I was helping one of my co-workers with a white paper that the Senior Building Manager assigned to him. An elderly gentleman who has spent the overwhelming majority of his facilities career at the Department of the Interior “in the field”, I quickly deduced that he wasn’t as proficient sitting at a desk in front of a keyboard. Watching him struggle and peck away at the keys was nerve-racking. At this point in his career—and life, at large—I don’t think it would do either of us any good to sit down with him and show him the art of keyboarding, as I learned it as a freshman in high school. At this point, it’s probably best that we just adjust to the limitations of his skill set. Or, if he’s not too embarrassed by it, I could introduce him to the program that served as the catalyst for my proficiency as a typist. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: the Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing program.
How I first came across this moment? Back in the Fall of 1997, during my 7th grade year at Wilkerson Middle, I spent afternoons after school at the Smithfield Branch of the Birmingham Public Library. While those afternoons were mostly spent doing research for homework assignments, I did take advantage of some of the programs that the library offered. One of them was getting patrons familiarized with typing by introducing them to Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing. That’s basically how I came across the program.
What it meant to me then? At the time, I was very intrigued by the program. There were many different games that made typing both fun and educational. I liked how the program gauged my typing speed and accuracy, showing me tangible and immediate results. It allowed me to get better very quickly. I was up to 15 words per minute in my 1st month. I remember being super proud of myself in that regard.
What it means to me now? I continued using Mavis Beacon throughout high school. My last use of it was during the Keyboarding Applications class I took as a high school senior. I remember writing in Triumphs & Tribulations III that the course was “as easy an A+ as they come”, mostly because I had years of experience using the software. Today, the program reminds me of my heyday when I was just learning how to type. As I write this, I’m up to 75 words per minute with accuracy consistently above 95%. I’d like to think Mavis Beacon played a major role in that and for that, I’m extremely grateful to have history with the program.