The Relativity of Theory - Mark Kislingbury

First off, what sets your theory apart from the others out there?

Before realtime came into vogue, most of the dozen or more theories in the profession were very similar, in terms of number of strokes per word. Some theories taught more briefs, some not so many; some reporters took it upon themselves to memorize many briefs, some very few briefs. When realtime started to come into demand, two brand-new theories appeared, claiming to be designed especially for realtime, and at least one older theory made modifications so that it could qualify as a realtime theory. Soon, the majority of court reporting schools were using one of these three theories. All three of these theories differed from the older "nonrealtime" theories in one key aspect: They were all much more stroke-intensive - in other words, students now had to write considerably more strokes than ever before. It is no coincidence that since that time, graduation rates have plummeted, while time spent in school has sky-rocketed. Stroke-intensive theories will NOT, in my opinion, allow a person to write good realtime, because they cannot gain enough speed since they have to write so many strokes. I have worked hard to train myself to write as short as I can, and this is key to writing fast, accurate realtime, as well as fast accurate nonrealtime! Thus, the StenoMaster Theory, which is the way I write, is far shorter than the others, and thus will give students a big advantage toward graduating sooner.

Are there different theories for different students? If a student wants to do CART, should they pick a different theory than one who wants to be a court reporter?

In my opinion, no. A good theory works well in both arenas. For the CART reporter, a good theory translates beautifully; and for the court reporter, a good theory translates beautifully, allowing far less edit time.

I like to think that theory is a solid blueprint that should be constantly evolving and personalized by the student. Is theory written in stone, or should it be customized?

I agree with you. Just as basketball players have their own styles, so too do court reporters. I think that students may begin to customize the way they write, if they want to, as soon as they have learned most of their theory. As long as the changes are easier for the student to write, and as long as they don't create a new conflict, the change is for the better. I believe that those teachers who, with the best of intentions, tell their students they must stick 100% to the theory as printed, are unwittingly doing a disservice to their students.

Don’t all theories have conflicts?

Generally, no theory is perfect. Or, even if there was a perfect theory, no student or reporter would memorize it perfectly. Nor can I even image a human being memorizing every homophone or sound-alike in the English language. I believe that a theory that calls itself a realtime theory should be 1) basically conflict free, 2) mostly word-boundary-problem free, and 3) not stroke-intensive.

Is it okay to mix and match theories?

I believe that if the resulting theory contains the three above-enumerated traits, that that is just fine. I like to say, "It doesn't matter HOW you brief a common word or phrase, just that you HAVE a brief for it." In other words, it doesn't matter HOW you achieve writing short, just that you DO write short - if you want to be an excellent realtimer.

We always hear about “stroke-intensive” theories. What does that mean?

I think I was the first person who first brought attention to this term. (If I'm not, I was one of the first.) A stroke-intensive theory is one that has few briefs and phrases, and for thousands of COMMON words the student has to write two, three, or four strokes. Examples: remember, memorandum, position, contract, approximate, estimate, percent, condition, determine, selection. Before the era of realtime, the vast majority of reporters, I think, had one stroke for each of those words and other common words like them. I learned a brief for every one of those way back in 1981! Stroke-intensive theories write many of the above words in two, three, or more strokes. This makes it nearly impossible for students to even graduate, let alone pass a CSR, let alone ever hope to do realtime faster than 150wpm.

Why did the new theories move "the" away from the left bank (/T or /TD)?

In the fall of 1981 I learned to write "the" -T. That's nearly 24 years ago. I think someone got smart and realized that so many good phrases END in "the" rather than START with "the." Examples: in the, of the, to the, and the, for the, with the, from the, about the, some of the, when the, had the, could the, would the, did the, do the, can the. The list goes on and on.

Students used to graduate at a higher rate and faster using an older theory – what makes any newer theory better?

Older theories were not stroke-intensive. Therefore, students graduated in "regular" time. The new stroke-intensive theories put such a huge burden on students that they have to move their fingers much faster than students used to have to, and even then may not graduate. The StenoMaster Theory (my theory), has taken the best of what is old (writing short), turned it into a conflict free, consistent realtime theory, and improved on the old by making it even shorter by many clever devices. Please check out the StenoMaster Theory at Reporters and students alike are raving over it. I truly believe that the StenoMaster Theory is revolutionizing the profession in the direction of faster graduation rates and excellent realtime.