How to bewitch a middle-school kid

by | Oct 12, 2017 | kids | 10 comments

A former student of mine writes:

I have been teaching middle school, and I love to be with the students. … I have dozens and dozens of stories from the year so far. It seems that at every moment of teaching, my attitude is either “I can’t believe I get paid to do this,” or, “you cannot possibly pay someone enough to do this.” The challenges and joys together make it great.

As part of my personal desk setup in my classroom, I included, of course, the Brother typewriter that I acquired from you a couple of years ago. I was under the impression that it would be useful to me, and that it is also a good item to have on any serious instructor’s desk.

What I did not foresee was just how fascinated all of the students would be by it.

The 6th graders have taken to keeping a collective, daily class journal on my typewriter. The physical sensation of the apparatus is all but bewitching for them. And the notes they type reflect a connectedness to their day that I don’t think would be catalogued in a Word document. The amount of instances per day in which I hear the words, “Mr. P_____, can I type on the typewriter?” is higher than I could have possibly anticipated. It is downright delightful. Several students have also expressed to me that they are finally typing well on the computer precisely because of their practice on the more-difficult typewriter.

Attached is an image of a page of text that some of my students typed a few weeks ago–to give you an idea of what they’ve been using it for.


  1. Unknown

    I miss working with students. They're (usually) so open to trying new things. I loved watching their posture and expressions change as they go through the process of learning, and get to that moment of understanding and accomplishment. It's magical, as I'm sure you already know :-)

  2. Mark

    I had to google "dabbing"… so the middle school kids are writing openly about marijuana use?

  3. Richard P

    "Cam dab cam dab" is a mystery to me, as are several things on this page!

  4. Words are Winged

    A friend of mine is in the middle of student teaching to finish his education program, and so I gave him an expendable machine of mine to let the students try out. The results were as expected; kids love typewriters.

  5. Bill M

    Great to see the interest in the typewriter in the classroom. It is also nice to see some of what the students write.

  6. Abby Hogan

    I think part of the magic for the kids is seeing it happen mechanically and having a record of it immediately. In this age of texting it's MAGIC


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