About Sir Isaac Pitman

Celebrating 200 years: Efficiency, Empowerment and Employment

Celebrating 200 years: Efficiency, Empowerment and Employment

 The legacy of Sir Isaac Pitman

Well-arranged time is the surest mark of a well-arranged mind 

True to his word, Sir Isaac Pitman spent his ‘well-arranged’ life working to improve the efficiency and productivity of the office workforce.  Leading by example, his robust career history is testament to this: astronomy lecturer, temperance worker, preacher, president of the vegetarian society, and most notably the creator of Pitman Shorthand.  He developed this further with the introduction of Pitman Secretarial Colleges, which evolved to become Pitman Training in the early 1990’s.

Sir Isaac Pitman was light years ahead of his time, his innovation in the office industry revolutionised efficiency and communication, and contributed to female empowerment, years before women’s suffrage (hold your comments until a little further down, we shall explain!).

As we mark Sir Isaac Pitman’s 200th Birthday (January 4th 2013), we thought we’d take you through a look at his legacy in more detail…

Eh-fih-si-en-see* – The phonographical beginnings

It could be said that Pitman’s phonographical innovations were his ‘bread’n’butter’. However a better way to describe his intricate design of a revolutionary communication tool, would be to call it a scientific art-form of communication, underpinned by a desire for individuals and organisations to be well organised.

Pitman shorthand transformed how we record speech and thoughts in the English language, and subsequently it had a huge influence on revolutionising journalism in the 19th and 20th centuries.  Still used today, the shorthand technique has adapted and evolved over the years and now works to help thousands of businesses and individuals worldwide improve their productivity and *efficiency.

Current careers using this ‘time saving tool’ include: PAsMinute Takers, and students in higher education, as it’s a great way to take notes when attending seminars.

Girl Power!

Ok, we’re not professing that Sir Isaac Pitman single-handedly led the female revolution, but what he did achieve was provide women with a form of empowerment through the establishment of secure office based careers such as Typists, Secretaries and Personal Assistants.  This was particularly crucial after the First World War, with many women attending the learning innovation of the time - Pitman Secretarial Colleges.

We’re well aware of the stereotypical ‘secretaries of the 1970’s’, and we’re not suggesting this is a representation for female aspiration, but what Pitman did was plant a seed for future development.  He gave women an identity and purpose, beyond that of a housewife, which has led to many modifications of the role of women within the workplace today.

Today, Pitman Training centres support males and females in their career paths – enabling many to fulfil their ambitions.

Career Aspirations

Like most of us, you probably started your career aspirations as a young child with delusions of time, money and excellent prospects….”When I grow up I would like to be a: fireman in the morning, ballet dancer at lunch, nurse after lunch, zoo keeper in the afternoon and actress in the evening!”….. Sound familiar?!

For Sir Isaac Pitman, this ‘childhood dream’ became a reality, and a very ‘well organised’ one, as you can imagine!  Pitman considered his role in helping people gain skills and employment as “belonging not to time but eternity”, and it is this belief that has kept his legacy firmly rooted within training for employment.

What can be seen from his legacy is the role that education has to play in supporting and developing careers as well as individual’s development.  Evident to this day, Sir Isaac Pitman developed a system which has evolved over the years, but stays true to its original intentions – training is for life, personal growth, and a ‘tool’ to help you achieve your goals. 

A 200 year old legacy lives on

With his place in history as an inventor and innovator, Sir Isaac Pitman’s heritage still lives on today and his impact on the working world has reached thousands of people worldwide.  His memorial plaque on the north wall of Bath Abbey reads, "His aims were steadfast, his mind original, his work prodigious, the achievement world-wide. His life was ordered in service to God and duty to man."

We are very proud to continue to develop his legacy and to have such an amazing wealth of heritage behind us.

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