There are times when it’s tough to be a teacher. It’s even worse when you were a former Business Education Director and your friends know about it. My friend, in this case is a public librarian. On a recent visit, she showed me something that really frustrated her.
In the computer nook, there was a secondary school student who was trying his best to enter an essay into the computer. He was using the technique fondly known as “hunting and pecking” and it was painfully slow.
Then comes the inevitable comment – “This is what happens when we take a valuable life skill like typing out of the curriculum.” In my best diplomatic voice, I explained that we had dropped the word “typing” in favour of “keyboarding” a long time ago. I received one of those librarian stares because she knew I was splitting hairs. I knew what she was getting at and resisted the urge to ask her to look at the students cursive writing while she was on a roll.
But it is tough.
While the keyboarding aspect to curriculum is gone for most students, the elements of education that actually require the skill (like keyboarding an essay) remain in the curriculum. The result is the hunter and pecker that eventually gets the job done. I’d be willing to bet that things would have been faster if the student was able to text the essay. But then, there’s the time it takes and the inevitable suggesting spelling making inappropriate suggestions.
This is the 21st century though. Voice recognition has never been better, right? Could you imagine how “good” it would be in a class of 30 with everyone dictating an essay to their device all at the same time. Well, there’s always the library. Keep it under the shush level and you’ll be good. I’m told the shushing doesn’t come from the librarian anymore; just from the other patrons who look for the library as a place of quiet.
Surely, you must have a suggestion for a computer program to help out with learning to keyboard. I pulled out my phone to my set of bookmarks and offered up 10fastfingers.com. It’s an interesting challenge.
Students, certainly at the secondary school level, don’t want to start at the basics.
For the most part, they know where the keys are. They just need practice accessing them. I read a report once that indicated that hunters and peckers can work themselves up to a speed of 20 words a minute without too much of a hassle but then reach that ceiling where only a good technique lets them break through.
I hadn’t tested myself for a while so I sat down and tried a test.
Hey, 57 wpm isn’t bad. I even got a badge for my efforts.
I had to leave so I really don’t know how this particular story ends.
But, I’d be interested in your thoughts, kind reader, about keyboarding.
- Does it have a place in today’s classroom?
- What are the challenges students face without the skill?
Maybe, I should have saved this post for a Sunday for my “whatever happened to” series.