I had a friend in college who took all of her notes in short hand. She worked as a typist during her summers, so she leveraged the skills she used on the job to get through college. She took notes in short hand, then came back to the dorm every afternoon and transcribed them into real words. To study for exams, she then reread all her hand written notes. She was a straight ‘A’ student, no wonder. She ended up reading her notes at least three times before each exam, on top of her regular studying. She eventually learned to be a stenographer to make more money, and graduated from college with a double major.
This old stenograph made me think of her. We see this now as ‘old school’ and yet a version of it is in use in courtrooms across the land. Typing is a skill we all use in this computer age, yet some are better at it than others. I would fall into that ‘other’ category. I never learned to type in a classroom. I refused. When I went through high school teachers and counselors told me I needed to learn to type to be able to get a good job…which was code for women need to type so they can be secretaries. My brothers never got the typing lecture.
When I graduated from college and needed a job, the first question I was always asked was can I type? When my answer was not really, the hiring managers – usually men – were befuddled. It was as if they didn’t know what to do with a young, female, college graduate who did not have good typing skills. I thought I had made a big mistake in not learning to type, yet it ended up serving me well. By not knowing what to do, they put my cheery disposition and ability to talk to anyone into the customer service, call center area. That path led me to where I am today…all because I didn’t learn to type. It was a choice I made and it ended up impacting my life pretty deliberately.
Do I type ok, sure. Can I get along with a keyboard, pretty well. Do I misspell words in this blog, or course. However I can communicate and share my ideas, and I am a huge fan of spell check. The old school skills are important, and they help us create a solid foundation for our life and future. But they are not everything. When people want to succeed, they will find a way. They will do whatever it takes to reach their goals, and then some. Old school doesn’t mean out of date, it means previous technology…which led the way to where we are today. I am glad I never spent time in typing class. I am happily living with my choice…and give thanks for the technology of spell check each and every day.