My education had to stop when I was 15 as our single parent and elderly person household was not able to manage without a little more income.
In preparation for NOT going to 6th form at the Ilminster Girls’ Grammar School, I was advised by my head teacher (wonderful but scary woman) to take typing and shorthand lessons and get some sort of qualification suitable for a working class young woman of slender means.
I remember the strain of carting my typewriter – similar to that in the photograph – across Chard, typing for the evening and then carrying it back home. I did get both 25 and 35 wpm RSA typing certificates. Shorthand – it didn’t happen. English is a struggle and being dyslexic and dyspraxia means that any symbols do not dig themselves into my memory very well. It was the same with music theory…
However, I am very glad indeed that I did get typing lessons as well as exercise for my bicep muscles. Touch typing is a great skill to have in this computer age. Upgrading to 60 wpm audio typing also got me a job when I desperately needed to put groceries on the table. That speed wasn’t achieved on an upright typewriter I hasten to add!
Computers have also supported me in my quest in my mid forties to upgrade my education. Various software programmes have helped me organise myself, remember things and be able to get my thoughts out in some semblance of clarity. Although being rather unhinged when numbers and arithmetic come into things, I took like a duck to water on the software for analysing social sciences data and I loved the graphics I could produce to visually explain my findings. Nowadays, I can even speak into the computer and it types up my words (although my lingering Somerset accent with soft consonants and broad vowels gives it a few puzzles…). I still prefer to type though – I don’t misunderstand myself.
Out of need, in my late twenties, I learned the therapeutic value of writing out my frazzled emotions and tangled thoughts. In the last five years or so my fingers and hands have decided to become tiresomely lacking in strength making it difficult for me to keep my hand-written journals. Hyper-mobile joints with lax tendons and ligaments rather than arthritic stiffness is the problem apparently. I have adjusted to writing my journal notes straight onto a keyboard with those touch typing skills coming into their own yet again.
I must admit that am glad that I do not have to haul a huge upright typewriter around with me anymore. It was hard when I was a teenager let alone now I am approaching my mid-sixties! I have a smallish bag with my iPhone, iPad, Bluetooth keyboard, various chargers and wifi equipment.
I remain grateful for the advice given to my 15 year old self, although I don’t think my head teacher expected me to go any farther than the typing pool and certainly not to a doctorate and private psychology practice!