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Devolution? - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
cbertsch
cbertsch
Devolution?
I spent over an hour volunteering in Skylar's class this morning, where the first and second graders were working on their spelling. Among the words included in their related but not identical lists were "raindrop," "slapping," "should," and "once." Every child I witnessed got a 100% score on the practice spelling test.

Afterwards, I drove to the U of A in order to meet with my undergraduate students, most of whom are juniors, in order to discuss their papers. Spelling errors abound. "Forever" becomes "for ever," "dandelion" becomes "dandy lion," "trickery" becomes "tricky."

But my favorite error of the day by far was the sorority girl who consistently uses the spelling "women" when she is referring to a single individual: "How rare can a beautiful women be?"

Maybe our nation's obsessions with "standards," which generally leads to excessive busywork and mind-numbing testing regimens, will at least produce one piece of edible fruit. Because I have a hard time imagining that the children in Skylar's class are going to spell as badly at age 20 as the students I'm teaching right now spell.
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Comments
art_thirst From: art_thirst Date: September 24th, 2005 02:04 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Gawd! Please! I no wot u meen dood. *wink* "But, professor, I used my spell checker on it!" Proof read it with your eyes and mind.
somemonad From: somemonad Date: September 24th, 2005 04:47 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
How rare can a beautiful women be?
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 24th, 2005 06:36 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Eye halve a spelling chequer,
It came with my pea sea.
It plane leigh marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.
As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the err roar rite
Its rare lea ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no.
Its letter perfect awl the weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: September 24th, 2005 06:44 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Nothing like English orthography, is there? Unless, of course, one thinks of English ornithology. . .
From: jsterne Date: September 24th, 2005 02:40 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

but the operative question is. . .

. . .do you plan to send Skylar to the U of A?
commonalgebra From: commonalgebra Date: September 24th, 2005 03:40 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I am sorry, but I'm inclined to believe that many of them will spell that poorly. I teach students who have grown up in the climate of equation "standardized testing = funding, therefore repetition of low level skills, busywork, busywork, busywork." My students can't spell. Reading their writing is like staggering through a battlefield of language—mutilated words here, the broken body parts of sentences there...it's a rough landscape littered with things that ought to be recognizable.

My thought is that they—and perhaps this is true of many of your students as well—aren't really motivated to get the language down accurately. I think for many teachers of writing, the motivation becomes the concern…and eventually the spelling works itself out (unless the student really has a bona fide spelling issue). But when the students are younger, more of them seem to take spelling words and spelling tests more seriously.

This is a long response—and, undoubtedly, you have considered much of this yourself. However, the efficacy and purpose of spelling tests are often in my mind as I give them weekly and the vast majority of students neither study nor do well. Hmmm. So, my thoughts always return to motivation…
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