Typing Classes

typing is important I’m thinking about skills and how important some skills are for the rest of our lives.

In the summer of my eighth grade year, my parents sent me to typing school. We were going to get our first Macintosh computer (*the* first Macintosh), and my folks had the foresight to say that they wanted me to learn typing before having it. My brother was told the same thing, but he kind of blew off the classes, and spent the entire summer typing the funniest possible things to me while I struggled to keep my fingers on the F and the J keys. Without my brother, I wouldn’t have made it through the tedium of typing, so even though he didn’t learn the skill, his sacrifice got me to where I am.

I type really fast. In the rare times when I’m at an office space for a while, cubicle mates almost always swing by to see if I’m pretending or something. I guess when you type fast, you type loudly. I never hear it, because when I’m typing fast, I’m concentrating.

The thing is: this has gone on to give me a huge advantage over those who can only peck out a few letters at a time and have to stare down at the keys to do so. I am far more proficient, which means that I can get my ideas across much faster. In the real-time web world, that’s obviously a win. But even in the “slow web” world, it’s still a powerful thing to be able to type.

What other skills could I learn that would help me for the rest of my life? Journalists learn how to tell balanced and detailed stories. They learn how to edit down their ideas to tight, concise pieces. Lawyers learn how to weigh potential risks and outcomes. Athletes learn perseverance.

What other skills do you wish that YOU had when considering the rest of your life?

(Oh, and thanks Mom and Dad for insisting that I take typing, and thanks, Thom, for screwing off and making me laugh instead.)

Photo credit wiertz

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  • http://twitter.com/CynthiaOccelli Cynthia Occelli

    Wow, good to know on the spacing thing. Thank you!

    (See how I didn't do it just there?)

  • http://wellontop.com/ Sean Weigold Ferguson

    By far, the two most important skills that have drastically increased my efficiency have been using keyboard shortcuts, and becoming proficient at web search.

    I'm always somewhat amazed when I see people right click, or even worse, select “edit” from the top left of their screen to copy, cut, or paste. I can't help but visualize myself in front of the computer, whizzing away at whatever task they're attempting, now several steps ahead. I often have to restrain myself from saying anything or feeling a bit of frustration. However, nothing else really holds a candle to ctrl+z.

    Regarding searching, boolean (and other advanced search) operators have truly improved my personal effectiveness. Becoming proficient in SEO has also deepened my understanding of information retrieval. I almost never have difficulty quickly finding anything on the web. If it's there, I'll find it.

  • Blastbking

    Just curious, what's your typing speed? I learned to type in elementary school and now I can hit 110 WPM easily.

  • Gunter Marie

    Great post! You reminded me of my (7th grade summer), my mom insisted that I take typing and sewing classes. Learning to type fast became an invaluable asset and in fact landed me my first “real” job as a word processor typing architectural specifications. I know…te-di-ous, but this forced me to read the instructions on how to build a house, or lodging within a national park. It taught me a great deal about the logic of foundation and taking steps. It taught me about structure, design and collaboration. I ultimately found the architecture of clothing (fashion design) to be more my style than building houses. The sewing classes payed off for me too, by helping me to get into fashion design school, where sewing skills were a pre-requisite. My development there interestingly enough, was propelled by the lessons I'd learned about design and construction while typing architectural specs!

    I'm a strong supporter of lifelong skill-building and though I later chose a profession in technology and communications, all these skills — any many more — come to bear in my work. I'm currently engaged in the task of updating my professional skill-set, because somewhere along the road I forgot to keep that as a priority; we all know how fast the realms of technology and communications are changing! Like building a house, or any stable structure, it's one step at a time. The effort we put into developing our skills is always worthwhile because you never know when they're going to be called upon. You may be surprised to find yourself in a situation where the skills you've developed can enhance your life, or the lives of others.

    Thanks for sharing this with us Chris, another great post full of food for thought.

    Marie Gunter

  • http://twitter.com/andrew_murphy Andrew Murphy

    I too took typing grade 8 and 9 and I can type fairly well but should have taken it a little more seriously instead of skipping class once in a while. It is a great skill to have and makes me more productive for sure. Why is that women generally seem to type faster then men though? Another great skill to have is to be a great listener instead of talking all the time.


