I have been recently reading Lesley Cowan’s biography of John Robert Gregg and I have been finding it quite interesting. One of the things that it has sparked an interest in, is the teaching methods for Gregg shorthand, when it was still being taught in schools and colleges.
What I am not sure about is the purpose of the shorthand plates in the magazines for example, the Gregg writer and the Light Liner: how are they meant to be used by students? From what I understand what you meant to do is as a student, read back the plate. After you have read it back successfully the plate is then used as dictation material. Part the reason why I was puzzled is because sometimes in these magazines the key was put before the shorthand plates, sometimes it was put in the magazine in the next month, or the solution key was not published in the magazine at all.
Another thing which I am puzzled about is how shorthand speed was tested. Looking at resources on the Internet, nowadays transcripts are meant to be verbatim to pass court reporting exams and a market deducted for every omission or every insertion or every mistake. The pass mark for modern court reporting exams is 95% accuracy at 225 words per minute and above. From what I understand, it seems that a long time ago, for example at the beginning of the 20th century that these standards were a lot more lenient: for example 200 words per minute was considered extremely fast. Does anybody know about the shorthand examination systems of the past and how they were conducted? In addition from what I understand the NCRA exam requires you to turn in your raw steno notes, but these are not marked as such, this is actually to show that you have not cheated and did actually take down the audio instead of using voice recording or other things. Last time when shorthand was taught, was any deviation from what was put forward in the manual classed as incorrect, or were you given freedom to devise your own outlines and contraction rules?