Direct Practice Units for Beginning Gregg Shorthand

This is a “Direct-Method” workbook designed to accompany the first 30 units of the Anniversary Manual.

The workbook pages were unnumbered and presented in a “continuous” steno format, so that you read from the top page down to the bottom page. I laid it out with the top page verso and the bottom recto. Writing lessons begin at Unit 6, and Units 6 – 10 also feature an “initial writing sheet” to suggest how the writing assignment should be approached.

The Teacher’s Manual and Key is included, although the key is redundant–the text includes its own key. (I assume this was done so the instructor would have the option of easily using the material for dictation.) The Teacher’s Manual section is interesting in its own right though, explaining the differences between the “Manual Method” and the “Direct Method,” and the respective strengths and weaknesses of each.

Essentially, this text is designed to supplement the Manual using Direct Method principles, thus bringing the benefit of both approaches to the pupil’s study with a goal of mastering 600 common words.

Two of the authors went on to publish a more extensive text entitled Gregg Shorthand: Direct-Approach Method, a 440-page book which also includes its own key. Although not as rare as Direct Practice Units, it tends to be somewhat costly when available. (Amazon has a few used copies in the $50 range.)

It’s very much to Dr. Gregg’s credit that he encouraged diverse approaches to the teaching of his system. His open-mindedness, allowing educators to run with their ideas, resulted in a wealth of additional, highly useful materials.

Attachment: 1936 – Direct Practice Units with Manual.pdf

19 comments Add yours
  1. Thanks for posting. Just a small comment. The units in the Direct Method have no relation to the units in the Anniversary Manual. In fact, what they have done is introduce the 600 or so most frequent words in 30 units. Each unit is a worksheet that is supposed to be completed in a day's work. After these units are complete, the student has to take a book like Gregg Speed Studies, or Fundamental Drills, or the Graded Readings, and go through the material. The teacher would also dictate lists of words that have never been written or seen by the students before. Students are encouraged to deduce the principle that applies in each word or group of words, and if the student cannot write or read, they are encouraged to use the Anniversary manual as a reference to find the particular principle that applies to the word. So they are studying shorthand by analogy: seeing the application of a principle, rather than by learning the principle first.

    That's why this method only covers 6-10 weeks or work: 30 units/day, 5 days/week: 6 weeks. By no means their study of beginning shorthand is over!

  2. Thanks for the clarification. I obviously haven't gone through the DPU yet, but am looking forward to doing so. There did seem to be some overlap with the Manual units on a quick perusal, but as I examine it more closely I see what you mean.

    I've been reading Direct-Method Materials, and I think there is more of an alignment with the Manual chapters there, although that book tends to introduce outlines from later chapters more frequently.

    1. In my comment I should have said that it applies to the DPU book that was posted. Like you said, I think the authors eventually matched the units of the Anniversary manual with the Direct-Approach method manual, as it was intended as a replacement of the regular Anniversary text.

    2. I was actually referring the Brewington book from 1933, but it does start to get confusing with this similar-sounding titles!

      I haven't gone through the Direct-Approach Method yet, but I had no idea it was intended to replace the Manual!

    3. Okay, that's why I was confused. The Brewington book is "Direct-Method Materials" from 1933.

      "Direct-Approach Method" refers to a book by Odell and Stuart, first published in 1944. (Marc–this is the one that has its own key.)

  3. Is this a completely different way to learning shorthand? I haven't heard of the "Direct Approach Method". Is it different than going through the "regular" book or "functional method" book? Are there any articles that talk about this method? Even though it's for Anniversary, I'm still curious either way. I love reading all things shorthand 🙂

  4. Page 18 has some interesting drills I haven't seen elsewhere: For "I will" and "I go", do the I circle three times before the L or G. That might just fix one of my recurring problems. I'm going to try that for circles between two lines as well.

    I'm just skimming it, not reading the shorthand or transcripts, but it's already proved useful.

  5. After reading the Teacher's Manual:

    I like it, but would be nervous using it without a mentor.

    This book is for the first 6-8 weeks of instruction, during which you "automatize" the 600 most common outlines, with no overt reference to "the rules", although they often group words with similar rules. After finishing this book, you learn "the rules" using the standard Manual. They give two sample transition plans.

    It mentions older versions that include more words and different transitions.

    It reminds me of the "whole word" vs "phonics" debate. My grandmother was a primary teacher. Every 5 years she had to take extra training, as the pendulum swung from phonics to whole-word and back. Her opinion, after 40 years and hundreds of students, was you need to use both, all the time.

    Unlike some "whole-word" experts, these authors also value the "rules" method for those words you haven't automated. It's not "them vs us". The end goal for both methods is a large automated vocabulary (automated words are fastest) and the ability to build new words on-the-fly.

    They make a strong case for automating the common words before learning the rules. That's faster than learning the rules, then building the common words out of sounds, then forgetting that the outline has parts and writing it as a single unit. (Note to Self: Don't skimp on the vocab drills.)

    My main hesitation in using it without a mentor is reinforcing mistakes. If you automate an outline, or guess at a rule, not realizing you're wrong, you have to relearn it. This also applies to the rules-based method, and probably has the same cure: Read much, and don't write new material until you've learned all the theory.

    I'd enjoy using this method if the teacher (contrary to the instructions) gave us the standard Manual on Day 1, so I could have faith in the overall system. If I had to memorize 100,000 words, I'd quit.

    1. Hey Cricket–right on.

      My dad taught remedial reading in the 60s to kids who had been badly damaged by the "whole-word-only-no-phonics" approach, which he considered a disaster. I'm sure it's one thing to start off teaching a small stock of strategically chosen whole words, with a view toward the next step of showing the phonetic relationships between and amongst them.

      But the authors in their major 1944 tome, Direct-Approach Method, divided the book into three sections. The first was all Direct Method, the second was Manual Method, and the third was dictation drills.

      Now the first section is rather amazing–no rules at all! They don't even tell you what the letters are or what sounds they represent!

      For me, an intermediate student, it looks like a great book for supplemental study, but I would NEVER want to use this as a text for self-study starting out.

      It looks to me like the Direct-Method is kind of like an extreme form of Mr. Leslie's Functional Method. The FM was supposedly a "no rules" system, but rules were at least given an overview, quick and dirty–and they did present the alphabet up front.

      And that's the crucial difference for me. The FM was indispensable for starting out. Direct-Method stuff is good for supplemental study once you're through the Manual.

      I keep an old beat up copy of Direct-Method Materials in my car, for anytime I have to wait (the doctor's office or whatever) and can use the time for extra reading. Now it's definitely useful for that purpose. 🙂

    2. So they became more extreme? That's a shame. Many of their points made a lot of sense. I can also see frustration if you have five words but only four outlines. Which is the phrase? I might use their word lists for drills later. Word lists chosen just to illustrate a rule are boring.

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