It is unlikely that the new film, Spellbound, is going to improve children's capacity to spell. More's the pity. For many children, spelling sucks. No matter that the film, dealing with the 72nd National Spelling Bee for schoolchildren in America, is full of drama and palpable tension.
The importance of correct spelling as an indicator of clear communication has been reduced through our increasing dependence on technology. No one really cares if a text message is slackly spelt. In fact, SMS has given rise to a new verb. We now "text". With the increasing dependence on spellcheckers and as I write this, some of my words are instantly underlined in red we have lost the capacity to spell well. Are we bothered about it? Authentic jerseys from china Hardly.
Dale Spender, in her forward looking book, Nattering on the Net, sums up the current spell free zone this way: "The conventional wisdom now is that young people don't spell as well as their parents; that computers and spellcheckers mean that they don't keep the rules in their heads any more, but are content to access a computer program. This is fine, as far as most young people are concerned; they want to be able to do it, not know it."
Spender has a point. In Spellbound, what America's best child spellers typify Elite nfl jerseys is knowing how to spell but not knowing why. There is a difference.
But maybe too much of a fuss is made of accurate spelling. Does it really matter, when the aim of communication is only to connect? To text or not to text is not dependent on getting the spelling right.
Once, not so very long ago, the "look, cover, write and check" mantra was chanted dutifully in Victoria's classrooms. These days, children are in a multimedia environment where literacy is expressed through text, visuals and sound. Spelling seems so, well, out there.
Ironically, as much as spelling may be negotiable these days due to technology, Spellbound illustrates how being able to spell still counts for something.
In America every year, 10 million students, spanning 93 per cent of school districts, face off against each other, word for word. So popular is the National Spelling Bee that the final in Washington is televised live on the sports channel ESPN, more commonly associated with the World Series baseball and NBA basketball. Getting to the final is the American dream of success.
It is unlikely that in Australia a national spelling bee would create much interest. The reason is simple. Although spelling is still considered important ask any parent of a child who can't spell or an employer who has to proofread every memo Australian cultural expressionism conspires against correct spelling. A walk down any shopping strip will present some memorable howlers. Advertising has to accept some of the blame for poor spelling as well. Catchy terms and phrases that are intentionally wrong can quickly become common usage for children.
In 1998, the New South Wales Premier, Bob Carr, decided he had had enough of sloppy spelling and announced traditional spelling tests would return to NSW state schools.
"Correct spelling is an important indicator of literacy and a key element Cheap soccer shoes of writing," he said. "To succeed, today's students need to be able to read, write, analyse and evaluate."
The response was not surprising. Carr was widely accused of being a reactionary and giving way to traditionalism.
A similar reaction was apparent in Britain. In 2001, the Blair Government announced that having an ability to spell accurately was an indicator of educational success. The Government attempted to introduce a list of 700 key words that all children aged 14 should be able to spell. It quickly became an "advisory" list only. The problem with suggesting that children should learn to spell certain words, some unfamiliar to their street vocabulary, is that it is seen by some educationalists and parents as control freakery.
But, beyond technology and a certain cultural tolerance of poor spelling, there is a far more insidious threat to accurate spelling. This is the gradual but insistent Americanisation of Australian English. In Britain, it is now formal school policy that children are expected to drop English spelling for scientific terms and adopt American spellings. Under the guise of international Authentic nfl jerseys standardisation, and what is termed "phonic logic", sulphate, for example, is spelt "sulfate" and fetus replaces "foetus".
It is hardly reassuring that only 17 per cent of English speakers, says Richard Wade, former deputy of BBC Radio Four an institution with the custodianship of the Queen's English can spell the following words correctly: height, necessary, accommodation, separate, sincerely and business. (Try to look, cover, write and check to see if you can.) Wade also sagely declares: "The spirit of the internet is one of freedom, and the avoidance of rigid convention." A good thing? Maybe.
What is being lost in the imperialisation of Australian English by American software, television and films is Australian speech. Combined with texting, spellcheckers and email, knowing how to spell is quickly becoming irrelevant. So much so that before long we may be unable to tell who can spell correctly and who can't. And no one will care.