[Frank Bruni and I share an alma mater — UNC-Chapel Hill. I enjoy his columns. His account of learning touch typing at age 17 mirrors my own experience. One semester of typing class in the tenth grade has served me well. I can type fast like Bruni can. I can stare into space and record conversation in real time. Or capture my thoughts almost faster than I can think them — not always a good thing! My little Corona electric portable followed me everywhere. The transition from typewriters to computers was effortless. The QWERTY keyboard is like an organic extension of my fingertips. I seem to be a minority of my gender in the skill, however. Most of the men I’ve known are hunt-and-peckers. I confess to one failure to adapt lately: I can’t get used to using my thumbs to type on my smart phone! What follows is Bruni:]
And my typing was so very good because my typing was so very correct. I often hear, in these pedagogically permissive times, that there are many routes to solving a problem or mastering a task, and that’s true. But sometimes there really is a right way, and it’s learned through complete submission and unquestioning practice.
The emphasis today is often different, Twenge said: “Do it your own way, everybody’s unique, there are no rules.” It can feed a runaway individualism. My mother, long gone, was all for adventure and personal expression, but she was also for drudgery and humility, and I bet that she trusted secretarial school to acquaint me with both. I’d have plenty of time later to jet off to faraway lands. First, I should sit still and train my fingers to fly.
(Frank Bruni, “What I Learned in Secretarial School,” NYTimes)
[Copyright (c) 2018 James Mansfield Nichols. All rights reserved.]