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Thought... - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
After watching a seven year old being baffled over a paper she was expected to type for school (which, first of all, a seven year old does not need to be writing reports yet, but that's not where I'm going), it occurs to me that with more and more emphasis being placed on turning in reports that are properly typed and formatted, it might be a swell idea to teach keyboarding along with penmanship. Here's your ten minutes tracing the letter A, here's your ten minutes practicing tapping keys in a specific order and practice with the shift key. Having a child go from, "Here, trace an 'a'" to "Now, give me a neatly typed three page report on something that happened at home" seems a little unrealistic, even if we were talking about fifth graders actually turning in their first reports. Keyboarding has become more necessary than it once was--shouldn't it be part of the general process of learning necessary writing skills?
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From: lekilitook Date: January 7th, 2007 08:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree with you. It should be part of the curriculum in grade schools. I think some schools already have it in their curriculum, but not all of them do.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 7th, 2007 08:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah--they've got to start treating computers as either luxuries or somehow outside the general scope of things. No "computer class," but training on keyboarding as a general part of education. I'm glad my mother made me take a typing class in high school, as I'd have never gotten through college without it, but now, it's needed a lot earlier. Unfortunately, those tend to be offered as "business prep" courses, meant to be vocational training for people to graduate and become secretaries... while at the same time, everyone is expected to have the knowledge.

It goes without saying that they should also not just assume that kids are actually born knowing how to use them these days, a joke that it appears too many people take seriously.
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: January 7th, 2007 08:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmm. I know I "had to" play Mario Teaches Typing two or three hours a week in third grade study hall, but I didn't actually have a required keyboarding class until my freshman year in high school (I'm now an undergrad, for the record). And by then my bad typing was so thoroughly ingrained that I've never been able to fix it completely.
threnody From: threnody Date: January 7th, 2007 08:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm one of those people who think that as long as you can get the job done, there's not really any 'wrong' way to do it. It drives my mother nuts that I don't type 'properly', but I'm fast and accurate and in the long run how I manage that doesn't really matter.
darkeyedwolf From: darkeyedwolf Date: January 7th, 2007 08:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
A paper due from a seven year old?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 7th, 2007 08:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah. That's the other part of my headdesking. Chances are, if a girl does not yet know what a quotation mark is or what a paragraph is, it's probably, you know, too early for a damned paper.
threnody From: threnody Date: January 7th, 2007 08:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
It really should. I was lucky- when I was seven it was still the days of the mimeo copy, but our school was donated a bunch of computers and started teaching us programming (okay, so it was qbasic, but we are talking about the stone age, here). We had at least some computer experience, even if we didn't need it right then.

In eighth grade, long before most people in my glass even had a computer at home (but after typewriters had gone out of style), they brought in little portable keyboard thingies and taught us to type. Because they knew it would be important in our lives someday.

Maybe schools now think that computers are just so ubiquitous, that these kids have all the experience they need already. Which is stupid.

ratcreature From: ratcreature Date: January 7th, 2007 08:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Is proper typing (like a ten finger touch typing system) even alright for the hands of children that age yet? I know it puts strain on my hands, I couldn't imagine having to do it with smaller hands. I mean, I guess younger children also play piano and such so maybe it is okay, but before demanding that even elementary school children are required to type a lot instead of just learning to write first, I think it should be made sure that it's not harmful.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 7th, 2007 09:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's a really interesting point, which I hadn't thought about. I've never heard of a study one way or the other on it.
ncp From: ncp Date: January 7th, 2007 08:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
A seven year old should not be typing a report. The teacher should require a neatly written report. Keyboarding is an essential skill that should not be taught until the later elementary years. Let the kid learn how to write first.
saeva From: saeva Date: January 7th, 2007 08:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I don't know about others but at the age of 22, I had keyboarding classes from about the time of first grade onwards (and I wasn't required to turn in my first typed report until at least seventh or eighth grade. Of course, it really depends on the school, I imagine, but I'm surprised there's a seven year old in a relatively decently funded area (if the area you work in is such, which I've always presumed it is from the cool activities you've gotten the go-ahead to pull together) is unable to type relatively well, honestly.

- Andrea.
From: jme1374 Date: January 7th, 2007 11:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't know about that. My son will be 7 in a few months, and goes to what I consider to be a pretty good private school (nowhere near Fern), and he can't type well enough to do a report. I consider him fairly computer savvy - he can type some words, and is having a computer class (30 minutes twice a week) at school, and plays educational games on the computer at home.

