Friday, June 01, 2007

This Post Has No Real Title Because the Endless Possibilities for Spelling Bee Puns Disturb Me

“The chaotic life Of a twelve year old Is too hard And you never know what’s coming next But in spelling Things have logic and line And in spelling There’s a greater design"

I watched the National Spelling Bee last night for the first time. And though the watching of it was incredibly entertaining--my sister told me I was the "biggest loser ever" for watching, but it was fun, really--the whole concept is sort of awful. These kids have spent entirely too much time memorizing the spellings of obscure, useless words (girolle, rascacio, bouleuterion, urgrund--spellcheck doesn't even know them, though spellcheck also doesn't recognize "spellcheck") and only one of them can win. So the rest of them end up disappointed and on the verge of tears. On national television.

Though it is cute when they're really excited about winning, like this girl from a few years ago. OK, maybe it's a little freaky too. But the kid who won last night doesn't even like spelling. When asked after he won if his opinion of spelling bees had changed, his response was: "What? I'm supposed to like spelling more now?"

And spelling bees are not particularly good or educational for students, either. It's essentially just an intense competition for the dorks, and much as I heart dorks...

It seems cruel to let children participate in these things that are all about winning and a useless skill and just increase this ridiculous competitiveness. The Cranium games are trying to single-handedly reverse this trend by trying to reduce the competitive aspect of games. (Though, upon telling my five-year-old brother who had just lost at a Cranium game that he had done a good job, he said, "But I'm still a loser." So unclear how well the Cranium games work.)

Anyhow, last night's lesson is that I am not letting my kids enter spelling bees. Ever.


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