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Words by Meridith Knepper Carsella; XHTML by G.D. Warner

Don't Ask

"Why does school take so long?"


Picture this:

You're at a party with some old friends. You're all catching up on each other's lives, and you hear ... The Question.

Do you know the one I'm talking about? Yes, that's right:

"When are you going to be finished with that typing school of yours?"

To be sure, there are many variations on that particular question, each one more annoying than the last.

Fortunately, my Facebook friend, Meridith, has a few suggestions for you to keep at the ready during your next familial interrogation family get-together.

Good luck, everybody!


Don't Ask

Don't Ask

Before you ask a Court Reporting Student "Why does school take so long?" Consider the following:

When people keep asking me why school takes so long, I turn my display onto English- so what I write comes out in English. I'll write their name and a simple sentence. Then I'll hand them my machine and ask them to write their name. They stare at the unmarked keys. They try to make sense of them. Not having the year (and then some) that it took to learn Phoenix theory, they can't do it. They can't spell their name.

Then, I take my machine back, change the display to only show Steno, and write something like, "The cow jumped over the moon." I ask them to read it. They can't. I tell them that the next time they ask me why my schooling is taking so LOOOOOOONG- they had better be able to at least write their name and read a simple sentence in steno. ;o) It tends to quiet them down a bit.

But here's some food for thought. Maybe more people will have a deeper understanding if they were to read the following information.

The average length of time is somewhere between 3-5 years. Many factors go into this. Someone who is going to school full-time, and doesn't have a job, family, or any other responsibilities to cut into practice time, will probably be on the shorter end, or even spend less time in school. There are exceptions to every rule, of course. The theory is a factor, too. Some theories are faster and/or easier to learn than other theories. Online or brick and mortar tend to have a different pace, as well. How high the standards are for passing tests can have an impact. The self-motivated individual who has a very strong grasp of the English language and how to punctuate it, as well as a very strong vocabulary, and a knack for learning new languages, physical dexterity of the fingers with the ability to do different things with each hand at the same time, good hearing, and adequate ability to stay focused will do better than someone without these abilities.

Supportive environment. It takes a LOT out of a human being to take tests every single day and fail. That's the nature of the beast in CR school. You take speed tests every day, and until you are actually at the speed that you're testing at- you're going to fail them all. This doesn't affect your GPA, but it CAN affect your self-esteem! You have to learn to take each failure and turn it into a positive. Not everyone has this ability, either. Which could explain the over 90% drop out rate, across the nation, of all schools- online or brick and mortar. Anything that detracts from your ability to be on your machine, doing high-speed dictation, will slow you down. That means taking care of the home, the family, chores, shopping, jobs, volunteering, eating, sleeping. Lol Court Reporters aren't just learning to "type real fast". They are learning a whole new way of typing. We don't spell out words, we stroke sounds. We don't have a QWERTY keyboard, we have a Phonetic one. Which means our keyboard is sort of like a word. We have the beginning sound of a word on the left side, the middle, lower letters are the middle of the word, and the right hand does the ending letters. If you ask me how to spell Jack- it's not going to be one finger pressing down "J, a, c, k." (Four strokes of individual fingers.) It's going to be SKWRABG with 7 fingers, all at the same time. One stroke. The soft "J" sound is a combination of pressing "SKWR" all at once in my theory. The hard "G" sound is "TKPW." So we not only have to learn how to represent letters (If we have to spell out someone's name) on a keyboard that only has 20 keys (with repeated letters, too!), we also have to make a shift from spelling out letters to making sounds come out of combinations of letters that really don't make a whole lot of sense... it's a way of telling you which keys to press down to represent a sound. This is literally the same as acquiring a second language. Learning to write what you hear instead of spell what you hear is a skill that not everyone can accomplish. Then we have these sounds. What are we going to do with them? In my theory, HOW we write our vowels, or IF we write them at all, tells the different sounds what to do. If I want to write, HOMEWORK I would write, HOME in one stroke (HOEPL) and then wrk (W-RBG). I would omit the "O" in work to tell that word to stick to the first word. Learning all of these rules on how to make the phonemes stick or not stick, or convert to something else entirely to form a word is acquiring a SECOND language along with the first one that we're learning just to get those phonemes down onto our keyboard. Keep in mind that our 20 key keyboard, has repeating letters on both sides. So we don't have anywhere NEAR all of the letters of the alphabet on that machine. "C" for example, is a KR stroked together. Q is a KW stroked together.

Now that we've learned how to write SOUNDS instead of WORDS, and now that we know those crazy combinations of letters to make those sounds, and now that we've learned how to make those different sounds stick or not, we have to start doing it fast. Very fast. We have to eventually get to 225 words per minute. How fast do YOU type, btw? Some people learn all of that... and then can never get to 225 words per minute. Those are the really hard ones to see leave school. They have everything else in place. They just can't do it fast enough. It's heart breaking. And we have people who have to give up when they run out of money, get injured, get repetitive movement injuries, lose morale, etc. It's a BATTLEFIELD. You're battling your own mind, self doubts, critics in the people around you, difficulty level in what you are trying to do, guilt over the people and things that you have to neglect in order to get ENOUGH practice in to justify occupying a chair in school. So the next time you meet a Court Reporting Student, do them a favor... don't ask them why they're taking so long.

And now here's this from a neuropsychologist explaining the miracle of the human brain that even allows for this skill set to be possible:


This is Your Brain

This is Your Brain

Here is an excerpt from a neuropsychologist's deposition which we think you will find very interesting!

The neuropsychologist is describing the intricacies of the human brain ...

NEUROPSYCHOLOGIST: May I give an example of this?


NEUROPSYCHOLOGIST: Okay. If you look -- and the example is this: Our brains are a miracle. Okay. They're a miracle that needs to be protected. And if you look at the court reporter right now, as an example, okay, this is a miracle in progress happening right before your eyes.

Let me just explain what she needs to do. I am speaking, so the information has to come in through her ear into her temporal lobe, and it has to go log itself into the language center. She has to be able to comprehend what I'm saying.

Then it has to get rerouted to the prefrontal cortex where it has to hold -- she has to be able to hold the information, because, you know, I continuously talk so she has to hold it. Right? Then she has to analyze it, integrate it and synthesize it. Then it has to go back to the cerebellum and she has to be able to execute this, and she has to be able to then convert my words into those little squiggly marks. Have you ever seen court reporters have little squiggly language things?

So she has to convert it into a different language, and the white matter tracks allows her to reroute all of this information simultaneously without effort. Okay.

We take our brains for granted. She's sitting here. I'm probably talking too fast for her, but she's able to do this simultaneously. Seamlessly. Okay.

No animal on the planet can do this. All right. That's why I believe court reporters will never be replaced. Because no technical -- no technology could replace the beauty of that brain and the miracle of that brain. And that's why your brain should always be protected and you should take care of it.

Bonus, we can work just about anywhere!

Meridith's Practice and Work View

Meridith's Practice and Work View