • I agree 100% (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bovinewasteproduct (514128) <gclarkii AT gbdispatch DOT com> on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @04:29AM (#29348439) Homepage

    I've kept trying to tell my own kids that out of all the classes I took in HS, typing has helped me the most.
    Sure math and english were important, don't get me wrong, but the typing helped the most.

    BWP

  • by rbrander (73222) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @09:30AM (#29350231) Homepage

    I was in grade 10 in 1972, but my brothers, 7 and 9 years older, got the same treatment: forced to take "Typing 10" in a nearly all-girl classroom when the only point to it was as a first course towards a secretarial career. In my case, they'd turned it into a full-year course, the second half of which was beyond just typing and into various formats for business letters, filing systems, and so on. I got bored and managed to drop out after taking a test (51%, whew).

    Mom's point was that typing was a generally useful skill, like being able to hammer nails. She wasn't thinking we'd become secretaries, just able to type our college papers without pain. She'd taken touch-typing in the 40's and never been a secretary but never regretted it.

    Electric typewriters were still rare in 1972, the Apple ][ still in the future, so how much less excuse is there now for not calling it a "basic skill"? For me, it's been huge. A lot of IT work is very verbose and repetitive; I do SQL all day long some days, with tiresome table/column names like INFRANET_SW.WTR_HYDRANT.WH_VALVE_DIRECTION. (Or, yes, I can take my hands from the keyboard, move the mouse to the panel that's the list of tables, scroll down to the hydrant table, click on it, look down the column-panel for the column name, and click...which takes at least as long...if you touch type; or much longer than typing if you don't).

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