Is Spell Check Making us Less Intelligent?

Carrie Schmelkin : Gossip from the Hallways
Carrie Schmelkin
Web Editor, TMC

Is Spell Check Making us Less Intelligent?

Thumbnail image for Children and LaptopsAn interesting question was raised by one of my classmates when we were juniors in high school about to take the AP English exam (and no it was not “Does anyone have a pencil?” or “What test is this again?”) Instead it was, “Can we use dictionaries?”

While my peers initially laughed at our classmate, chuckles were soon replaced by nervous giggles as the fear set in that we would actually have to write our essays without (GASP!) the use of Microsoft Word which so kindly “reds” words that are misspelled. Or, better yet, autocorrects.

I am going to venture a guess that this type of panic spanned more than just Westchester County as computer dependent kids nowadays don’t know what to do when they are forced to put the good ole’ pen to paper and try to spell words without their trusty computer companion.  This illustrates one of the biggest questions that I can’t seem to figure out the answer to: at what point does frequent computer use in school become a bad thing?

I see both sides here.

On the one hand, students who become adept with computers at a young age are well equipped to handle computer-heavy college courses and eventually the real world – a place in which it is now increasingly common for employees to have at least two computers, a iPad and a smartphone. Moreover, students see firsthand how the magic of the Internet is just a click away, there to give them insight into Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” the War of 1812 and how to solve for infinity.

Conversely, the more students become Microsoft Word savvy and text messaging devotees, the less they know how to spell tricky words such as “jewelry,” “Renaissance,” and “accidentally.” And on the rare occasion that your future boss actually requests you to leave them a handwritten reminder as opposed to an email (or if your future email system doesn’t have spell check), you are going to wish your school had spent a little more time using notebooks as opposed to laptops.

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