“My spelling is Wobbly. It’s good spelling but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places.”
A. A. Milne
“I don’t see any use in having a uniform and arbitrary way of spelling words. We might as well make all clothes alike and cook all dishes alike. Sameness is tiresome; variety is pleasing.”
― Mark Twain
“God, don’t they teach you how to spell these days?”
“No,” I answer. “They teach us to use spell-check.”
― Jodi Picoult
It goes like this: I’m at a school and giving the class a handout. I’m reading it along with them so I can answer (hopefully) any question that arises. The first page is a list of vocabulary words (the day’s “Do Now” is: “Why do you need to increase your vocabulary?”); the following pages (parts A & B) are fill-in-the-blanks based solely on those words. The kids are struggling already. The answers are on the first page given: they just have to read, go back to the list, circle the correct letter or fill in the blank.
Part C is different: it’s a journal entry that asks them to think. All well and good, but then it says (and I’m only slightly paraphrasing here):
“Don’t Worry About Spelling.”
That in itself boggles my mind, but it’s not the first time I have been mentally gobsmacked (hmmm..is that possible, since a gob is a mouth? Don’t care: I’ll follow Mark Twain from his above quote. So yes, I am dumbfounded).
I wrote about a previous experience with third graders before: in assisting a student with a written assignment, in my trying to help them correct all their spelling errors, which were many, I was informed that the school administration did not want that. If the word read like it sounded, then that was good enough. I informed the teacher that I’d rather be fired for trying to help the student spell correctly then to dumb down. Nothing more was ever said to me on that subject.
In the case of the above hand out, this was High School. Six and seven grades higher, and “don’t worry about spelling” is emblazoned on the paper. Scary. Just plain old scary.
On a recent interview, I was told by the interviewer that they had to discard so many resumes and cover letters due to the amount of grammatical and spelling (many homonym) errors that a normal spell check system does not catch. I’ve heard this before, and I’ve kicked myself in the head the few times I did not proof read a cover letter as well as possible, catching that stupid mistake that makes me sound like a dolt.
So…the schools say “don’t worry about spelling.” The job force, which is getting stricter and harder to break through, IS looking at these things.
Scary…just plain old scary; and very, very sad.
Public schools need to raise their standards and return to a more traditional, classical educational learning method.
What we are churning out is not working.
What do you think?