Typed Shorthand

Latest obsession: Typed Shorthand

No, I’m not abandoning Gregg, which is a pen version. Not making great progress, but not abandoning it. I like it, and pen and paper are more convenient than a computer.

Meanwhile, Son’s teacher has started him using an AlphaSmart Dana. His handwriting will never be good enough for him to compose with, and he now needs to write longish passages. He can dictate them reasonably well, but if he has to write them, he shuts down. With it, at least when it was new, his output was 5x the volume. A few weeks later, though, and it’s no longer new and fascinating. Still, the fact that he did it for a while is promising.

We bit the bullet and ordered one. The school’s IT department says he can print from it without networking (which is a risk to their system). The principal agrees with us that it will increase the school’s resources rather than being an unfair advantage for the rich kid. After watching him use it at home, I’ll even let him use spellcheck — he consciously uses it, and looks for the right word. He’s also aware that “doe snot” passes spellcheck. When writing by longhand, it’s such a struggle to get things down, and even he can’t read the results, that spelling is totally skipped.

Some have tried converting Gregg to a typed form, but I’m not thrilled with the result. Yes, Gregg has fewer than 26 shapes, but they don’t line up well to English letters. There are two forms for a few sounds, and which one you use counts.

This summer, we’ll resume the printing practise. For some things, the AlphaSmart doesn’t make sense, like math problems. For now, though, we’re letting him use the computer for everything at home. Yesterday he even tried BBC’s DanceMat Typing.


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