Three Old-Fashioned Classes I Wish Would Return To High School

On Saturday, I ordered a new couch. The salesman had to enter the specifications for the couch into his computer. He seemed like a knowledgeable enough fellow–probably early 50s, knew a lot about furniture. But, he used two fingers to type all the information into his computer.

That made me start thinking back to my days in high school and thinking in the present about what classes my children take and I realized that there are three classes that everyone should take, but many schools don’t even offer. Educators, we HR types would be thrilled if people came to work with these skills–even though some don’t seem work-related.


Back in the dark ages, when I was in high school, I took type classes. We learned to type on actual typewriters (although they did have built-in correction tape to fix mistakes, but only small ones). We learned how to place our fingers on the correct keys (sometimes we typed with our hands covered), and to properly format business letters.

To keep reading, click here: Three Old-Fashioned Classes I Wish Would Return To High School

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29 thoughts on “Three Old-Fashioned Classes I Wish Would Return To High School

  1. Ah, dear Evil –

    When I went to high school (late 1950s) boys did not (were not encouraged / offered) typing or home economics classes although I did take shop and an auto repair class. And I learned cursive writing 🙂

    1. Oh, I know. They were very gendered back in the day. Men didn’t need to type because they weren’t going to be secretaries and they certainly didn’t need to learn to cook.

      Now everyone is expected to type and cook and no one takes a class for either!

      As for shop, girls could take shop in the late 80s when I was in school, but not many did. My school didn’t do autobody.

      1. I’m male and I took typing in high school in the 60’s. I can type about 50 WPM. I was the only boy in the class and I will freely admit that I took it solely to meet girls. Still, it was one of the most useful classes I took, ever.

        Not long ago, I had a 18-19 ish student working for me. She once showed me that she could type faster on her phone using two fingers than I can type of a keyboard. Kids text so much now that they teach themselves to type using what ever method works for them.

      2. Everyone needs the basic skills. Typing, home economics, shop and some type of finance course. These should all be taught in school. You learn more and practice more in a semester classroom than you do taking an online course.

  2. Totally agree with typing. My 3rd grader asked me this weekend how I learned to type without looking. I told him I took a class in high school and it took some practice but that is how I learned. I said it was one of the best class selections I made

  3. I totally agree about typing. I have 21 years of formal education and still think typing was the most valuable course I ever took, and — certainly — the most used in daily life. And, I’m old enough that it was before correction tape. We had to use typewriter erasers to erase our mistakes. And if we were making carbon copies, that meant slipping a scrap of paper between the carbon paper and the carbon copies, so that the erasures didn’t leave a smudge. I can still type almost as fast as I can speak, or think, and it’s an invaluable skill. Schools need to resume teaching cursive writing, too. I have 2 Grandsons for whom I have to print when I send them a card or letter. That’s a shame.

  4. I would throw in a class on basic accounting. Next to typing, this has served me well in life.

  5. There are computer based typing classes. If school doesn’t offer them, parents can have their kiddos learn right on the keyboard.

    1. Exactly, I’m sure things like Mavis Beacon still exist. You can get freeware stuff too, to teach typing on a computer.

  6. My husband and I regularly allow our 3 and 4 year olds to use hand tools – with real nails and screws and wood. The 4 year old will get a hand saw and miter box for his 5th birthday. Other parents are shocked that we allow this type of “play”. But I know they’re not going to get it in school And I predict that by the time they are working age, there will be such a shortage of skilled laborers that trades people will be able to charge as much as doctors and lawyers. I hope my kids take up trades!

  7. I’m a teacher and teaching typing has been a huge argument in Tech Ed for a while. The divide tended to be along the socio/eco lines. People who teach students middle class and higher eco classes see it as waste to time because “they learn that at home” Teachers who work at lower soc/eco schools especially Title I schools see it as a necessity. Those students don’t have access to laptops or desktops at home. There is also the difference between using an on-screen keyboard and physical keyboard.

    All three classes are generally victims of state testing. If it isn’t on the state test it is an extra. Schools with a lower socio/eco population generally have more kids failing the test so even less time is spent on practical classes.

    1. Teaching to those damn tests is the biggest waste of school resources I’ve ever seen. That is the main reason I decided not to be a teacher. The only way I could teach things I wanted to teach would have been if I did it at the university level, and I didn’t want to spend the time or money on a Ph.D.

