Let’s get rid of spelling bees to promote literacy

Spelling bees are a major part of a literacy awareness campaign in Canada..

The campaign is called “Raise a reader” . A newspaper chain and our Post Office sponsor this campaign.

To me this is largely a waste of money. Only the very best readers will bother getting involved in this, and I really do not think that knowing how to spell a bunch of obscure words is that useful a skill.

I was listening to an interview at Echo Moskvi?? about the “History Olympics” program they have in Russia, where high school kids compete in their knowledge of history. I would enlarge it to include geography. I would leave out all modern pop culture or trivial knowledge that we see on TV quiz shows. Watching kids at different age levels compete in terms of their general knowledge would be more interesting than watching a spelling bee and more meaningful.

In order to be successful, kids would have to read a lot. I think this would be more effective in promoting literacy, if it were promoted in the schools.


One thought on “Let’s get rid of spelling bees to promote literacy

  1. I recently read an article that stated most adults couldn’t perform simple 4th grade mathematics. I happened to be sitting in a fourth grade math class on the same day (observing a client as part of my job), and decided to give it a try. I was quite embarrassed with myself, as I actually struggled with some very basic math skills.The experience made me question why I was having difficulty with something so relatively easy..and then something occurred to me. Right there…right where I sat in the classroom, I had access to no less than four calculators within easy reach (phone, laptop, palm device, spell check/calculator)! At work, I have 5. No wonder I don’t have the skills…I don’t need to exercise them!Spelling is an important skill, but I agree, a spelling bee is a waste of time. I was a voracious reader in my youth, and my vocabulary was quite loquacious; to the point that many of my peers didn’t even know what I was saying. I realized later, that the vocabulary was at too high of a level. I also happened to be one of the worst spellers in the world. Fortunately, we live in the world of spell check…and again…there are numerous devices at my fingertips that will check my spelling for me. Yes…knowing how to spell is an important part of communication, but I don’t really think it has any effect on reading fluency.

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