The Missing Skill

There’s a skill that I was taught nearly 30 years ago, which over the intervening years has saved me literally years of wasted time. It’s a skill that is completely missing from the current National Curriculum in England, and indeed the new draft curriculum. But it’s a skill that both teachers and students need to use on a daily basis. Indeed, the further we move into the future, the more valuable and vital this skill will become. It’s a skill that is crucial in the vast majority of workplaces as well, and yet we completely fail to include it within the world of education.

When I’m in the classroom, and I show my students this skill, they are totally astounded. Comments range from: “How do you do that miss?” to “Miss, that’s like, magic innit?” They simply cannot believe that it’s possible, and yet it’s a relatively easy skill to learn. Like most skills, it just takes a bit of practice and commitment to get the hang of it. And the more you do it, the better and faster you become, until you can do it without even thinking. A handful of UK schools teach this skill, but the vast majority do not.

It’s a skill that I’m using right now, as I create this blog entry for Pedagoo. Have you guessed what it is yet? A couple more clues … I can do it at a speed of about 80, while those people who haven’t learned the skill can only go at a speed of about 8. So, that means I’m ten times as fast at this skill than someone who cannot do it. If you have mastered this skill, you can do it at the speed of thought. If you haven’t mastered this skill, then your thinking processes (and those of your students’) will be slowed right down.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? And yes, you’ve probably guessed by now, that I’m talking about touch-typing. There are various ways to learn. There’s the old fashioned way I was taught, which in those days involved a book of exercises, an hilariously huge BBC computer or even (gasp!) a typewriter. But these days a quick Google search will bring up software options suitable for schools, such as the ‘Englishtype’ programme. I recently bought my own children a Pokemon DS ‘Learn Touch Typing’ Game, with wireless keyboard included, which would work brilliantly in a school environment and which is great fun.

So this blog post is a plea to all you technologically minded teachers out there, to seriously consider teaching this skill in your schools. My ‘missing skill’ might not make it into Gove’s controversial new curriculum, but that doesn’t mean you can’t teach it in your classroom. Your children will thank you in their digital future, I promise.

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