For years, working with fellow journalists, I had been fascinated by the way my co-workers type. This is before the Internet took hold. My fascination was not only with watching my co-workers but also in my personal life watching friends, usually male friends, type.
In my observations, years ago, I came to the conclusion that the older the person, the less proficient he or she was at typing. And, I may add, I concluded that females were better typists than males when in came to the correct hand positioning on the keyboard. I attributed this to my belief that more females than males probably took typing in high school.
As a journalist I had first-hand, literally, experience in not only the importance in have mastered the skill of typing, but also in positioning my hands correctly on the typewriter for, after all, there is a reason why the letters are positioned the way they are.
I would be fascinated by the positions and number of or lack of fingers that some co-workers would use to type. Yes, they did indeed get the work done. As my children got older, I insisted that they take typing in high school, no matter the path they would take in life. I am glad they did for who would have predicted years ago the technology boom we are now facing? But learning typing in high school is really too late for young people today.
Common Core Standards. This is a national initiative to align state curricula with each other. According to the Common Core State Standards initiative, "The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for college and careers... [and] to compete successfully in the global economy."
Among the many aspects of this initiative garnering attention, is the fact that not only must children be taught to meet the standards in English/language arts, but also they must be able to do so by mastering keyboarding skills, beginning in third grade. According to the third-grade curriculum standards, students must use technology to produce and publish writing using keyboarding skills. Subsequent grade level standards are more specific. For example, in the fourth grade students must demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of one page in a single setting. In fifth grade, they must be able to type two pages in a single setting.
According to an article in the Washington Post, "Educators around the country are rushing to teach typing to children who have barely mastered printing by hand." The article quotes Kathleen Egan, the director of curriculum and instruction at New Jersey's Glen Rock public schools, who noted that "on the Common Core assessments, some of these writings are going to be document-based questions or sorting through different types of text ...The last thing you want is for the kids to be struggling with the mechanical skills."
I could relate to that statement, as a former college English instructor and now grandmother. During a recent visit with my 13-year-old grandson, he explained his homework to me. He had to state the qualities of the main character in the story he had just read and cite examples of the main character's actions that illustrate those qualities. I watch him set up with his computer at the dining room table as he referred back to his reading and quickly began typing.
Now that I have learned a little about the Common Core Standards, with the exams to be given in 2014-15, I am going to pay more attention to all my grandchildren's finger positions on their keyboards and hope that they are learning the right way to type so that, as Regan noted, they will have the "fluency skill" akin to memorizing the multiplication tables in order to more quickly perform complex mathematics. "
This is no longer the era of "hunt and peck."
Rita Papazian is a freelance writer who can be reached at email@example.com