A fresh approach to Gregg Shorthand?

I was re-reading some of the posts about Notehand, S90 and,
recently, Centennial, and started to think that the publishers of Gregg
Shorthand missed an opportunity.
Late 20th century Gregg Shorthand could have benefited from
a completely fresh approach to teaching the subject, and to shorthand theory, rather
than simply revising the preceding text.
The idea I had in mind was similar to the approach Teeline originally
took, although Gregg, being better designed, would be much faster.
The publishers should have promoted shorthand as a much more
off-the-cuff and fun (and less intimidating) system, e.g. “We use these symbols
for the sounds of the language, we use a few ‘tricks’ to speed things up (e.g.
omit short ‘u’ before ‘n’), we recommend you use these affixes, we use a small
number of abbreviated words, but otherwise, (the main theory principle), just
write enough of a word to make it identifiable and then stop
. There may be
more than one way to write a word, which is okay. Now, get writing!”
The text books could be predominately letters, articles,
short stories etc, in longhand, for the student to write in shorthand, with a
key at the back of the book providing a recommended rendition into shorthand,
perhaps with variants in brackets, the idea being that if the student’s
shorthand approximates the model ‘answer’, they are progressing well. Later text books could contain more demanding material.
Any thoughts?
(I should add: I have never seen a Centennial publication.)

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  1. Notehand comes close to this idea of being off-the-cuff. It doesn't teach penmanship rules, for instance, and states outright that if, say, the e-circle in the word "deed" is on top of the outline instead of underneath, it doesn't matter and the teacher shouldn't plague their students correct form. It's very low-pressure. Notehand 2nd edition does have some proportion drills here and there, but that's the closest it comes to penmanship lessons. I suspect this is why they never published a notehand dictionary… maybe they didn't want to "lock in" specific rules for how to form outlines (though I think it would have been a big help for beginners if they had published a dictionary for it).

    But the one thing that differs is that notehand is more fully spelled out compared to the other editions, rather than what you mention about just writing enough of the word to recognize it. That is a good idea to adopt, though. Instead of memorizing an exact outline, it's left in the writer's mind to do what makes the most sense to them.

    It is fun to think about what a new Gregg textbook could be like– how would you design it for today's needs? How could you get today's technological generation even interested in it? How could you get a publisher to take a chance on it? Could a new market be found and new life be breathed into Gregg shorthand? Since I'm teaching notehand to my kids, I'm always looking for fresh ideas for how to teach and apply it. So this greatly interests me.

  2. Even with changes it wouldn't have made a difference from a marketing perspective. Alphabetic shorthand systems, teeline, and other alternatives are all as rare (in the U.S.) as Gregg. Computers and keyboards and touchscreens have won the battle–even regular penmanship is on the endangered list.

    That said, Gregg/McGraw-Hill might have had an opportunity to appeal to the self-help, do-it-yourself market by developing a Notehand version geared to the general public instead of to high school students. But they were so locked in to the "shorthand is a tool of business" model that it would never have occurred to them.

  3. Computers and keyboards and …touchscreens…

    Looks like there might be a future market for shorthand to me!!

    Speaking of alternative ways to learn shorthand… from my "Early Learning" perspective, shorthand can be taught to small children just like sign language and other written scripts by parents reading to them. (with huge font sizes)

    My daughter loves it anyways… check out the vid! 😀


    1. That is so cool! I love your homemade Gregg books! I originally taught my kids to read as babies, using the book "How to Teach Your Baby to Read" by Glen Doman. Both of my kids were precocious talkers and readers. Doman's method is similar to what you are doing. I wasn't into shorthand much when my kids were born so it didn't occur to me to try to teach that to them then (alas, an opportunity gone!) But I look forward with great interest to your efforts in this area! So fascinating! Thank you for sharing your video!

    2. Hi Teri,

      Ha! I shouldn't be surprised me that y'all used the IAHP systems too. I bet you noticed the signature monkey-bars frame in the background. 😀

      I'm running into this feeling of "opportunity gone" all the time… I'd spent a bunch of time learning some ASL myself, but we still haven't gotten the baby sign thing rolling. And I'd had absurd ambitions of teaching/learning Morse Code and Braille and and… X-p

      But I'm reading a book "Internal Drive Theory" by Petunia Lee. (Recommended by an EL mom on the Brillkids forum.) While I'm not an avid fan of her opinions on Singaporean politics, her thoughts on child rearing are interesting.