  8. I graduated high school in the early 1980s. We had typing classes, shop, and home economics. I took shop and home ec but not typing for some reason. It was hunt-and-peck until about ten years later. I ended up taking an adult ed course to learn office skills and learned typing with the Mavis Beacon software. If I’d known those things sooner, I probably could have gotten a better job sooner.

    I’m in favor of kids learning basic home and workplace skills, including how to manage finances, in school. Not all parents, even in middle-class circles, teach their kids these things at home. If we’re going to push them out toward college or work, they absolutely should know how to cook and shop for themselves, how to make minor repairs and when to call someone in, etc. when they’re on their own.

  9. I wonder about typing….Technology is changing pretty rapidly, and the QWERTY keyboard was never designed for efficiency in electronic media anyway (it was designed to PREVENT fast typing, in fact–it was built to minimize the chance of physical keys getting jammed in typewriters). I wonder how much technology will change, and how long before writing text is no longer what we’d consider typing. We’re seeing some of that now, with text messaging.

  10. I took typing in high school. I was terrible at it. It was the only time I got a “D” grade, and I think that was being kind.

    My kids do not have typing. However the schools now have a class called “Success 101”. It is supposed to teach life skills such as how to balance a checkbook or how to plan a trip to a nearby state or country. I thought this was something that kids should get taught at home by their parents. My kids found it boring as it was very easy for them. I guess there are many parents who are not involved with their kids.

    1. It’s a question about what’s useful. Balancing a checkbook is useful when there’s a lag between writing the check and the check being drawn from the account. In an age where most withdraws are electronic and processed nearly instantly, it’s not that advantageous. If you never write a check (and many people I know don’t) your balance in your account is what it is; deposits and withdraws happen so fast you couldn’t keep up with them if you tried. (The trick is to anticipate deposits/withdraws, which is a whole other skillset.)

      Same with hemming pants. I can do it if I need to, but 9 times out of 10 the hems hold but the rest of the pants give way. It’s my job; the hems are over-built and the pants are designed to take abuse so my squishy skin doesn’t. Hemming pants is irrelevant when the legs are ripped to shreds from falling down a rocky mountain slope.

      Certain skills I think are good to know, but can be adequately learned from online resources on your own time. There’s simply no way to tailor education to match all reasonably-expected lifestyles.

  11. I still look back at the History teacher (Mr. Harris) I had back in high school in the early 70s. That man could type faster with two fingers than I ever have been able to with all mine. And on a manual typewriter.

    I took typing my senior year, mainly because I needed one more class that year to fill my day and I was already maxed out on band classes. Row upon row of Royal manual typewriters, and one column of desks with IBM Selectrics. And I was also the only male in the class.

  12. I learned to type in the early 90’s via Mavis Beacon Teaching Typing where you had to load the floppy every time you wanted to play. Good times.

    I did take keyboarding in high school and was one of the few who could type. I hated that class because I could type pretty well.

    High school home ec in the late 90’s was mostly cooking and sewing, very little on the economics part. We did have a shop class and the car bays still existed in the building but not the classes.

    I was cooking at 7-8 and summers during middle and high school my sister and I cooked dinner most nights. Full meals. So, I’m lucky that I learned cooking and budgeting skills at home. I know many kids don’t. Sewing though. I can tack up a hem or fix a button but more than that I’m getting someone who knows what they are doing.

  13. I took typing in high school because I had to have one more “manual arts” credit to graduate. The only other class available in the time slot was a welding class that, the semester before, had welded the shop door shut – from the inside – while the teacher stood there and watched. I didn’t want to be in that class.

    Typing is the only class I took in high school that I use every day as an adult.

    On #3, shop class, you sound a lot like Mike Rowe (the guy who did the Dirty Jobs TV show), who can go on at great length about how hazardous it is for a society to not have skilled blue collar workers to keep the gears of civilization greased.

      1. Rural Missouri is a great place to be from, and the farther from, the better. Never live in a place where family trees don’t branch out.

  14. My most valued high school classes were English, Typing and Home Economics. Typing is a skill that has helped me write a myriad of electronic communications. Home Economics taught me to sew and make a bed (basic survival skills). English was a natural for me and was the foundation for my broad knowledge of grammar, punctuation, and writing.

  15. I took typing in high school. My school counselor practically made me sign up for the class, as he said it would serve me well through life. I thought he was being completely sexist. Turns out, he was totally right (though I don’t know whether he similarly encouraged his male students to take the course). It still ends up being one of the courses that really helped me the most on a day to day basis.

