Plunk, plunk, plunk, plunk, DING! Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzt. Remember manual typewriters? And remember Typing Class where a whole chorus of plunk, plunk, plunk, plunk, DING! Zzzzzzzzzzzts would echo through the classroom? And remember how there would be one or two of your classmates who were fortunate enough to have an electric typewriter? You'd be all settled at your desk, typewriter out, paper loaded, and you'd look up to see one of them standing there with their fancy case. "Could we trade seats? I need to be by the outlet," one would ask. What. Ever. you'd think as you picked up your behemoth machine and moved to another desk. Away from the window, the one thing that would keep you sane during the endless keying of ssssss, llllll, slslslsl, lslsls. Home Row. Fingers on Home Row. And you'd watch with envy as the kid-with-the-electric-typewriter's fingers skimmed lightly over the keys, which jumped in response to the touch. And a simple button push returned the carriage to home, whereas you had to hold on one side with one hand while pushing the carriage over with the other to prevent sliding the entire machine across the desk and on to the floor.
Yes, those were the good ol' days. And now? Well, now, it is keyboarding, not typing. And there is less appreciation for the keyboard than for the typewriter. You know how I know that? Because these days, kids use U for you and ur for your and IMHO for in my humble opinion. Seriously, you would think we would have thought of shortcuts like that back in our typewriter days when we nursed our sore fingers for days after typing a 5-page paper.
And of course our typewriters did not autofill the word we were typing or autocorrect misspellings. No, we had to actually think for ourselves. But it must be a better world, though, right? I do know one thing: Learning to type was one of the most useful skills I ever learned. So I am determined that my children will learn to type and learn to type right.
Years ago, I bought a typing book, I mean a real typing book. Like the one I learned from, only I failed to get the one that can be propped up by its own cover. However, it is the same...you start at Home Row and you spend tedious amounts of time typing things that don't make sense like aaaaaa ;;;;;;; a;a;a;a; ;a;a;a;a. I smiled when I looked through it because it brought be back to my high school days.
But of course it is the 21st century now, so I cannot expect my children to learn from such an archaic training manual. So I also got them some typing software. It fits right into the 21st century with its flashy graphics and interactive elements. The children travel through different adventures as they type themselves from one island to the next using real words. And it grades their accuracy and speed. Really, it does it all.
Two of my kids have finished the whole program. Alex is a pretty good typist or keyboardist or whatever now. And Jacob has also finished. However, when I noticed him still hunting and pecking as he typed an email to a friend, I asked him why his fingers weren't on Home Row. "It's faster this way," he replied.
Obviously, he doesn't see the big picture. He's only 8. What should I expect? If he would just stick to the program and practice it that way, he would get better. But, no, he'd rather hunt and peck his way through school papers and business reports. That will not do. So I gleefully got out my tried and true typing book. He is not all that happy about typing things like, asas asas asas ddd ddd asd asd, but sometimes doing it the old fashioned way just gets it done.
One last thing: Did you know that the sentence The quick, brown fox jumps over the lazy dog contains every letter in the alphabet? Great for practicing your typing skills. I still remember that one from Typing Class.