Friday, August 13, 2010

Call the Spell Check Police...

I just couldn't let this go. 

The other day on one of the social networking sites that I am on, someone posted about a friend who was excited to be going to college.  That friend had misspelled several words in her original post, including the word 'college.'  Several people went on to poke fun at the original poster and her obvious lack of intelligence.  They also questioned her ability to learn and her place in a facility of higher education.

Several people said (paraphrase) that colleges let anyone and everyone in and not everyone should be allowed to seek a college education.  That made me fuming mad.  How dare they say something so demeaning of others?  Have we become so elitist that we would deny the freedom to better our station to those of us that we deem unworthy?

I am the parent of a child who was labelled 'learning disabled' at a very young age.  We were told she'd be 'average at best' and not to expect her to be accepted into college.  Well, guess what?  She's going to college and she's better than average.  She's been given a chance to succeed even though there were those around her who would see her just survive.  She can better herself and her world, even though she could not read much beyond preschool level when she was in the fourth grade.

A couple of days passed, and I just couldn't let this go.  It's amazing to me that, in the land of the free and the brave, we have other people willing to say that not everyone deserves the same chances as everyone else.  I agree that not everyone WILL go to college.  Some simply do not care to and others who want to will not get the chance because they feel that a college education is out of their reach financially.  Others who want to go may feel that they are constrained by life circumstances (family, children, job) and  can not commit to spending time to get a higher education.  Still, it's encouraging to know that the doors to knowledge are flung wide for those willing to pursue education beyond high school.  

So how dare someone insinuate that simply because another has some spelling errors in a post online that that person is not worthy of education?  If that person truly can not spell some words, perhaps the best thing for her would be to go to a place of higher learning and to be challenged to learn to spell correctly.  Would we deny her that opportunity in order to keep her ignorant?  Why?  It seems to me that educating our citizens to the highest of their capabilities would be a boon for our society.  The more people we educate, the more mind power we have to care for and grow our society properly.  This is the land of opportunity, of free-markets and freedom from tyranny and oppression.  Isn't it?   

There was also accusation of public school failure in the responses.  I'll give ya that the public education system in this country needs a redo.  If only we could backspace and delete over some of the stuff that DOESN'T work (No Child Left Behind), and insert smaller classroom sizes, more teachers, better facilities.  Things that do work and do foster better learning in our children. 

We also need to re-insert the parents and other caregivers into the equation.  It seems that schools have become a 13 year (or longer) on-going daycare facility.  Parents can just drop their kids off and go to work.  Easy.  Peasy.  Then, the kids get home and mommy and daddy are still at work, so they do what they will until their exhausted parents come home and feed them some fast food and send them to bed.  People, we've got to get back in the parenting business.  Working for a living is a reality, but so is the need for parent interaction.  I've heard it time and time again:  Teachers aren't teaching our kids the 3 R's, they are teaching them social skills and basic behavior skills and manners.  Things that should be taught and reinforced at home.

And speaking of teaching at home, some people think that home schooling is the answer.  I guess that would be the epitome of parent involvement, but homeschoolers seem to think that a complete 'check out' of the system is in order.  We can not fix something that is broken by ignoring it.  If a natural gas line on my property breaks and leaks natural gas into the air, I can't just go on about my day ignoring it.  Eventually, the neighborhood will be on fire.  So how is keeping our kids away from public schools, and therefore society, going to help us fix the public school system or society itself?  Someday, those kids will have to be integrated back into society if they want to live and flourish in that society. 

I'm sure some of you will read this and find a typo or twelve.  And I'm sure some of you are reading this and going, "Yea, but what do you think will fix it, Ms. Smartypants?"  I don't have all of the answers, but I do know that being involved with my children and their school and making sure that they are learning not only their ABC's but also how to love, respect, and cherish others is a start.  Learning begins at home.  I hope I'm giving my kids the best head start I can by staying at home with them while they are little.  But I don't have all the answers and all I can do is try to make sure that my children go out into the world prepared to make it a better place.  And if they can not spell?  Well, at least they will know that they CAN change the world, one mispelled wurd @ ah thyme. 


Brans said...

I'm so sick of the elitist attitude in this country. Yes, sometimes I come across as a know it all. I am aware of that and regard it as a flaw in my personality, not something that I am proud of.

