If you’re younger than I am, you may never have experienced typing class. Back in my day, it was something almost every high school student took at least once. Like Home Economics. And, despite the pink ghetto and sexism of the time, it was boys as well as girls, although maybe not quite as many.
I still remember sitting at the manual typewriter in ninth grade. The teacher was the same one I had for Latin class (another subject you don’t hear much about anymore); she was very strict and a little scary. We sat and typed the same letter over and over and over again. With the proper fingers on the QWERTY keyboard. A a a a a a. S s s s s s. And so it went. Then came the timed drills. I can almost feel the stress just writing about it! Glutton for punishment that I was, I took, a second year of typing. Not sure why. Not sure what it covered that we didn’t learn the first go round. I think maybe formal letter formats, another dying art since we mostly use email now. (A salutation? What’s that?)
For high school graduation my maternal grandmother gave me an electric typewriter to take to college. Back then it was quite high-tech and quite a luxury. Mine even had correction tape. Loved that! Fast forward thirty years: for his graduation my son’s maternal grandmother gave him a laptop. No correction tape needed:)
My boys never took typing class. I believe they were introduced to something called “keyboarding” at some point during a required computer class, maybe even as far back as elementary school. But I know for a fact that neither son puts his hands on the keyboard the way I do, with my pointer fingers on the F and J keys, using the little raised bumps as a guide. (Oh – so that’s why there are bumps there!) Instead, they hunt and peck and use a variety of fingers on a variety of keys. But having grown up with computers and the internet and all that jazz, they are as fast or faster than I am!
But I have a huge advantage: I can type even though the letters on my keyboard have mostly worn off. (A sign of too much time spent on the PC?) My younger brother was helping me one day with an advanced email problem and had to turn over the keyboard to me because he couldn’t find the right letters. He’s just enough younger to be more like my sons than their “touch typing” trained mother. Generations X and Y vs. the Baby Boomers. But the “hunt and peck” generation have one huge advantage over me: thumbing. (Not to be confused with hitchhiking which is just one more example of something we don’t see anymore.) So handy for text messaging and tablet use. Those thumbs can fly in a way mine never will. (And when I tried to type a text on my brother’s iPhone, I couldn’t hit the right keys for the life of me!)
I’d like to think that my years of muscle memory will serve me well. That my fingers will fly, thanks to my typing teacher and her repetition. But I recently read that apparently my years of typing conditioning are now outdated. Because, of all things, I use two spaces at the end of a sentence. As I was trained. Over and over. But now, it seems that current protocol is to use only one. Something to do with the spacing on a computer versus that of a typewriter. That’s going to be a tough habit to break. Not sure I’ll even try.
I’ll just keep clacking away. Speedily, if I say so myself. But don’t take my word for it – this post was actually inspired by a link I saw for an online typing test. Just for grins, I gave it a try. I expected to maybe score 45-50 words per minute. Sixty-nine. Yep, 69 wpm! Clackety, clack.
Times… they are a’changing.
Touch Typing Trivia (from Nimble Fingers):
The sentence: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” uses every letter of the alphabet.
“Stewardesses” is the longest word typed with only the left hand and “lollipop” with your right.
The average person’s left hand does 56% of the typing.
TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard.
Do you type by touch? Do you write in cursive? What things did you learn growing up that are now obsolete?
Photo: M-m-m-my Corona:) Formerly my grandparents’.