Home > Uncategorized > Why Aren’t Children Taught to Touch-Type at School?

Why Aren’t Children Taught to Touch-Type at School?

Interesting article at the Telegraph asking why don’t we teach touch-typing at school these days.

I think the short answer is because the school system hasn’t worked out how to add computer skills into the Dickensian curriculum and approach to learning we’ve embraced.

Firstly, I think touch-typing vs typing are two different skills. Touch typing and the QWERTY keyboard used in English speaking countries were developed to deal with the limitations of the typewriter and the mechanical innards of it. Therefore, you needed to be able to push down hard with your pinky fingers to press the ‘p’ key on to the page. It was also important to spread the keys around so we didn’t have multiple levers clashing in midstream.

This all changed with the electric typewriter and the computer keyboard. We don’t need to type with even pressure and we don’t have to worry about our pixels crashing into one another as we type. I can’t see the QWERTY layout being changed as it’s now the de facto layout and the world has invested too much time and effort in learning it to dispense with it. There is a significant difference between a computer keyboard and a typewriter keyboard though. Touch typists are trained to use the main keys, i.e. everything in the center of a computer keyboard, but it’s only around 40 keys; 26 letters, space, tab, return, comma, period, shift and 10 number keys. Computer keyboards typically have 110 keys and most applications use them so keeping your fingers on the ‘home keys’ makes it far more difficult to use the function keys, other symbol keys, the numeric keypad or the cluster of keys between the two pads.

I used to conduct typing tests for the new typists that started and while many could type ordinary text quickly and much faster than I could, a self-taught typist, their speed tailed off significantly when obscure symbols were entered into the fray such as @, _, #, [, ], { or }. As my typing skills here honed on all of these symbols it was second nature to me.

Therefore, typing is a skill we should teach our children at school, possibly in our English Language skills but touch-typing is a little out-dated for some computer tasks.

I also think we need to expand this subject a little and look at how we teach computer skills at school in general. In my daughter’s computer class she uses word processing software and arts packages. She also uses the Internet for various projects but I despise schools that teach Windows, Word, Excel or PowerPoint.

Firstly, we shouldn’t be teaching kids how to use the products from a single manufacturer, it’s like taking your kids to McDonalds Play Place and then being surprised when they grow up to like Big Macs. Microsoft offers discounted software to schools and students because they want to get you hooked. Children should be taught basic computer skills like using a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation software and illustration packages but they should be blended into other classes. For example, word processing is taught in English Language class because it’s a tool for writing just like a calculator is a tool for helping with Maths. Spreadsheets could be taught in Maths class, Art or Design could use illustration packages, scanners and CAD. Presentation software could be taught in Drama or Life Skills classes.

Computer class can then be left to programming, databases, OS issues such as file copying, security, phishing and other more computer-centric topics.

The school system around the world is currently teaching computer skills in Computer Studies class. Nobody is actually teaching the next generation of programmers or technical support staff, they’re simply making everybody a Microsoft lemming that can only word process in Word.

In 30 years of computer classes at school we seemed to have achieved very little.

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