Functional Method?

What does that mean?  I decided to learn the old Gregg since I really don’t use it for my job.  And I like the old one (even though it’s harder with all the BF and shortcuts and abbreviations…) and thought it would be fun.

It’s called Gregg Shorthand Functional Method.  The last copywright was 1936 and it says, arranged in accordance with the Anniversary edition of Gregg Shorthand.
So I did a search. Appanetly there’s a Functional Method, Series 90 and Functional Method, DJS.
Is this just a different way to teach/learn it?  Or what?

(by debbiavon1 for everyone)

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  1. I had done a little research on that, since those were the books I learned shorthand from (Anniversary Edition/Functional Method Parts 1 and 2, Leslie).  Be sure to get both parts.   The functional method refers to the way of teaching shorthand.  Up to the release of the first functional method book, shorthand teaching was based on repetitive drilling of words, brief forms, sentences, and memorization of rules, plus writing shorthand from day one, and tests on all of that.  Instead, the Functional Method stresses the importance of reading well-written shorthand before starting to write a single line of it.  Also, students don't memorize rules: rather, they deduce the rule from the outlines presented.  So, it is sort of "learn by example", or "learning by doing".  Louis Leslie, who had been teaching shorthand for about 20 years before the publication of this book, had been experimenting with alternative ways of teaching shorthand.  Inspired by the book "The Practice of Teaching in the Secondary School" by Henry Morrison, he decided to apply the principles exposed in that book.   With the Functional Method, if you are following the book, you won't write any shorthand whatsoever until Lesson 21 (end of Chapter 4).  Mr. Leslie claims that after students have read shorthand for twenty-one class periods, they pick up their pens and write as well as, and usually better than, students who began writing on the first day of instruction, and have been practicing writing for twenty-one periods.  That is because, according to him, shorthand is mainly a brain activity, not a hand skill.  If the correct outlines have not been impressed in the brain, there is no way that the writing will come out right.   If you see a typical lesson, you won't see any rules.  You will see a review of previous material, a list of words grouped according to a new principle, and paragraphs to read (and in later lessons to write).   The two parts give sufficient material for a one semester introductory shorthand course.   I like those books, because they have lots of reading and practice material, and the shorthand is written beautifully and clearly.  As a reference, I use the Anniversary Method manual, in case I want to find a specific rule.  But the Functional Method books are great.   FYI, there is also a Functional Method Dictation.  This one is for the Anniversary Edition.

  2. As some more trivia regarding this publication, the first student of this method was named Charles Rader.  The Functional Method has no penmanship drills whatsoever.  However, if you find that name familiar, that man wrote nearly every shorthand plate in Simplified on.  He wrote a bit for Anniversary, too.   Leslie worded it this way: "By chance I happened upon Charles Rader and in November, 1933, began to teach him by what is now known as the Functional Method.  This is especially interesting because Rader has written the shorthand plates for many of the shorthand books, both in the Anniversary series and in the Simplified series.  Some teachers cannot believe that it is possible to develop good shorthand penmanship without formal penmanship drills as is done in the Functional Method.  A glance at any of the printed Gregg texts written by Rader will disclose what can be done without formal penmanship training." (Source: Methods of Teaching Gregg Shorthand, 1955)   With the results of that one-on-one class, Louis Leslie knew that a class experiment needed to be done.  Seth B. Carkin (once the principal of the Packard School in New York) arranged to have a group of young people chosen at random for use as an experimental class.  Louis Fish (former business director for the city of Boston) got word of this experiment and wanted the method explained to teachers before the class even began.  On December 13, 1934, the method was announced to several hundred teachers in and around Boston who gathered at the teacher's college of the city of Boston at Fish's invitation.   The first public high school to use the method was the Girls' High School in Boston, led by Mabel S. Hastings, head of the shorthand department.  The school at which Leslie taught was Packard, and it was the first private school to use the method.  One set of texts were written for the two schools every week by Leslie.  Charles Zoubek made a verbatim transcript of the class with stopwatch timing to measure each teaching procedure for time.   Over the suggestion of Clyde I. Blanchard, the lesson plans were published in the Business Education World under the title, "How I Teach My Shorthand".  In case anyone isn't familiar with that magazine, it was the magazine that covered many business education issues and also supplemented The Gregg Writer with full transcriptions of each month's issue.  The first installment of the article appeared in the March, 1935 issue of B.E.W.  As soon as this first installment came, demand rose for a complete set of lesson plans for the method.  Dr. T. A. Regan was the namer for the method.  Regan asked Leslie what he called his method, and he had no idea.  Regan responded that he called it the Functional Method "because you teach what functions in the business office; you leave out the rules and everything that is not in direct use in the office."  Dr. Regan's doctoral dissertation was on the Functional Method.   Today was the first day that I had read through several issues of Business Education World, and an article or two from Leslie is in every issue.   I had a field day at the library, reading things that no one else on the campus is the least bit interested in. 🙂   —Andw. Owen

  3. Isn't it a fascinating story? I knew about the Charles Rader tidbit, that he learned using the Functional Method, but I didn't know he was the first student!