  • http://www.sueannereed.com Sue Anne Reed

    I took typing as a high school in college, and it's probably the best class I took in my four years in high school. It's definitely been the one that I've been able to apply to the rest of my life.

    I wish I had done better in Spanish and/or retained some of that. I think in today's multi-cultural world (especially here in California), having basic multi-lingual skills are important.

  • http://bokauffmann.com/ Bo Kauffmann

    How true. Reminds me of when I signed up for Grade 10 typing back in the late 70,s. That was well before computers were available, and in an age when calculators were not even allowed in math class. But that typing course was probably the most useful course I ever took.

  • http://twitter.com/WRNMontco WRN Montco

    Great post, which remind me that I didn't do so well in typing class but just learning the correct positions on the keys made it easier in the long run to type much faster. I think sometimes when people look at their careers and how they might advance they look at much bigger items to tackle when taking that continuing education class at the local community college on organizing your desktop or advanced Excel skills might be just the thing to make your work day easier.

  • http://www.workingathomeknowledge.com Chris Pontine

    You know it is quite amazing when you start out because it is so overwhelming trying to find the keys first of all, but second of all to type quick enough to stay in a conversation with someone else.

    Over time though you begin to discuss stuff while typing which mind boggles you because you think back to when you started and how slow you were.

  • http://www.MoneyPowerWisdom.com Dr.Mani

    Me… in 7th grade. Touch-typing FAST is a serious asset. So is frustration-tolerance, an essential art in the stressful field of pediatric heart surgery.

  • http://www.ivanwalsh.com Ivan Walsh

    Hi Chris,

    Three skills I wish i had…

    1. Public speaking
    2. Negotiating skills
    3. Motivating others. I can motivate myself but others…

    PS I learnt shorthand years ago as it can be useful at meetings

  • http://www.kherize5.com Suzanne Vara

    Typing class … I learned on a typewriter. Many I know learned on a computer. Typewriter there is no backspace – just the correct tape, white out or start over. In the groove I type fast. My last test on 100% accuracy was 110 words a minute but there are days when I can barely get out 5 words a minute with no mistakes. Numbers do not matter as if you are in the moment, the fingers walk as fast on the keyboard as if you were talking. When I was in law as a secretary, I would transcribe dictation with my head back and my co -workers around me would say that they thought I was sleeping until they saw words on the screen. Funny now when I am writing a blog like the Who is Your Charlotte, I lean my head back and typed so fast and accurate that I spelled checked it a dozen times. I guess when you are able to put what is in your head down on the keyboard it comes naturally.

    What I wished I learned years ago … nervous talk/babble

  • thomsinger

    I am guilty of the double space thing. But if it is the worst thing I do when writing (it is not) then that is okay.

  • thomsinger

    As for number one… join a Toastmasters Club and commit to attending every week for 2 years. At the end you will look back and say “WOWWY” about how much more comfortable you have become in front of a group. Will it make you a super slick professional… NO. But it will make you more confident and you will remove it from the list above. I have never heard of anyone who needed to improve their speaking skills and participated (note, participated… not joined and did not show up) who thinks it was a waste of time. There are clubs all over the world.. one near you!

  • http://www.vancesova.com Vance Sova

    Hi Chris,

    I too went to a typing class a long time ago and I still use all 10 fingers to type even though I'm not nearly as fast as you are.

    I took the class on my own, I mean nobody make me do it. It was a great experience as most classmates were of the opposite sex and that made me feel both awkward and special. Perhaps I would have thought twice about the classes had I known that I'd be a rarity. But in the end I was glad I didn't know ahead of time.

    The reassøn I took the class was very simple. I wanted to be able to type. Perhaps to one day write a book or just to type short stories which I was until then doing by hand.

    There was no planning involved in taking the typing class. I just went by a place that advertised the classes and in no time I signed up for them. I'm glad I did.

    Any skill like that will serve a person for a lifetime.

    I wish I had taken some computer classes as soon as they were available. It was only many years later that I was attracted to learning about the computer.


  • Marge

    I have my sister to thank for my typing skills. WAY BACK WHEN — she got a Smith Corona typewriter while in high school. I was 8 years younger & dying to use it. She agreed – but only if I learned how to type properly. I became an expert at “The quck brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” and more. Thanks Sis! Who knew that those skills would take me into the computer age…..

