When I was in high school way back in the turbulent 1980s, like most teenage boys I knew everything. Or at least I thought I did. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t a good student, it just means I was smart enough to know what I needed to study, and what I thought I could coast through.
Math, grammar, history and science all fell into my “I should learn that” category. Music, art, speech, French and theater fell into the “I want to know that” group. Then there were the things I thought “I don’t need to know that.” At the top of that list was typing class.
Here was my thinking, and I know it was chauvinist and misogynistic, but I was 15, so give me a little slack. I knew I was going to grow up and become an important business man; well-respected, highly paid, and most importantly, I would have a lovely secretary sitting just outside my office, ready to type up any letters I might need. Why would I need to know how to operate an IBM Selectric with a piece of paper over my hands? That was clearly a skill I would not need. Right there on the list with square-dancing and small engine repair, I would not need these skills later in life.
Jump ahead a few years and I found myself in college hunting and pecking my way through philosophy essays. Jump again to my first job out of college, I was writing letters and memos and client call reports with the hunt and peck method on, you guessed it, an IBM Selectric.
Within a few years I had a personal computer on my desk. Then add a laptop, a smartphone and an iPad and I spend eight, ten, maybe fourteen hours a day with some form of keyboard in front of me. I guess I should have listened to Mrs. Kincheloe and learned proper posture, where all of the keys are at and what a QWERTY is, but I didn’t. Damn hindsight!
Now I see these young people who can type without looking at their fingers and I am filled with envy. By the way, this post took me twenty minutes to write, but three and half hours to type. Thank God for spell check or I wouldn’t be done yet.