      Teaching Notehand to a older kid seems pretty dang awesome from a motivation development standpoint, because it's such a validation of delayed-gratification behavior. It'll be so useful so soon!

      Anyways, I feel like it fits well into the "Internal Drive" framework for teaching motivation. Kinda like the movie "Inception" if you ever saw that? 😀

    3. I finally watched "Inception" — really wild movie! Loved all the layers to it! The power of suggestion, definitely! ("You will love shorthand, you will love shorthand", LOL)

      We did some ASL at the baby stage, too; but we got tired at some point and let it go, as I'm sure you can relate! A few phrases did come in handy, though ("More", "Enough", etc.)

      It's great you're so involved with your baby. You're going to do great as a parent!

    4. Hehe, I'm glad you like the movie! Yeah, I don't know how it's going to be when the language starts really happening… :O She calls everything a "ball" and understands some words, but zero sign production and I always forget to practice. She likes watching the ASL alphabet when I sing the alphabet song, but that's about it…

      Hmm but about the movie… I don't want to misrepresent myself!

      I was thinking less of ways to make a person like shorthand, than of ways to develop motivation long-term. My thought was that experiencing the convenience of shorthand in the teenage world, after a hard-won pre-adolescent effort, could "incept" the idea in a person that "studying pays off"!

      So, with "inception" being the method of instructing a student by arranging for the student to experience a new principle as if it were their own independent idea.

      ===SPOILER ALERT===

      ===SPOILER ALERT===

      ===SPOILER ALERT===

      …kinda like in the "pinwheel in the safe" scene:

      From wikipedia, "Revived at the mountain fortress, Fischer enters a safe room to discover and accept the planted idea: a projection of his dying father telling him to be his own man."

      While the "Internal Drive" book is framed to appeal to a "tiger parent" audience, I feel like its actual message is much more reserved. As with the idea of Inception, "Help the child to figure it out on their own." 😀

      I hope this wasn't too much!!!

  4. So Jon, I 100% agree with you about the usefulness of off-the-cuff for the learning process. If textbooks are helpful for a person, then Notehand is great. But for folks less interested in texts, it's very interesting to think how efficiently the Gregg essentials could be further condensed and presented for a maximally off-the-cuff approach.

    But I'm also very interested in shorthand for interpersonal use: correspondence, etc. For that kind of usage, there needs to be standardized systems. These two aspects, off-the-cuff and standardization, often seem to theoretically come into conflict.

    If there is no concern about interpersonal, the a maximally off-the-cuff method should be more relevant than it was previously. And the fact that it's not being taught in schools anymore (where systematization is especially essential) makes this even more likely.

    However… I'm hoping to do interpersonal use, within my own family if nothing else, so I'll keep talking about the tradeoff between off-the-cuff learning and interpersonal use!

    Let's consider personal-use computer stenotype ("Plover") for a moment. The current vogue with Plover users is to learn a very-phonetic theory first, and then add in briefs off-the-cuff as the user feels interested. However, the big difference is that the computer has an encompassing library of conflict-free briefs (the "dictionary") that are downloaded on your computer from the get-go. So as a beginner, you rarely need to "make up" a special brief to write a long hard-to-disambiguate word. (like "disambiguate" for instance) The brief form searches up and displays automagically as soon as you spell out the new word, so you can use the brief the next time if you want to learn it.

    To my experience, typing with Plover is something like writing Notehand as a beginner, and then adding in briefs in Anniversary as you go along one-at-a-time, while magically not having to worry about conflicts. I think this is an almost ideal learning model.

    To conclude, I wonder whether it would be possible to design a theory specifically for the purpose of this two-tier learning model. Folks would start out with something like Notehand, and anytime they like begin adding in from a library of briefs designed to give solid speed without excessive conflicts.

    Maybe this approach is already possible with some of the existing systems out there like DJS, Simplified, etc.

    Just my thoughts on the subject from comparing shorthand/stenotype experiences! Thanks for the thought-provoking post!


  5. Very hard to discern any proportions in that video! And it seemed odd to start out presenting circular a and e, rather than elliptical, although that got corrected in most of the word presentations later.

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