I don’t know how many of you have discovered an app called Grammarly. It basically is a tool that resides in the background and watches everything you type. If you misspell a word or don’t have quite the correct punctuation it quickly turns red and if you hover over those reddened words possible corrections are presented to you.
Here is how my friends at Wikipedia describe this tool:
Grammarly is an English language writing-enhancement platform developed by Grammarly, Inc., which was launched in late 2009. Grammarly’s proofreading and plagiarism-detection resources check more than 250 grammar rules
I am a wordsmith so I almost always go back and check things, again and again, to make sure they are as they should be. In the past, that has been quite an arduous and time-consuming process. Now, with Grammarly, it almost happens in real-time. It even gives me statistics about how much I write and how well I do it. See an example to the right. Grammarly is now one of my top writing tools. But for many Grammarly has a dark side.
To make a point I want to go back in time to another such situation before I proceed forward. In 1971 the first pocket calculator came to the market and was quickly banned in most schools. The logic was that if students had a machine to do it for them they would not learn how to do mathematical functions in their minds. It would be several years before a student could use a calculator during tests in the classroom.
Since I graduated from college in 1970 I didn’t have to worry about a calculator stunting my mind. Yeah, I had a slide rule during college that allowed me to do this stuff but it was anything but convenient or easy. Finally, in 1986 some schools “required” that a student have a calculator during testing as doing without meant fewer problems could be solved.
Coming back to the issue of Grammarly, I suspect the same thing is happening again in the academic world. I suspect this tool is again frowned upon. But in my mind, it actually frees up educational time for other topics. The fundamentals do need to be taught but not monotonously drilled into my head. There is so much more to be subjected to in the educational process than this.
This brings up another related topic for the conclusion of this particular post. When I was in high school in the 1960s we had seven fifty minute classes. The school day was from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm. Now it seems that our local school has shortened their day by at least an hour and on Fridays, they let out at noon. Snow days when they happened during my time were made up at the end of the year. With so much more to learn why are students required to spend less time in the classroom than I did?