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OK, so it’s not rocket science…

On one side of the classroom, students are typing on Chromebooks — distractions abound: cell phones, social media, videos. On the other side, students are working at typewriters, and the chatter of the mill abounds. Typists, immersed in their work, press on with ideas, and page after page flies off the machines: one draft, two drafts, three drafts.

One of my students initially looked confused as she prepared to work at a typewriter. “How do you insert the paper?” After a brief demonstration, she replied: “OK, so it’s not rocket science.” And then the words, the ideas, began to flow…

It’s not “rocket science,” but innovation in education is sometimes elusive. We have new technologies, but few good ideas. At a subject-area meeting in my school district, one teacher commented: “Why do we buy books anymore? Students can read PDFs on their Chromebooks.” They can, but should they?

Right now, the bell has rung… students are pouring out of the classroom… the typists remain…

© 2018, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

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A better way to type…

Humans have been trying to invent a better way to type since the dawn of the typewriter. Four-finger, eight-finger, and, now, roll-over… According to BBC News a method employed by gamers — pressing a subsequent key before releasing another — will dramatically increase your typing speed (see article here). But experts question whether the method is worth learning. Likely, your “fast” fast enough.

Over the years I’ve watched my students type in many ways: hunt-and-peck, touch-touching (looking or not), one-finger, two-finger, etc. Certainly, how you type impacts how you think/communicate. When I was ready to begin my (short) career as a journalist, I consciously set out to learn touch typing. I wanted my ideas and words to flow unimpeded, and I mastered the art in one or two months.

One of my colleagues, who served as a typist in the Navy, can type and talk at the same time. It is an astonishing thing to view. I can do it briefly. (Generally, I’m finishing a thought that I intend to type while beginning a conversation — sometimes I’m just ignoring you, tossing in an “uh, huh” or “yeah” intermittently.)

Questions over the QWERTY arrangement persist, but nearly any arrangement will serve once it has been learned. The real question is if we can ever type as fast as we can think. How fast is a thought? And how are thoughts shaped by how we write? With a pen and paper, I can write all over the page, all over the text. On a typewriter, the thoughts flow in linier fashion. On a computer, backwards and forward (“backspace deletes”). Each thought is shaped by the process.

There is some speculation that voice-to-text will ultimately replace typing (the BBC News article posits 2022), and that is likely. Already, we use voice dictation for text messages (my colleagues exchange entire essays via text), and we navigate our “smart” homes via voice.

One day, perhaps, we will all be sitting in cafes talking to ourselves.

 

© 2018, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

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Very senatorial…

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© 2018, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

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