    1. That’s funny. My school guidance counselor told me the exact opposite. He said I shouldn’t learn how to type if i didn’t want to get locked into a secretarial job. Employers would only picture you in a female dominated job if you were a good typist. I became a scientist and I still suck at typing.

  16. I took typing in high school as an elective being that I was on a Regents diploma program, I had to fill in a class to complete curriculum requirements. The only reason course was available was for those who were in the “business” program for those students who couldn’t maintain grade average even with tutors in the academic program so they could have a job skill when they graduated high school. Home Ec was available for all seniors. I didn’t do great in typing but I managed to pass it at bare minimal speed skill ( If pushed I can type 30 words a minute without looking at my fingers but I did learn proper placement on hands on a Qwerty keyboard which is exactly what is on all keyboards ( typewriter, word processors, computers), I thank the Lord every day for the spellcheck built into computers. I was able to use that knowledge of the keyboard to learn how to text via the phone using one finger on each hand ( I prefer my pointer finger over my thumb because the keyboard is so tiny) HomeEc skills is a vital skill especially in households where no one did serious cooking, plus it also taught other skills like budgeting, parenting skills, basic accounting, sewing skills, house cleaning basics, cooking basics, how to do laundry and organize rooms. Unfortunately, Shop was not an option at my high school as I would have taken it, we did have Driver’s Ed which did have sit down classes which stressed against drunk driving and what were the rules of the road beside actual driving lessons, which in hindsight should have been limited to only two students in a car, not four so each would get ample time behind the wheel, especially if you never got behind the wheel of a car until you took the class. Learning how to drive properly was an important skill for me especially since it wasn’t an easy skill to learn, I had to learn to coordinate my eyes with my hands and my feet. I am known as a cautious driver so when my eyesight required me to use glasses which affected my perception of the road, I stopped driving unless absolutely necessary to avoid having an accident. Another class that was available was a program where those in senior year could work at selected jobs for school credit learning plus learn job skills.
    If some form of these classes were made part of the curriculum, the young people today would not need to take “adulting “classes in college and they would when graduating high school have some form of job skills.

  17. In the early 80s when I was in high school, they suggested you take at least 1 semester of typing if you were going to college because you’d have papers to type, though it was still largely girls in these classes. I learned on the IBM Selectric. This was before personal computers were in use for most people. I never took Home Ec or Shop in high school, but I was the only girl in my drafting class.

  18. I remember working in a bookstore and a female customer being utterly scathing about my two-finger typing (which is actually pretty quick) – saying if I’d been at her secretarial school I would nave learned to type properly. Told her I had never had the slightest intention of ever being anyone’s secretary, and I got on just fine with my typing. It’s the only time I’ve been brusque with a customer but man, she pissed me off!

  19. Obviously this article was going to generate a lot of comments. And I loved reading them. Typing was such an important class for me – of course it’s relevant today! I’m the only person I know who can actually type. I actually took sewing in high school, which also included knitting, and even though my mother also taught me, one of my sisters who took the class knows how to sew, and the one who didn’t, doesn’t. So that sewing class made a difference. I still knit and sew today. SO these classes would need to be updated, but YES! Balancing your bank account, basic accounting, basic cooking, sewing a button on your shirt, basic car repair, basic woodworking. ALL of this is SO necessary for all students. Requiring it all for all students would take away the gender and “good student/bad student” bias. In business school, they make students work in groups on project – I’d like to see that in high schools as well. OH and internships for all students. And cursive! I guess it’s totally unnecessary, but it saddens my heart that my nephews can’t read my mother’s writing (the most beautiful writing taught by nuns ever). Sorry, I’m not a teacher or a parent, so what do I know??!! I just know that education need to change.

  20. I totally agree about with the author, these 3 classes are essential to success in life, college, jobs, dating and even assist with your conversational skills as noted in the testimonies written hear. One of my favorite subjects was English, but I truly relished typing class. Found it fascinating that I could actually type without looking at the keys, (yes type on a typewriter-manual at that so you know how old I must be). One of the worse things they took away from schools is teaching cursive writing. I always ask teachers and administrators shouldn’t our children be able to read the U. S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence and other founding documents in their original format or be able to legally “sign” their name to documents? Hmmm, still no answer.

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