My DH is one of the smartest people I know. He understands physics principles and how things work just by looking at them. It amazes me because for all of my good grades/ability to memorize, physics has always stumped me. The problem is that he thinks he's dumb. He has a learning disability and it went undiagnosed until his junior or senior year. So he was just "dumb" and "didn't apply himself". He can't spell for anything. Actually that's not true. He has no confidence in his ability to spell. When he asks me how to spell something, a lot of the time he's got it right, he just doesn't think so. He would never go to college for physics because he can't memorize the theories and who came up with what. How does that translate to practical use, which he can do? We are so big on theory in this country that most ppl leaving college can't practice what they've learned.

As for the public school situation. Yeah, I have big issues with it, but homeschool is not our answer (tho DH would love for it to be because of the social issues, not necessary academic). I think our public school system is so behind the times, so rooted in the past and what used to be applicable, that it's doing a lot of kids more harm than good. I know there are some programs (usually the ones with more money who can do their own thing) that give different tracks for kids. They can choose what area they are interested in and pursue that. The one size fits all mentality is very outdated. People are intelligent in different areas and that's really ok. Spelling is just the ability to memorize (which is one of DH's learning issues). Memorization is considered the lowest form of learning. While it is necessary in a lot of instances, too much focus is place on what ppl can memorize instead of how ppl can apply. Ok, enuff of that soap box.

As for parents being involved in parenting, I completely agree with you. I work outside the home and am trying to get my master's. None of that allows me to abdicate my role as the parent to my 2 small children. Yes, I'm exhausted most of the time. Yes, some days I just need some quiet time and to crawl into bed. But I do my best to give them what they need to make it in society and school. We discuss social issues on the way to and from school as well as at home, church, in the store, etc. Everything can be a learning experience and in this day and age of multitasking, my children's social skills are at the top of the priority list. I used to have academics at the top, I was wrong.

One last thing in my incredibly long response lol... I honestly believe the internet and texting have degraded much of our grammar/spelling skills. That and the lack of use for most ppl. Computers have spell check which makes us lazy, calculators make our math skills lazy, texting is done in a hurry which makes us sloppy and use condense versions, and twitter has a 140 character limitation which results in condensed words and again makes us sloppy. I agree to being lazy. I'll use tho and enuff and thru when typing. I know the correct spelling, I just don't care enuff to put in the effort. That doesn't make me stupid. It just makes me normal.

Alaina said...

I can only assume what site this was on as I've seen it many many times on a specific site. Its terrible how they get this pack mantality and attack a person over such rediculous things. I've always had a very high reading level and I ALWAYS misspell words! Usually because I type faster than my brain can keep up with. "The" usually ends up as "teh".
I can honestly say that the education system is in dire need of an over haul. I went from TX and a rather good. Education system to AZ, and was bored stupid for 3 years. I had more education in the fine arts classes than math or english. My grades fell not because I was dumb, but because I was bored. I wanted to learn something new and challenge my skills and they wouldn't give it to me. I was stuck at this mediocre level. Why should I do again what I've done for 3 years?
Children are quite amazing. If they are expected to learn they will! In Alexanders time- Yes, Alexander the Great- children were reading, writing, excelling at math and philosiphy at young ages. They were expected to learn and they did learn. Children were in school for a majority of the day. They were not only expected to learn the core classes but they were also proficiant in the arts as well as hourse riding, sword play and combat skills.
Having a child with special needs is definitely an experience. But to think they will be 'average at best' is infuriating! Time and time again they have been proven wrong. Some of the greatest minds failed in school and are diagnosed with developmental issues like autism. Kyla found. A incredible video online. A valevictorian was speaking. You could tell something was "off" by the way he spoke and hardly lifted his eyes from his speach. He was speaking about his life experience. At a very young age he was diagnosed with a severe case of autism. The doctors didn't. Hold much hope for him. They said he would be institutionalized because of this. His parents refused to accept this and THEY did something about it. For 12 hours a day they focused on 10 words a day. And he progressed. But in. The. End, he was institutionalized. In fact, he was accepted into every institution he's ever applied for. Institutions of higher learning.
Parents need to buckle down, focus on their kids, be involved in their activities and expect them to learn TO THE BEST OF THEIR ABILITY! School isn't day care. It is an education not all are entitled to in the world. Both parents and children should recognize this.
Working and going to school isn't a reason to brush your kid off either. There are too many people that work, go to school and are involved in several other activities and still are deeply involved with their children- many are single parents as well. Yes that means I expect my husband to hit the ground running when he gets home from work. I've been running the kids and house all day, it doesn't stop at 4:30.
Well off to be a mom! Yay!