Story by R. Bryan M.D.
When I was in high school, there was no internet. There was no e-mail. Cell phones were the size of a shoe box, and all that could be done on them was to make a phone call. I played with my mother's typewriter as a child, but I didn't like it. It was manual. I had to punch each key very hard just to create a light mark on the paper.
The public school I attended had a special deal for seniors. If your grades were good, you could take an open campus study hall as a senior. The "open campus" meant the student did not need to be at school for the study hall. What a treat! We could take an open campus study hall as the first class of the day, and sleep in. We could take an open campus study hall as the last class of the day and go home early. We could take an open campus study hall before or after lunch, and have an extended lunch break. Yes!
I chose my classes for my senior year, and was careful to take maximum advantage of an open campus study hall. The school required that a parent sign each student's choice of classes and schedule. I brought my schedule home for the nuisance of obtaining the required signature.
As I came in the front door, my father was the first one I saw. I handed him my senior class schedule and told him I needed him to sign it.
"What's this?" he asked.
"It's my schedule of classes for this year. The school wants you to sign it."
He looked at the courses I had chosen.
"I don't see typing on here."
"Dad... I don't want to take typing. I have my schedule all worked out. Please just sign it."
"Computers are the future. I'm not signing this until you have typing on here."
Doomed. I was doomed. I didn't want to drop any of my other classes. I needed many of them in order to graduate. With great reluctance, I dropped my treasured open campus study hall. For my senior year, I sat in a class full of students and electric typewriters, and learned to type. The only bright side was that most of the other students were girls.
In college, medical school, and residency, I didn't need to type all that much. After residency, I got my first credit card, and bought my first computer. It was amazing! You can do a lot with these things! (The computer, not the credit card.) Thoughts can flow from my fingers faster and more legibly on a keyboard than with a pen. I was able to write booklets, missionary newsletters, e-mails, professional looking postal letters, computer programs, and a variety of other things, all with no effort!
As the U.S. government forces more computerization on the medical field, I find I am one of the few doctors my age who are able to easily adapt. The other day, I was typing in orders on a computer at work. One of the ambulance medic's exclaimed, "Dr. Bryan! You're typing, but you're not looking at the keyboard or the computer screen!"
I have had the pleasure of working with a certain woman who is quite a bit older than I. Years ago, she was a little girl living in London during World War II. She remembers seeing St. Paul's Cathedral, surrounded by smoke and fire, during a German bombing raid. She remembers adults around her looking at the same sight, and crying. She said, at the time, she could not understand what they were crying about. That same scene, of St. Paul's Cathedral, surrounded by smoke and flame, is one of the highly recognized photographs of World War II.
After World War II, she pursued a career as a secretary. She learned to type on those same manual typewriters I disliked as a child.
When I worked with her, she was in her 80's. She did not want to stop working. She said her typing skills have allowed her to continue working in an office, long after others her age had to quit working because they could not type on a computer.
The ability to type has become a basic skill in our modern society. Please do not neglect this important skill in your child's education. After all, I typed what you just read.