Saturday, 30 March 2013

Every Now and Then ...

... I feel the need to sing it from the rooftops - that spelling is not a measure of intelligence.

At this point , most newspaper articles would point out that Richard Branson and Einstein were both dyslexic and couldn't spell but I avoid that comparison because then the dyslexic child reaises that not only can they not spell but that they then have to live up to the giddy heights of intellectual and entrepreneurial brilliance of two of the world's brainiest men. More pressure.

Whilst clearing out a bookshelf this weekend ( that's a whole other story ) I came across my youngest son's spelling book from Year 4. I remember the time and patience it took to practice the weekly list of not 10 but 20 impossible words at the tender age of 8. It would take us twice as long as any non dyslexic because nothing came naturally and being dyspraxic too , his hand would become painful and cramped after a few minutes as he struggled to form the words with his fountain pen. Pencils weren't allowed, so mistakes were painfully and unreasonably obvious for all to see. I used to think they might introduce quill pens at any moment just to increase the torture.

For the non dyslexic child , the weekly spelling nightmare would be a breeze. They may not even have to practice and they certainly wouldn't be found at the breakfast table on the morning of the dreaded spelling test having just one more go.

At the end of the school day, the yellow spelling book ( or rather yellow peril as it came to be known in our house ) would return in the schoolbag for the whole ghastly experience to begin again.

Fast forward 5 years and I'm happy to report that , whilst spelling is still held up as a false yardstick of intellect, my son is now resigned to the fact that :

  • he will never win a spelling bee
  • but at least he will never have to sit another spelling test which mercifully disappear in senior school
  • that he will never have the ignominy of coming last in said test every week
  • that sadly, for some inexplicable reason, for every exam he sits , if allowed to use a laptop, the spell-check facility will be disabled in case he dare to rely on technology -- why ????? 
It is a miracle that he survived, self confidence intact ( albeit dented ) and lives to tell the tale. Looking through the pages of that yellow peril, I almost cried when I read solitary and disparaging comments at the bottom of each page such as 'miserable attempt ' and 'Are you sure you learnt your spellings ? '

Yes he's very sure he learnt his spellings Miss , but have you learnt to be a more enlightened teacher ? Sadly, I think not.

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