We went to Legoland today. As usual there were huge crowds and huge prices. Those `guests’ who have been to Legoland before know that there is a short train ride from the large open area where we walk in to the lower slopes where the action starts.
We waited for the train ad slid into seats opposite a family of five. The girl, aged thirteen was on her mobile phone. Now it is not unusual for a thirteen year old girl to be on a mobile phone – and certainly not unusual to see a girl texting.
We were astounded, however, to see the speed of her fingers. She had the phone cradled in both hands. She used both of her thumbs to strike the keys. She texted without looking at the keys. She must have gone to text school to learn this skill.
We think she was using predictive texting at times – but she did not even look to check that the words she had typed were correct. The screen filled in seconds and off went her text. The reply came back before the train had gone round the corner.
Her fingers flew again – and she smiled at our comments on her speed and proficiency. Her mother explained that the girl spent a lot of time on her phone. When the girl heard this she smiled and continued texting.
Many years ago the Pitman organisation grew to cope with a demand for proficient typists. Typists had to learn new skills. A good Pitman typist would, however, be horrified to use just his or her thumbs.
So if texting is the new typing then school and colleges will need to react and teach the new skills.
If children can learn to text then why can’t some of our eleven plus examination be based on skills that out children really might want to learn?
An eleven year old boy or girl may feel that it is vitally important to be able to text at speed. So let us add text speak and texting to the eleven plus syllabus and help our children move into the real digital world.