Learning Type

by Colin Berkshire

In what grade to students learn how to type correct, quickly, and accurately?

The answer is “none.” We don’t teach this in most schools.

I find it very difficult to believe that we don’t teach typing in kindergarten and 1st grade. I can’t think of why not. our children would learn the alphabet, they would start spelling words and forming sentences, and they would get comfortable writing things.

We place a lot of emphasis on singing, which is admittedly a life-long skill. We place a lot of emphasis on coloring, which is important, I guess, although I was never any good at it. And, my gosh, learning the pledge of allegiance is something no first grader should miss.

But we don’t ever teach kids how to type correctly and accurately.

We don’t teach kids about the world. We don’t teach kids about interest rates and credit, and finance, even though nothing will impact them more in their entire life, or enslave them more.

We don’t ever force every kid to write a 10-line computer program, but we will suffer them through music and sports.

When a child learns to write he learns about fairies and imaginary friends and magic. But there isn’t much effort to teach how an apple tree grows, or to teach about money, or how to fix your own computer.

My experience is that very young children can learn very practical things. By the 1st grade they can learn to fix a computer, they can learn how to cook, they can learn how to crimp a Cat-5 wire, and they can learn how to calculate a margin.

I find it remarkable how kids in China and other countries have a great practical working knowledge of managing money in a shop, or in how to manage customers. In Thailand, I saw a 10 year old boy with his grandfather up on a latter on a telephone pole. The kid was splicing fiber optic strands in a cable. These kids aren’t coddled.

In the US, kids this age are still singing sesame street songs (“I love you, you love me”) and saluting the flag and playing war.

Am I alone on this? Or, do we perhaps have our priorities just plain wrong? Would it hurt a kid to bake a cake or splice a fiber optic strand?

Should’t we teach kids how to type?