August 13th, 2010


Good Spelling

I'm 32, so those of you older than I should know what I'm talking about, though I imagine that depends on where you were brought up.

When I was growing up, we didn't have hooked on phonics for parents to help their kids with. We had phonics taught in grade school. Enunciation, pronunciation, and spelling are all wrapped up in that. From that very strong base, along with encouragment from my parents to read, I was prepared for a world in which good, clear, concise communciation is important. As someone who has been around the Internet for a while (about 13 years now, though I know that's not nearly as long as some others my age), I've seen all manner of spelling and grammatical errors.

"Will" for "well"
"To" for "too"
"Groan" for "grown"

The list goes on, though it's not limited to homophones.

What has happened to the school system? Has so little emphasis been put on correct spelling? What about grammar? I struggled through high school exclusively because of grammar, yet I managed to pass on my own merit, not just so the teacher can get me out of their class. Does this make me elitist? No. I don't even consider myself well educated. I have a high school diploma which I received with a 2.3GPA after 4 years in high school, twice dropped out of college (two different colleges; one I flunked out of due to changes in the curriculum I couldn't adapt to and a second time dropped because of issues with my first semester (missed all but a few of my finals)) and only now going back to school after 5 years of trying to find steady work and even then it's a trade school, not a degree-earning program. Not that there is anything wrong with learning a trade, it is just a really far cry from my childhood dream of becoming an astronaut.

There are definitely issues that I could not be considering as I encounter all sorts of people. Some might not have had the chance at even going to and graduating from high school. Others might not have had teachers that cared (that is still a rampant issue, I believe). I really can understand that and I try not to rant about spelling errors too much, but at what point did it become okay to tell our students that having a problem spelling is not something to be concerned about? At what point did it become okay to let slide the basics of our much-maligned language (according to the English, anyway :p) just so we can cram a few more kids out the door with a diploma? Slowly the worth of a high school diploma is becoming less and less as our employers demand ever more of our children and even us in the work place. Is it really true, as one commentor to an article in a news article I read, that all the liberals want is a government-indoctinerated drone with no capability of even forming a proper thought? I can't help but consider that as a possibility given laws such as NCLB which puts quantity over quality (an ever dangerous thing no matter what it is you are talking about). Do we as a society no longer value a truly educated person? Are technical companies (such as Google, Yahoo, Sun, etc.) the only ones to value any sort of independent thinking (though that seems to be slowly eroding as each one lobbies the government and educational instutitions with their own agendas)) the only ones interested in highly intelligent people who can do a good job? When did proper spelling and grammar usage become of so little value in the educational system?

Yes, I'm frustrated and rightly so. As a potential employer and future contractor I want to be able to clearly communicate with those who work for me and those whom I work for; there should be no ambiguity in meaning in business transactions or even personal ones. I want to see an emphasis brought back to spelling and grammar, and for those who never had a chance while a child to get that sort of education, perhaps the Church could help with that. Guttenberg brought the printed word to the masses in spite of opposition from governments and the Roman Catholic Church (both feared a loss of power over the masses). It seems little has changed in many societies. Those who are native speakers of a language, I urge you to learn it well. Such knowledge will benefit you in an untold amount of situations. Whether you are learning a new language or digging down even further into a study of your own, do not dismiss spelling as unimportant. It is important. It is one of the hallmarks of clear, concise communication. It helps to remove ambiguity and gives the appearance of authority. It also confers a level of respect. God does not want us to be knuckleheads. Almost everyone is born with the possibility of being a clear communicator. You don't lose that until you're either senile or dead. Don't waste any moment to continue your education. If you need help, reach out and find someone who will help and do not be discouraged. It will be hard, it could even possibly take a long time.

Don't let a failing public education system limit your God-given potential.
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