Saturday, August 21, 2010

I'm on a Big Rant!

     I just returned from having a coffee and a chat with an old friend of mine, who happens to be a high school teacher. The more I think about part of our conversation, the more I want to let loose and rant. After all, ranting is rather fun once in awhile, and you feel so much better after getting it all off your chest. Since my husband is still up north, and the dog doesn't care, I'm left with no other outlet than going on a big one right here. 

     Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, those of genteel manner and sensitive feelings might just as well stop reading now as this is apt to get ugly. First, my disclaimer: I, in no way, manner or form, claim to be an expert on the following issue. Nor do I take any responsibility for your health or costs incurred from the shock that I might actually have an opinion of such prejudice on this subject. You've all been fairly warned. 

     'What do you mean; no marks are deducted for misspelling?' My retort even surprised yours truly in  it's ferocity. What the Sam Hill has public education come to? Are you just an overpaid babysitter? What ever happened to spelling? Honestly, I was mortified, that in today's world, education is stretched so thin that essential skills have been dropped from the curriculum. First it was music, arts and drama that vanished ... but this? This is criminal! 

     While once again patting myself on the back for my early life decision not to have kids, I could only shake my head in disbelief. Back in my day, in public school, in very early grades, we had to learn to spell. We not only lost marks in subjects other than spelling, but we could actually flunk the whole year for not being able to spell, and it very early on pointed out those with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. We could spell pretty well by the third grade and spelling was an actual subject. I admit I hated it and dodged it at every opportunity. However, since my mother was a school teacher before she was married, I didn't get away with much. Back in the days when kids still got punished for bad behavior, a common detention activity was writing lists of complicated words over and over. I was no angel so participated in this process on a regular basis. All through my formal education, spelling was important and had to be correct. Even in the workforce ... technical reports had to be correct in every way. Nobody was going to tell us how to spell a word either! Didn't matter what kind of crisis I was in, the reply was, "Go look it up in the dictionary." There was no computer so you actually had to get your fat ass off a chair, walk across the room and lift a large book off the shelf .... and open it.  OK, so you had to be able to almost spell a word in order to do that ... and that involved thinking about it on your own. I managed. Why can't the kids today? 

     So I'm told everybody uses Spellcheck. Well, I use Spellcheck too but I don't rely on it. What about when you get all the choices to choose from? You kinda have to know the difference between those words or your document is still worth diddly squat. I know my mother is reading this and getting a good laugh. Her spelling and grammar is only less perfect than God's, and I'm sure she's already found some errors in this rant. I don't care .. and I don't claim my spelling is always correct, and I know I tend to use slang to create a mood, but it's a damn sight better than what passes for correct these days in a whole lot of media. The bottom line is this: Kids today can't spell worth a crap and they're not going to learn unless its taught and taught early. What is spelling now? An extracurricular sport? Right up there with the chess club and the bridge club and the Reach For the Top team? Geeksville! Only a select few brain boxes are remotely interested and  passionate about correctness. By the way, those are the kids who are going to get the really high paying jobs after university. Take note of that parents. 

     See .... ranting is a good thing. I'm feeling better already. I'm still disgusted though. I am aware that heavy emphasis is put on spelling in private school. Great ... and I certainly admire the education taught there. What about the other 90% of children who aren't privileged enough to attend these fine schools? This, folks, is a very sad state of affairs. I'm appalled that public education is stretched that thin and my tax dollars are paying for this ridiculous excuse for an education. The classrooms are so overcrowded that the teachers are hard pressed just to maintain order, and hopefully a few will absorb the lessons. I guess it all just makes me sad. I am also thankful. Thankful that I had the proper education in public school and thankful to my parents for making me do the work. At least I don't look like a total idiot when I post something publicly. 

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