Typing has become what almost everyone does, everyday, for most things. From texts and emails to the online submission of assignments, proposals, and sundry other documents, typing is central to our mechanisms of communication.
In this climate, it’s no surprise teaching cursive writing is being phased out and the teaching of typing or keyboarding is being added. While there are objections to this change, for valid reasons including the need for a secure signature, it’s hard to dispute the need for skill at typing.
Anne Trubek, PhD, in the New York Times opinion article titled “Handwriting Just Doesn’t Matter,” posits that our need to hang onto handwriting is a cultural issue. She then reminds us that what we are holding onto is the results of hundreds of years of change. The current primacy of typing is just the most recent step in that evolution.
There are benefits to the focus on typing skill that go beyond our daily engagement with technology. Trubek points out that the ability to type without looking at your fingers leaves the composer’s mind free “to focus on higher-order concerns, such as rhetorical structure and word choice.” For students, as high stakes testing continues to move online, this results in their constructing and sharing complex and organized thoughts in the available time. In others words, it helps students show what they know when it counts.
So, let’s focus on typing instruction. It’s clear our students can benefit from this in the short and long term.