Teaching Methods for Machine Shorthand
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Journal of Education for BusinessPublication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/vjeb20
Teaching Methods for Machine ShorthandIrvin H. Lesser aa Canal Zone College Balboa , Canal Zone, P.O. Box 3009, USAPublished online: 30 Jul 2010.
To cite this article: Irvin H. Lesser (1975) Teaching Methods for Machine Shorthand, Journal of Education for Business, 51:3,115-116, DOI: 10.1080/08832323.1975.10118083
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08832323.1975.10118083
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TEACHING METHODS FOR
MACHINE SHORTHAND Irvin H. Lesser Canal Zone College Balboa, Canal Zone, P.O. Box 3009
. . . the vigilant teacher continues to look for better and quicker methods of teaching.
The choices of approaches to teaching machine short- hand are as varied as are those in teaching a manual short- hand system. Traditionally, the approach is to systemati- caUy introduce the keyboard, key-by-key, following each introduction with reinforcement drills. As machine short- hand is a highly skilled subject-just as is manual shorthand -progress is slow but logical with the traditional approach. This article reviews a different approach-perhaps radical and perhaps even unique. It is based on personal experience and preference.
Traditional Approach The traditional approach to beginning machine short-
hand would necessitate approximately seventy 50-minute periods, with the theory lessons interspersed with reinforce- ment lessons. An excellent text for this logical approach is Touch Shorthand, Keyboard and Theory, Book I published by the Stenograph Company of Skokie, Illinois. This text contains 75 lessons and each lesson is designed to be cov- ered in a 50-minute period. The publisher has available a very valuable and cooperative educational department that is ready to answer questions about stenotype.
A Method for Reducing Learning Time Teach the entire keyboard and all the combinations in 13
fifty-minute periods! In order to explain this departure from tradition, it is
first necessary to illustrate a Stenotype keyboard. This is how the keyboard appears on a modern-day shorthand machine; however, the keys are usually blank:
Note in the illustration that all of the letters of the alpha- bet do not appear on the keyboard. Combination keys represent missing letters. The next illustration shows only some of the combinations to form missing letters-a key- board must be functional in order to write initial conso- nants, final consonants, and vowels. To illustrate all of the combinations would make the illustration rather cumber- some.
AU of the keys may be stroked simultaneously-each key having its own particular space on the tape. A key always appears in this same space, as shown here on a simulated tape that is 2 318 wide:
STKPWHRAO*EUFROBLGTSDZ Keys that are depressed, and therefore printed, at one
time are considered as one stroke. My approach is based on the hypothesis that the entire
keyboard and all the combinations are to be learned in thir- teen to fourteen hours and that the remaining sixty-one hours will be devoted to reinforcement and skill develop- ment.
First, approximately twenty-three hours are spent in drilling on abbreviations, phrases, and Building-Speed Para- graphs of each lesson that are in the Stenograph text. The Buildingspeed Paragraphs are made up of relatively easy material. This material is dictated successively at varied speeds-forced and controlled rates with lots and lots of readbacks from the students own tape. The procedure is much the same as in teaching manual shorthand. As many as possible of the Building-Speed Paragraphs of each lesson
DECEMBER, 1975 115
are completed in this manner for each class period until the entire 75 lessons are completed.
Second, after having gone through the seventy-five les- sons in the manner described, the class goes back to Lesson 13 and again reviews abbreviations and phrases. This time, however, the successive varied speed dictation is done on an exercise entitled Building Vocabulary, which contains previewed words and dictation material in paragraph form. Abbreviations, phrases, Building-Speed Paragraphs, and Skill-Building exercises that are to be covered in class are first assigned for homework practice prior to any dic- tation of the material. The class progresses again from Les- sons 13 through 75. (My own opinion is that to be serious in the learning of machine shorthand, a minimum of two hours practice every day at home is mandatory.)
Reducing Stroking As indicated, the Stenograph theory book is a good one;
but it is possible by using other machine shorthand letter combinations to reduce stroking. Theory in machine short- hand is not yet standardized. For example, the Stenograph text does not give an initial X, but only the final -X, using combinations -BGS. A word like exceed would be written: EX (-BGS)/SED, a two-stroke word. But using another theory principle in another text tells us that we may use initial KP for the initial X. Hence, the word exceed would be written KPED, a one-stroke word, thereby saving a stroke. Two more examples further illus- trate a difference in theory: int and ent prefixss are not shortened in the Stenograph text but written out. Into is written N/TO, a two-stroke word; entail is written EN/TAIL, also a two-stroke word. But to use another theory, these are one-stroke words, using SPW for int and ent as well. Hence, into is written SPWO, and entail, is written SPWAIL, both reduced to a one-stroke word. Undoubtedly, a need exists to stan- dardize the theory.
My own opinion is that the Stenograph text presents the theory in a simplified manner and is easier t o learn; how- ever, it takes much longer to learn the theory. Therefore, whenever a theory principle uses fewer strokes than another theory principle, I will teach the one using fewer strokes. I believe it is in this way that we can achieve the high speed for which the machine was intended. The Steno- graph theory book is an excellent text and need not be de- viated from in a single instance if the objective is secretarial. But a reduced stroke theory is necessary for speeds 120 words per minute-or to achieve a court reporting speed of between 180 and 220 words per minute.
After approximately thirty-five hours of instruction, everyone in class had passed a three-minute dictation and transcribed it on non-directed material at least twice at 60 words a minute. Most of the class were working on their second 70-word text; a few were on 80; one was on 90. In traditional methods, a satisfied smile creased my face when a student reached 60 at mid-term!
Additional Drills Continual reviews of abbreviations, numbers, theory pat-
terns for new vocabulary, and periodical evaluations are part of the course. One important strategy is to begin each class period with a fingering drill. A very good manual containing drills is Stenotype Finger Technique, by Heller published by Stenotype Company of California in Los Angeles. These drills particularly develop flexibility and strengthen weak finger muscles. The drills also serve as warm-up exercises.
nologies that are designed to reduce labor and time, the vigilant teacher continually looks for better and quicker methods of teaching. Sometimes changing the order of pre- sentation and introducing new concepts will achieve better results than a traditional method.
During these times of computerization and other tech-
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116 THE JOURNAL OF BUSINESS EDUCATION