Self-Discipline, Typing, and Middle School

Typing as a mindset lesson

Innovative Arts took over for the old middle school technology class. The part of that class was keyboarding. Students spent most of their time keyboarding. Sadly, most of the middle school kids did not have great keyboarding skills. Even though they spent a ton of time practicing, they didn’t gain very much skill.

It is hard to motivate middle schoolers to practice typing earnestly. Over half of the 8th-grade students, after three years of practice, were still hunting and pecking.  I remember learning how to type, at first it is just easier to look at the keyboard to find the keys. It takes a lot of self discipline to go back, slow down, and learn the home row. You have to go slow to go fast. It is a lesson that every kid needs to learn.

Just think: to look at your keyboard while you are typing, you have to:

  • engage your eye muscles to look down
  • focus your eyes on the keyboard
  • recognize where you are looking at the keyboard
  • figure out where on the keyboard you need to look
  • move your eyes there
  • refocus your eyes
  • recognize where your fingers are
  • figure out where to move them
  • send the message to your muscles to move
  • watch them move
  • feel the key being pressed
  • move your eyes back up to the screen
  • refocus your eyes
  • find where you are on the screen
  • move your eyes to the correct spot on the screen
  • refocus your eyes on the screen.

Whew. It is obviously better to just know where the correct button is and hit it automatically.

Keyboarding is a unique opportunity to learn about how our brains work and see how their’s can grow. Typing.com starts with the home row. The first lesson is “F” “J” and Space. Kids can learn those keys without looking down. If they have the self-discipline to go through the lessons without looking down, they’ll learn where all the keys are.

If they have self-discipline.

This it the toughest thing to convey in middle school. It is better to redo that lesson than to move on to the next. Many kids have never thought this way. Every year we start all over with the lessons, talking about how our brains work, how slow it is to use your eyes to find the keys, and why we should self-discipline ourselves to go slow so we can go fast later. Some kids need to hear it a few years in a row before they take the advice. Not every kids can learn every lesson the first time. It might take hearing it over four years for it to sink in. When I taught only one grade level, it wasn’t possible. There are so many opportunities for the teachers who see their students over multiple years.

It is my firm belief that kids do not hear enough about self-discipline. Even something as mundane as typing can help kids learn if we frame it correctly.

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