• Steven Delpome

Checking spellcheck (aka: what'll b da most controvershal post on dis site)

Have we teachers worsened children's spelling by warning them of the dangers of spellcheck?

We were well intentioned of course. Making sure to remind children that spellcheck doesn't know everything and that it's good to check your own spelling. But is it possible that we've unintentionally taken away a valuable resource that children could use to improve their spelling and grammar?

As a child, I want to please my teacher and do as they say because they know best. I'm told that spellcheck cannot be trusted. It makes sense then that I will ignore the little red squigglies that appear under the words. "Teacher says I should ignore spellcheck. So I will."

Ah, teacher argues: "But I also tell them to check their spelling themselves."

Where is the logic in asking someone who cannot spell to check their own spellilng?

Okay, I'll buy in that there may be some shred of logic I am overlooking. If it is logical to ask someone who cannot spell to check their own spelling, why would we ask them to do it without the tool that is telling them what is misspelled? Why would we ask a child, who has to spend seven-plus hours a day, who may have two-plus hours of homework, plus other activites they are committed to after school, to use the long arduous tactic of checking each questionable word against the dictionary (if they are struggling spellers, they will have many words they are unsure of) instead of using the convenient tool in front of them? It makes no sense to me.

Of course, if the child does stay awake doing the work of performing this task we assign them to do, will we still complain to them the next day that they should get to bed earlier so they are awake in our period one classes?