Thursday, April 10, 2008

"The H* with Spelling" Time Magazine article

"The Hell with Spelling" Time Magazine. And I quote:

In the course of a congressional hearing on U.S. economic policy, a witness casually mentioned the importance of education to the future of the nation. That was enough for Vermont's plain-spoken Republican Senator Ralph Flanders, 76, who proceeded to sound off on what has obviously become one of his favorite topics.

"Our education system," said he, "is a shambles. I have, for instance, four grandchildren in high school . . . Three of them are writing rather good theses and essays but are not corrected in spelling. They communicate; that's all that is necessary. The hell with spelling.

"Furthermore, the leading citizens of the town in which I live, Springfield, Vermont, were hypnotized into signing a statement of educational policies which includes this: that examinations shall be student-based and not subject-based. In other words, it is of no great importance whether a child really understands the mathematics so long as he is working hard at it. If so, he gets a good grade. But as to whether he has achieved a satisfactory degree of proficiency is not of any particular interest to the school."

Here's my questions, what is this about?

As far as I can tell, the position of standardized tests measuring skills and achievement is very strong in this country. NCLB has vastly increased their importance and impact. So what is he going on about that the lack of testing is the problem with our educational system? It's true that spelling has lost some ground in academia due to the increased use of proof-reading and spell checkers and word processing.

Remember, my generation went to school and we drafted our writing by hand. One did not make endless revisions since each one could mean copying over the entire document. Instead, we doodled up an outline, wrote a draft, proofed it, and then wrote a final version in pretty distinct stages. Now that we have word processors, we tend to do our brainstorming on the keyboard rather than in our head and doodling. So more typos and misspellings occur. And we get sloppy since the spellchecker fixes most of them correctly so some great bloopers get through.

But this is hardly a sign of our educational system going to pot.

Frankly, there haven't been that many great tools to make spelling time, a fun time. But there are now...try


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