English Lessons, Touch Typing and Speed Tests

It’s funny how I was taught to touch type at School, it was a proper Pitman exam. I chose typing since it might set me up with a job when I left school and I couldn’t leave quickly enough. I thought that being a secretary might be an interesting job. It would also be useful as technology progressed to learn how to use a computer, if I knew where the keys were then it might give me a head start. Back then there were very few computers in school. Although there was one in the technical drawing classes which I also chose. Those were for the CAD design element pf the course and my enjoyment of that particular class has stayed with me. The architect within straining at the leash to get out there despite my lack of tutoring. But for the Pitman typing exam, the very fierce teacher walking around the desks, where our knuckles were wrapped with a ruler if we looked down at the keyboard. Our typewriters tapping loudly in an otherwise silent room. It is odd, how my thoughts return to that exam, so many years ago.

I passed I was pleased to say, I guess that may be why I am happy to type most things these days. With the invention of the computer and my preferred tool, the laptop since then I find it much easier.
My first PC was an ancient discarded one which had been thrown out at work as they upgraded computers, I asked for that one to use at home, since I could not afford to buy one back then. Over time I did my own upgrades to it, with more capacity and as parts were worn out and as time went on, replaced bits of it. For the past ten years I have used a laptop at home. I decided that if we travelled, we could take it with us, it was small, which meant I could put it away when not in use, since having moved from a relatively big place to a small one by then, space was at a premium. I also found that having worked on a PC all day, using a mouse caused considerable strain upon my already weak wrists in the evening also, so I thought that using a laptop, where the mouse is positioned differently under the keyboard would hurt less. I was right about that and so I began to use it more and more at home.

From time to time I think about my typing speed. Previously having worked as a Secretary and PA it is often a requirement for you to be able to type more than a certain amount of words per minute, and since I am writing more and more now, I would hope that my speeds are improving, but I haven‘t ACTUALLY checked that. I thought about doing an up to date test just to see where I am, but the idea is that you just keep typing until your minute is up. This has always been a problem for me. I like to get it right first time. If I make a mistake, then I find that I immediately go back to correct the word or grammar, instead of continuing onward to the end as you are supposed to.
It sits there annoying me from the page and I cannot get past it, stealing my concentration from the next point. As I type this, however quickly it may be, I find myself correcting as I go once again. Oh to be so carefree as being able to continue and do it all later. I don’t always spell check straight away as a rule. It depends what I am typing and whether it has any of the wiggly lines which mean that something is wrong. If it doesn’t then I am lulled into a false sense of security, sometimes only to find that I may have missed out a word or something of that ilk. I know you are supposed to write first and edit later.

In my English classes as a student, I was always getting told to write it all first as a draft, then a second to edit it followed by the final draft which I would then present. I must admit, I found that difficult, I tended to write just the first, edit it as I went and present the final one. But it seemed to work for me and my brain would move onto the next task, without dwelling upon what I had done. I didn’t like the endless repeat once I had written something I wanted to get it right as soon as possible and on to the next bit. Those words of Mrs Lennox, my English teacher are still rattling around my head often as I write today. She was a tough one who seemed to have a heart of stone , to match her steel grey crop and stare and was universally disliked. I was unfortunate to have her as a teacher of English, in three of my five secondary years. But Mrs Lennox demanded respect and she taught well, she was harsh but you listened to her, or else…. In the last year as I studied for my exams however Mrs Jackson who replaced her, was even worse, Like a drill sergeant, she looked like one and stalked around, took an instant dislike to me and despite my being in the highest set for all of my secondary years, she wanted to throw me out of the exam 3 months before I took it. This was back as GCSE’s had come in to replace the old exams, the whole of the new ones were built on coursework, which was evaluated at the end of a two year period. I had suffered head injuries in a road accident at thirteen which left me with crippling headaches on top of the Endometriosis which had started but I did not actually know I had back then, so I had spent rather a lot of time off school sick with migraines which would sometimes last for ten days at a time. I begged with her to allow me to take the Language and Oral exams, since she told me that I could not, she told me that I had no hope of passing the exams and that she had no time to give me, so I may as well give up. I refused to give up on something that I had been best at for most of my school life. I told her that I was not bothered about reading and deciphering literature (she wasn’t impressed since that was clearly her favourite part) asking her instead to give me the Language assignments to finish at home and for two months I sat up late into the night to work on them, whilst she goaded me in every class telling me that I would not finish them. I think it was her attempt at making me do it. I was determined that she did not get the better of me and I would have it and marched in to see her the morning it all had to be handed in. Having had only two hours sleep, I asked her that since I had done what I promised I asked her to do one thing for me that she would mark it as though it was someone else‘s work, not mine. She looked shocked, since I had hit the nail right on the head, I knew she disliked me and it was out there in the open. I got a pass, not a great grade, but a pass nonetheless in both the Oral and Language exams.

As I contemplate whether I should try and re-train my brain, to allow me to continue right up to the end of the minute, without tracking back. Just to see what the score would be, it occurs to me, “Do I really need a job which tells me that I must be able to type a minimum of 60 words per minute?” I can touch type, which is far more than a lot of the secretaries I have seen in the last ten years, I can also audio type, “What is that?” I have been asked by several of the same ladies. I speed write when I make notes, so there is no need for shorthand either. These requirements of the position now seem rather outdated along with high heels and a short skirt, although many bosses still demand this attire in their domain.
I think I will wait to do the re-training for speed will have to take a back seat, whilst I have writing to do, it’ll all be alright in the end.

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India Blue is a creative person, who enjoys writing, photography and artwork in this blog. All creative content unless credited elsewhere within is that of the Author and remains the copyright of IndiaBlue.co.uk

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