Obsolete term: touch typing

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Dec 5 02:42:14 UTC 2002

I just consulted with a native informant, my high school senior
daughter, who is in fact about to take "Computer 1a" this spring.
When my son took the identical course a few years ago, it was called
"Keyboarding".  Maybe the confusion with the musical keyboard led to
the name change, but now it sounds as though it ought to cover other
computer skills (using the internet, upgrading your hard drive,
hacking the Pentagon's system, etc.) instead of...well, touch typing.
The same, or a similar, course here used to be called "Word
Processing", she says.  In each case, students are basically learning
what we (or some of us) learned in our Typing classes, including the
format of business letters.  (I even took the New York State Regents
exam in Typing.)  I fondly recall learning to type faster and faster
to the background of Mozart's Turkish Rondo, a practice probably no
longer employed in such courses.  Maybe they use rap now.

As far as "touch typing" goes, she knew what it means although she
doesn't know how to do it yet (of course if she did, there'd be no
point in her taking the class), but she uses all ten fingers while
peeking, which constitutes an intermediate stage.  I know I went
directly from the hunt-and-peck two-finger method to full touch
typing, but then that was back when there was no incentive to type
quickly outside of school (as there is now to send your friends
infinite numbers of instant messages).

And as far as school requirements go, the local high school requires
a "practical arts" course which can be satisfied by
Keyboarding/Computer 1a or by Cooking.  I'm not sure what the other
options are--something in basic electronics, I believe.  And no, the
others aren't categorized as "impractical arts".


At 1:50 PM -0600 12/4/02, Anne Rogers wrote:
>There still seem to be a lot of people who use the two-fingered "hunt and
>peck" method, which was how my typing teacher in high school referred to it.
>She warned us that we'd never type faster than 35-40 wpm if we didn't learn
>to touch type -- the benchmark to pass a standard typing test (and the
>class) was 55 or 60 wpm, I believe.
>I've often wondered if they still teach typing in high school (or earlier?)
>because there do seem to be a lot of kids who know how -- or maybe they all
>learned on Mavis Beacon software!
>Anne Rogers
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Arnold Zwicky [mailto:zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU]
>Sent: Tuesday, December 03, 2002 9:15 PM
>Subject: Re: Obsolete term: touch typing
>allan metcalf asks:
>  >Maybe there are no two-fingered typists left, to contrast "touch
>  >typing" with?
>not entirely true.  i am such a two-fingered typist.  but then i'm
>pretty old.
>where and when do people learn touch-typing these days?  it does
>seem to be pretty much universal among college kids in the u.s.
>or at least the ones i see.
>arnold (zwicky at csli.stanford.edu)

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