2005-12-28 / Editorial

District should teach keyboarding if teachers require typed homework

You can’t expect a child to type an essay if you don’t teach them how first. If middle

and elementary school teachers in the Williamsville Central School District are requiring their students to hand in typed homework assignments or make class presentations using Power Point, then the district should provide those same students with classes that teach those skills.

Recently, the Williamsville Board of Education hashed out this very subject, but came to no real decision — only asked district staff to continue to look into it.

The conundrum here is this: The school day is already chock full of required subject matter. Where would the district find time to squeeze in a 45 minute session on typing or keyboard familiarity?

We don’t have the answer. But one thing is for sure, keyboard familiarity should not come at the cost of art and music.

We question why teachers in the lower levels are even requiring students to type homework. While most youngsters these days are familiar with computers, many don’t understand or know the ins and outs of typing. They don’t know the correct placement of their hands or in what the order the letter keys are located.

We can only imagine how painful it is for a parent to watch as their third or fourth grade student “hunt and pecks” out the keys. Some district officials have said parents are actually typing the assignments for students, which isn’t the best thing either.

Keyboarding is a way of life for most adults. And most school districts, including Williamsville, offer a class at the high school level. We see no problem with requiring high school students to hand-in typed assignments. But requiring it of students in younger levels without proper teaching or guidance is unacceptable.

The district should either required teachers to instruct students on keyboard familiarity or cease demanding students type homework. You would not expect someone to speak a foreign language without at least giving them the basics or a dictionary.

There are many suggestions — Keyboarding could be offered through Community Education classes or as an after school activity. Those students who become proficient, could then type homework assignments.

Whatever the answer, we believe that to require something of students that has not been taught to them is unfair and not conducive to a good learning environment.

The district needs to work this out. Even though computers are common place now, teachers can’t expect young students to know how to type proficiently enough to hand in homework assignments in that format.

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