Sunday, 7 June 2009

BEEEEEEEEEP!!!!!! Ping...

Is touch typing on the school curriculum? It should be. And why not alongside learning to write? 
It is such a useful skill! Couldn't 'A' and 'a' be recognised on the keyboard and tapped only with the little finger of the left hand. Is that so hard? Perhaps it is. I learnt to touch type about ten years ago. I was dedicated and practised daily, keen in a way I never was when I learnt the piano. 

How text appears on a page matters. Really, really matters. At my last class I tried to demonstrate this with a very fun exercise where two aliens are having an argument. Their names are Beeper and Pingy. Beeper can only say beep and Pingy can only say ping. Punctuation was allowed along with variations on the words lettering, such as beeeep. Size, spacing and case all mattered. 

I had a lovely time. The results were fun, clearly expressive and, I hope, a first step in appreciating that there isn't one way to present text on a page. There are many. It is a question of style and content. An alien argument looks whacky. A letter has a template depending on what type of letter it is. E-mails have separated paragraphs and don't indent, like this blog and web page text. Novels come in a variety of styles but mostly there paragraphs and speech is indented and spaces are indicate new scenes or a lapse of time.

I'm such a fuss pot about all this. Isn't content much more important than presentation? Well, yes, but the teacher in me gets a little tetchy when I see the same inappropriate formatting over and over again. A general rule is that the reading of prose wants to run as smoothly as possible. The proof of the pudding is to read it out loud. So often, how something is written down, sabotages a good piece. Shame, I cry. And so unnecessary! 

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