  • http://thatbloggerbroad.com Blogger Broad

    My dad insisted I learn to type, too – he said it was an essential business skill, and this was a guy with his own secretary. He typed his own Telex messages at work – Telex, people! I still have his Royal typewriter sitting on top of my office bookcase.

    I wish, though, that I'd (a) gone further with math in high school (stopped at Trig) and (b) taken a foreign language BEFORE college.

  • http://www.DesertMountainHomesOnline.com CarmenBrodeur

    I also took typing classes – it was an option in high school and was probably the best course I took during high school. My parents also had me take public speaking private lessons. That has been incredibly powerful in my career and life. I will definitely sign up my kids when the time comes.

  • http://www.usaugg-shops.com UGG

    ere was no planning involved in taking the typing class. I just went by a place that advertised the classes and in no time I signed up for them. I'm glad I did.

    Any skill like that will serve a person for a lifetime.

    I wish I had taken some computer classes as soon as they were available. It was only many years later that I was attracted to learning about the computer.That has been incredibly powerful in my career and life. I will definitely sign up my kids when the time comes.

  • Kristin

    thanks for the morning smile, Chris.

    I had a similar experience in high school when my best friend suggested I take a typing class with her. “When will I ever need to type?” I recall saying to my parents… who encouraged me to take the class.

    How do I spend much of my day? In front of a computer.!

  • http://twitter.com/WorkingNaked Lisa Kanarek

    Loved your typing story. I couldn't stand my typing teacher but I learned to type fast. The only bad part about typing fast is that I hit the keys too hard. On one of my old Macs, I went through two keyboards! Thanks for the skills reminder.

  • http://www.ivanwalsh.com Ivan Walsh

    Hi Thom,
    You're right. I need to make a promise to myself and keep it! We’re in Beijing and they have them here. Very popular with the local Chinese business people. Time to turn off the PC for a while and get out :)

  • http://www.wordonwiki.com Roland Grey

    Great skill, typing with 10 fingers (both in qwerty and azerty) is something I also learned. (thank you parents). Today's youngsters don't take those classes but I am happy to see my son gets frustrated when his msn friends are 'typing' for 30 seconds, only to spit out a few words.

  • http://twitter.com/gardenofwords Katie Elzer-Peters

    My mom made me take “keyboarding” in high school. I was, maybe, a sophomore? Best class I've ever taken, hands down. I can also type REALLY fast. As fast as I think. That is worth a lot of $$ to me.

  • http://twitter.com/ohradiogirl ohradiogirl

    I took typing in my sophomore year too. I caught on quick and I am so appreciative now. I remember our weekly typing test. I used to be excited about those. I think that my typing could be better, but I know that it is much better than most.

  • http://twitter.com/awesselius Aschwin Wesselius

    I would suggest personal communication skills (what to say to whom), financial basics (what to do with money) and understanding of nutrition (what to eat and why) to anyone. Why? Because these skills make you able to survive in many situations. Also a bit of technical skills come in handy every single day. Most things we use are abstract forms of very simple principles. Try to understand them and gain knowledge about them so you recognize them to your own advantage.

  • http://www.cygnismedia.com Ahmed

    Like most people around my age, I always had a computer growing up (since I was 8). I think however that my typing speed peaked when I was 17-18, at which point I was doing something like 130 wpm. I was a bit surprised when I took an online typing test recently to discover that my speed has fallen to 100 wpm (I haven't taken one of those tests in 9-10 years, since I was 17). I guess it gave me a sense of mortality to discover that my skills were diminishing with age. Anyone else find their typing speed has gone down since back in the day?

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  • http://www.iangilyeat.com/ Elizabeth B.

    When I got bored as a kid, I would put in Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing and just type for hours at a time. Although back then, I was just doing it for fun, I am so grateful I can type now! It saves me so much time while working.

  • http://www.tombentley.com Tom Bentley

    I'm a wizened soul, so I learned to type on a typewriter, which had the added bonus of being able to slam the carriage back—whang!—at the end of a line. Very satisfying. My skills have stayed about the same, which means I still have to chase typos (which is part of what I do for a living, anyway).

    If only it had been a violin (but then again, I would have mixed that up with a typewriter—whang!)