  4. Thank you for that Andrew, that is great to know.   I actually found on eBay "Gregg Shorthand-Teachers Handbook, Louis A. Leslie,1936 " it's for the funcational method and it's really interesting.  I've read more then half in less then a week (read most of it last weekend).  And what you mentioned was in there, they took out the explaining of the rules and told teachers to say, "that's the way it's written' or something like that.  Unless of course there is a simple reason, such as the circle in 'did not' so it's different the 'would not' outline.  It talked a lot about the past way of teaching shorthand which confused me a little since I didn't know what it referred to.  But it's all good.  It has the transcript to the last half of the second book since the students book doesnt have it.  And the teachers book has the transcript to the brief form drills.   It actually suggests that no new dictation be done until after Assignment 70.  Just simple dictation from the book and the student can have the book open to the page they're taking down.  They do list several books that can be used for dictation after lesson 70 and they suggest starting with simple short letters (25 standard words, approximately, they give a few samples).   The drills are not to be written by the student just read over and over.  The reading and writing assignment (after 21) is only written once.  Wish I had this when I started, I did it the hard way, writing the drills and writing the reading and writing exercise twice… lol. Debbi

  5. So maybe Marc's version isn't fiction. But I like it nonetheless.   The problem for me is that the selections in the books are so boring! I don't really care why Ms Smith cannot chair a meeting, nor why the salesmen in the eastern region are not selling as much as the salesmen in the western region.   Writing them out seems infinitely less borning.   I guess it's time I moved to Anny — at least there are stories available in that version!

  6. I heard a different story as to the development of the functional method.

    Louis Leslie's mother complained that he didn't write home enough in 1920. He told her that he would if she learned to read shorthand. She studied the manual with the goal of learning to read shorthand.

    He wrote much more often. There was much happiness.

    And, one day, he received a letter from her, written in shorthand. At the time, it was completely unheard of. No penmanship drills? No dictation classes? No instruction by a teacher? He indicated that she did make some of the mistakes beginners make, turning things the wrong way and such. But it was readable shorthand.

    If she could learn shorthand without the laborious penmanship drills of the day, perhaps others could, too. And the functional method was born.


  7. I just did a google on Charles Rader, and there are lots of them. But the only thing I got about the Gregg stenographer Rader was that he was overworked. It was on two or three "buyer" reviews of the Simplified Dictionary, which leads me to believe they were originally from the same source. I'd love to know who wrote the review, and how they knew he was "overworked"!   Yes, I'd love to know about Mr Rader, too, but he remains an enigma. Should I phone McGraw Hill and find out if anyone still working there knows him?

  8. One fact that I found very interesting was that Mr. Leslie, before being called by Gregg's company, taught shorthand in a private school in Laurel, Mississippi. That is interesting to me since I live in Mississippi, not terribly far from Laurel (a town devastated by hurricane Katrina in recent days). 🙂

    —Andw. Owen

  9. (That ":)" was not in reference to the parenthetical.)

    Also, I did not know before reading Expert Diamond Jubilee Shorthand that the great Charles Lee Swem was the inventor of the self-dictation method.

    It was interesting for there not to be a picture of Louis Leslie anywhere in anything I read (other than a picture of his writing hand). I finally found a headshot in the _Business Education World_.

    I would love to learn more about Mr. Rader, since I know so little about the fellow.

    —Andw. Owen

  10. I like the functional methods over the regular method ones — I think they are better designed for self study.   Billy,.in terms of the reading selections in the books, that's what you get when you read DJS, S90, and Centennial books: only business-related stuff, because DJS was designed specifically for business, and that same focus continued for the latter series.  If you get to the speed building books, you get a little more variety, but not much.

  11. The business samples are fine in my case–I am learning it for business use, or use in business classes. I will admit dreaming of literature penned in Simplified.

    Yes, you should call McGraw Hill. On Marc^3's suggestion, I give them a buzz every time I can't think of a particular brief form.

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