In class yesterday the professor was discussing the upcoming midterm–giving specifics as to length, etc, and easing people’s apprehensiveness. For the laptop users in the class, she is allowing the use of a word-processor as long as we promise not to search the internet during the exam.
I raised my hand and asked if one decided to use the bluebook, would points be deduct for misspellings? I realized in the middle of my question how stupid it sounded–of course points will be taken off. You’re in graduate school, idiot. And, although she nicely affirmed my stupidity, and I realized that I’d become one of those I-can’t-take-an-exam-unless-you-tell-me-every-detail students that I do not so much adore.
The thing is that I don’t feel my statement completely unfounded. Although my professor is pretty darn tech savvy (much greater than me, actually) I felt it was a testament to our generation gap. I’ve been writing my papers since seventh grade on the computer, which means for the last 11 years I’ve been using spell check. Meaning, when I have to write things out I do NOT know how to spell and my vocabulary greatly decreases. I’ve come to rely on those red squiggly lines under words and Google’s, “did you mean ____” function. Is this bad? Yes. It is. But is it reality? Yes. It is.
I was also a poor speller before the use of computers. Although my spelling hasn’t so much improved at least I can get around it. In the case of the exam, I would much rather hand write my responses, but acknowledge that using my laptop would give me (and the rest of the computer users) a significant advantage. My point is that sure, it isn’t so great that I’d be lost without spell-check, but spell-check isn’t going anywhere. It is a part of who we are and our culture–a fact we cannot deny or fight. It wasn’t so much that I was asking about the nitty-gritty of the exam, I was asking if I would be taking a significant loss if I decided to take the exam without my left arm (an extremity that I don’t necessary need, but certainly use–it just so happens I’m right-handed anyhow). Because, well, like the very library users I’m trying to teach, we use it because it has always been there. Can we be looked down upon it for not functioning well without it?