That would be a pretty dull superhero fight, huh?
Actually, the title refers to Friday’s post, which drew a quick comment from someone who built a straw-man of “The Human Spellchecker” to stand next to my snarky Human Calculator.
I’m so high-and-mighty about math, but do I use a spell-checker when I blog? Would I deny people a spellchecker too in my dedicated Ludditism?
The answers are, respectively, “occasionally” and “of course!” The existence of tools to assist us doesn’t replace the need to master skills or knowledge on our own.
Consider the source. I take for granted that I’m comfortable doing both of these things. I have to proofread words and numbers as part of both my jobs and my hobbies. It’s in my best interest to be a knowledgeable snob about both.
Maybe they aren’t the best examples for me.
I always say, “music is like calculus to me.” Yet, I’m a musician. I don’t have wonderful pitch, and I am not a natural singer. I can’t pluck perfectly in-tune harmony notes out of thin air like E or Gina, each of whom I refer to as “The Harmony Jukebox.”
When our band learns a new song I usually have to play along on piano at first, and when I sing harmony in the car E has to sing with me the first few times. And I have to pay careful attention to breath support, shaping, and phrasing to stay in tune.
At some point I have to sing the notes myself in an effortless way. If I never eliminated the piano, or E, or the careful attention to every note, I wouldn’t be much of a musician. I mean, yeah, they have auto-tune for that now, but what about performing live.
Bottom line: being a musician is hard work for me! Sometimes it isn’t any fun at all.
What if math was that hard for me? Would I sometimes just whip out the calculator? Probably. But just like music, I’d still want to know how to do it myself. I still want to possess that knowledge.
What about you? Forget grade-school antics like math and spelling. What is a difficult skill that you have to reproduce daily? Do you use a tool to assist you? And, can you still perform the same task without the tool?