Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Are Typing Skills Really Necessary?

One of the projects I’ve been working on this past year is a book about the experiences of a man named Ralph who grew up in Estonia and experienced the tragic repercussions of World War II. We used to get together and listen to classical music as he told these incredible stories that I eventually turned into an unproduced Hollywood screenplay. He had become a cripple by falling off a fencepost when he was three so that he had a withered leg, but an ambitious heart. Because he was unable to be active like his peers while growing up he developed a fondness for libraries and also claimed to be the second fastest typist in Estonia. I can’t verify this last claim but I can assure you that his story is remarkable.

The first story Ralph enticed me with was about how learning other languages saved his life. Ultimately he had numerous scrapes with death in his efforts to escape the crippling effects of life behind the Iron Curtain. A rough draft of my novella-length book, titled Uprooted, is currently on the back burner behind a few other projects. The alternate title that I toyed with carries the intrigue of his claim to have been The Second Fastest Typist in Estonia.

I mention all this because I wanted to write briefly about typing. It’s a new world and typing is no longer a non-essential skill. It’s the 21st century, friends. We’re way past the dawn of the age of communications. With a billion people on Facebook and all of academia pushing students to online discourse, the development of typing skills is nearly as essential as breathing.

There was a time when even literacy was not a necessary survival skill. In the developed world today reading and writing skills are assumed, and when job-seekers read want ads many of these will outline even the software programs that are now a requirement for these openings.

I recently heard someone say that with the advent of voice recognition software typing will become a thing of the past. I'm willing to wager that this won't happen in my lifetime, and it won't happen in your children's either. In a country where we have difficulty even feeding a large swath of the population it is hard to imagine there that everyone will own computers with voice-recognition software.

It takes time to learn how to type well, but there's a payoff in having this skill. Just as the ability to write well is empowering so, too, is the ability to type well. Typing well is more than just being a fast typist. The essential thing is accuracy.

For home school teachers who want to help their children become faster and better on a keyboard there are plenty of software programs out there that can assist. Do a little research first though. Make sure it's compatible with your operating system. And, if available, read reviews of others' experiences, especially with tech support if there's a complication.

I myself am grateful that my mom had me take that typing class in high school. As a grad present I received my first typewriter, which proved invaluable when I attended college. I love the QWERTY keyboard.

Write on.

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