Today the International Literacy Association (ILA) tweeted: “Are spelling bees more about entertainment than English?” What followed this question was a link to a NPR story titled What is Thamakau?
The article is an interesting read.
Some quotes that stood out to me from the article are:
- But the spelling bee is a purely oral exercise, the only ritual of literacy you could conduct entirely in the dark.
- The people who shine at spelling bees are the ones with retentive visual memories, the kinds of people who can tell you how many states border on Missouri without having to look at a map.
- The charm of the traditional spelling bee is that we can identify with both the winners and the losers. Who hasn’t known the embarrassment of having a spelling error pointed out or the satisfaction of pointing out someone else’s?
- This is extreme spelling, and it’s fitting that the national spelling bee is broadcast by ESPN, the same people who created the X Games.
Recently a local school district was shamed for not sending more participants to the national spelling bee: Newspaper Article Link
The question is are these bees worth the BUZZ? What do they teach us about students literacy knowledge and growth? Who excels at these events? Who are left feeling…dumb?
To bee, or not to bee that is the question. I have my answer. What is yours?