Now, Fern's 7-year-old may be a grade ahead of my son, but I can't imagine that even in a year his school will be expecting him to type reports, at least not outside of school. (I could see them doing something like the PowerPoint thing someone mentioned above, mostly under the supervision of the teacher.)

I guess my point is that different schools do it differently, but it sounds to me like this 7-year-old that Fern tried to help was being asked to do something beyond her capabilities.
akashasheiress From: akashasheiress Date: January 7th, 2007 08:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
in_a_tizzy From: in_a_tizzy Date: January 7th, 2007 09:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's funny cause I had weekly typing lessons in grade school in the early to mid 90s. I would have thought it would be fairly universal by now. It's definitely a necessary skill these days.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 7th, 2007 09:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'd simply assumed it was until I started working here and the kids looked surprised that I would think anyone had ever taught them to type. Here they are, lifelong computer users, and they're stunned that I can type quickly and with all of my fingers, instead of the hunt-and-peck that they do.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 7th, 2007 09:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Do one year on typing on old fashioned typing machines was compulsory in my school at age 13. One of the most useful things I've ever learned during my school days.

E - L
sixth_light From: sixth_light Date: January 7th, 2007 10:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
I had a pretty thorough keyboard class in third form (first year of college, or...hell, year nine. Which I think is your year eight.) The trouble was that I was fast enough by that time with two finger that I never bothered to pick up touch-typing properly, because it was so frustrating going from really quite fast to very slow. So, yeah, early classes are probably a very good idea - catch bad habits before they start!
dreagoddess From: dreagoddess Date: January 7th, 2007 11:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree that if the kids are going to be expected to turn in typed reports, they should be taught typing skills. However, I think 7 is way too young for that. The emphasis that young should be on handwriting. There are enough people who completely forget how to legibly write once they start typing. If we don't give kids a thorough grounding in it first, that'll get even worse!

I had my first keyboarding class in 6th grade. It was a 6 week program in our Health class, for some reason. (That was kind of the catch-all subject, really.) We had these little freestanding keyboards, kind of like word processors so you could see about a line of type of a little screen. In 7th grade, I took a computer class, but it was about using and basic programming, not typing. Then in high school we had a required 1 semester class in Keyboarding. By then, I could already type faster than the teacher -- 125wpm -- so it was my easiest grade ever. ;)
lstinhpfdm From: lstinhpfdm Date: January 8th, 2007 12:17 am (UTC) (Link)
But expecting 7 year old to learn to touch type with their small hands is a bit much. In my opinion they aren't really physiologically ready till a bit older. And unfortunately when most schools start teaching typing (3rd-5th grades) they usually just plop the kids in from of computer software with minimal adult supervision. No help in the correct placement of the hands were given. My older daughter didn't learn typing very effectively that way.

I help in my 7 year old son's 2nd grade classroom during "computer" time. Some of that time has been teaching the kids very basic computer typing. One assignment was asking the kids to type their first & last name, three times with correct capitalization and spacing. Some kids (my son included) completed this in seconds, while others were clueless and needed quite a bit of help and time.

I do agree it's a bit much to dump them suddenly with a lot of typing. When my daughter was in the 5th & 6th grades (luckily my school doesn't require typed papers till then) I would expect my daughter to type part of her paper herself for the experience/practice and then finish the typing myself.

This really depends on the school and the innovation of the teachers. Some teachers are working on keyboard skills, but computers are still a lot more expensive then pencils and paper. I live in an affluent area in a well off school district and although the school has many computers there aren't enough for every student to have one. All the 1st & 2nd graders classrooms share 30 computers for example.
gabrielladusult From: gabrielladusult Date: January 8th, 2007 12:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Because his academic ability surpassed his writing ability, my son's IEP was written to include allowing him an alpha-smart keyboard to do his written work in school if he couldn't keep up with the handwriting. To support this, we bought some software from Scholastic called "Type to Learn" that teaches children ages 5-7 to type. The reason we knew about it was because the computer teacher at my four year old's pre-school had it. Keyboarding and computer education is starting very young in some places.

How long was this report supposed to be? Even with a healthy amount of keyboarding exposure, my son (who turns seven Wednesday) in no way could write a report. He's still working on sentence structure.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 8th, 2007 04:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, that was another problem. Her handwritten version seemed to be about three pages, so it would have come out maybe a page and a half typed, and that's a whole lot for a little kid to handle.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 8th, 2007 12:23 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm currently in highschool, and I do remember having typing lessons starting in second grade. However, I think it's more important for elementary schools to thoroughly teach handwriting before keyboarding. My school went from basic printing to cursive to typing relatively quickly and (possibly) as a result my handwriting is terrible.
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