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  • Alexandra Farkas

    I taught myself to type after college by transcribing interviews for an editor I worked for. I learned to type faster because it was so tedius to keep having to rewind the tape.

    The skills I find most useful today are:
    - my table manners – can't be overlooked in social settings
    - the ability to hold a conversation with ANYONE – my dad drilled that into me when I was a kid, and we still report back to one another when we've gone to meetings or weddings and had really absurd ones.
    - the ability to disagree respectfully – I grew up around a lot of quick tempers. I'm stubborn, but even keeled. Learning how to communicate what I want to say and be heard, even if it wasn't what everyone else was saying might be one of the best skills I picked up along the way.

  • http://twitter.com/EventBetty EventBetty

    My dad sent me to learn how to type because he thought I'd become someone's secretary one day. No offence to secretaries but it would have been nice if he had higher hopes for me :-) Anyway it is by far the most useful skill I have learnt being in marketing and writing content for everything from blogs to websites to PR.

    I would have also liked to have learnt (at school not just through research afterward) how to:
    * invest in property from residential to commercial
    * leverage into property
    * do my own taxes
    * write a business/investment plan for VCs
    * understand the share market, how to invest, how to read a p/l – it's a mindfield

  • Thomas F. Scanlon, CPA


    Another Great Post.

    Many years, (about twenty) ago I couldn’t type. I never took typing class in high school or college.

    One day a client called and wanted his financial statements updated and mailed to him. I told him that it would have to wait a few days as our secretary was out. He was upset to say the least. He screamed in the phone, “You can’t type…that is unacceptable.” Then he hung up.

    I got the message. I pickup the computer disk of Mavis Bacon Teaches Typing. I lugged home a 286 from my office and put it on my dining room table. They I typed and typed and typed.

    Fortunately for me, this story has a happy ending. This client has become one of my best clients and friends. And, oh, I learned how to type.


    Thomas F. Scanlon, CPA, CFP®

  • http://mediamahout.wordpress.com/ Roselle Cronan

    I learned how to type on a manual typewriter in eighth grade. I probably still type loudly when I go fast, but it's worthwhile knowing that I have that skill. I thought about learning shorthand years ago, but when I was told it would ruin my spelling, I passed on that. I did learn over time how to take really good notes, which came in handy when I worked as a journalist.

  • http://twitter.com/eduardodx Eduardo Dx

    I've learnead how to type pretty much the same way. And other very important skill for a lifetime is analysing. With this skill we can develop a bunch of other skills.

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QD6SSJE3JCMH3P7QUOGNKR65UM Michele Heine

    I took typing lessons the summer before high school too so I could type on a typewriter faster in high school. I went on to become a Computer Science major so those typing lessons were a big advantage. I wanted my son, who just finished his first year of high school, to take them too so he could excel beyond his current hunt and peck method. Of course my kids grew up with computers in their hands so there isn't the learning curve we had. Besides, I don't think they offer typing classes for summer in our school district.

  • Tania Shipman

    Chris, I finished high school owning a type writer but never having done a typing class. I then trained as a secretary and finished with typing speeds of 130wps with 98% accuracy. I've used my typing skills every since and I prefer to type something then write it down. I watch some of my fellow workers use the hunt and peck method and it's painful to watch. 3 years ago at a conference I took the notes as people were talking and I had so many come up afterwards asking 'how could I do that'. It takes practice and continue use to keep up your skills and that applies to anything you learn. The saying use it or lose it is true. Now I have blogs and social media and I keep up because I can type fast. That's not all you need to be able to write – you need to have something to say but if you can type as you think, it does make it easier.
    My son can type because he's owned a computer most of his life but if you aren't a fast typist then take the opportunities on the net and from programs to learn.

    Some of skills I wish I had if I was starting out again. Know how to fill in a tax return, how to budget and time management. I was lucky in that I was a fast reader since a kid and because I am shy my parents got me involved with Toastmasters Australia to help with speaking in public.

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  • Arun

    Typing skill is a very important skill like one knowing driving and swimming. Parents also should make their kids to learn the art of touch typing, as this skill will be used throughout their life.
    Happy typing……

    ……. Worlds No.1 typing expert and Limca Book Record holder
    H.M.Arun Kumar