Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Another rant... you may not want to read... but you should!!

I have just heard a member of the teacher's union being very defensive about pupils' use of grammar and correct spelling - or should I say, lack of it. I know that I bang on about this and I am sorry to anyone who is fed up with me, but.... it just drives me nuts.

People seem to fall over themselves to make excuses as to why people don't or can't spell properly. I know that all of us make mistakes occasionally - just today I was unsure as to how I should spell 'weird', but I checked and  reassured myself that I was spelling it correctly.Some people, however, seem almost proud of their inability.

So many children leave school with no qualifications. Focus is on celebrity and designer clothing and make up.Even as young children there is no sense of aspiration, no desire to read or take an interest in school or learn anything 'from a book'.They appear to expect everyone around them to 'sort them out' for money and cannot believe that nobody wishes to employ them.

There seems to be a trend amongst some families to avoid responsibility for their children's education.Yes, I know that education is the responsibility of schools, but not entirely.It is a partnership.As a parent it is our responsibility to read to our children - right from the beginning. We should read to them, read with them and let them see us reading. It does not have to be War and Peace.By reading and sharing books we learn so many things, among them... spelling and grammar.

I see so many children who never read at home, whose parents cannot find time to read with them or to them.Hello!!! It takes ten minutes.... Its supposed to be a pleasure.I cannot think of many things I enjoy more than snuggling up with my sons as either they read to me or I read to them.Is this a 'terribly middle class' affliction? Or is this the reason that so many middle class children go on to be more successful than so called working class children?I am not a snob... there are children from all classes who are neglected in the reading stakes, but it seems to me that ignorance is a torch passed from generation to generation.

A pleasure in reading, education... an interest in expanding one's mind is a recipe for success. We don't all have to be Einsteins, but it is devastating to see children start school with minds that are eager to learn and yet they get no support from home.Is it a coincidence that the brightest children are the ones who have input from home, who read every night, who are encouraged to ask questions, who are shown how to spell correctly?

There seems to be an acceptance that spelling doesn't matter.For me it is the thin end of the wedge.I am not saying 'punish those who spell incorrectly!!!' - I am saying that we should learn correct spellings and have incorrect spellings put right. I know that it is a difficult path - you don't want to discourage children from 'having a go'- but most children, most people, like to get things right.It makes them feel good to write something well and be praised for it.

Correct speech also helps. If you think it is right to say ''Ee don't wanna do vat do 'e ?' then how on earth can you write correctly? If you think that 'think' is pronounced 'fink' how can you begin to spell it? If you have no ambition, no aspiration, no belief that you can ever succeed in life, how can you have the energy to work and succeed?If the people around you show no sense of aspiration, no interest in books or knowledge... how will you know that those things will lead you to a life of inspiration?

If teachers say that spelling and grammar are unimportant where on earth do we stand? We need to inspire children and by inspiring them perhaps they will inspire their own children, lifting them out of the circle of apathy.I firmly believe that any child can achieve, but they need help, they need guidance. By telling them that spelling and grammar are not important, by telling them not to bother we are telling them that it is ok not to aspire to success.

Blimey O'Reilly!! I've really had a good old moan today... I have tried to be honest and I have tried not to make spelling or grammar mistakes. The honesty is indisputable and I aspire to have written a grammatically correct piece!!! Am I mad to think this way?? I am not saying that we all have to be academics - I just would like to see enthusiasm rather than apathy, inspiration rather than denigration.There.Nuff Sed...


Urban Cynic said...

I completely agree with you; with their constant Internet habits, you'd think that children had more help than ever. If you read a lot (whether it be books, magazines or web pages, then you gain some idea of how words should be spelt. The Internet even comes with a bloody automatic spell check!

Although I wasn't read to a lot when I was younger, I loved reading so subconsciously learned how to spell. I also agree that education is the joint responsibility of schools & parents - but mostly parents. I don't think that schools outline the consequences that occur to a lack of education; you just realised that you cant do teacher training without those GCSE's, & I imagine this wasn't mentioned by your school at the time.

Along with the fact that, if you cant spell, keep time, account & take responsibility for yourself then nobody will employ you.

Adults that write LOL, ROFL & PMSL are also to be looked down upon! Grrr... you're not alone Sarah - let's make a stand!

Heather said...

Yes, I agree completely with your post. Spelling is so important! I actually loved spelling way back when I was in school.

Sharon Longworth said...

This is a challenging one for me - I can be as pedantic as anyone about spelling and grammar - and everyone laughs at me for spelling out words in full when I text. But reflecting on the last week at work, where I've had to review a number of reports - all of which were written with perfect spelling and impeccable grammar - but oh, they were incredibly dull and tortuous, with no thought for what the reader needed or wanted to know, or how to express it with a modicum of invention. So I guess I'd say spelling and grammar count, but so do language and excitement and appreciation of audience and purpose.
Gosh - that all sounded a bit prim and disapproving didn't it?
Anyway, thanks for posting this and making me think.

Kork said...

AMEN! I agree with you completely, and cannot stress the importance of proper use of your native tongue - both written and verbal. We started reading out loud to our children before they were even born!

I love reading and spelling, and struggle when my husband has trouble spelling things, or using words that aren't pronounced correctly.

I'm a bit of a language snob, I admit, but every person should have a basic working knowledge of spelling, grammar, and punctuation for the languages they learn to speak...

sarah at secret housewife said...

Thank you all for your comments! I am with you, Sharon, on the balance between correctness and a lively, informed piece of work.Its a difficult call to make for teachers. In an ideal world one would hope for a bit of both!As you can tell, I get very frustrated by the people who abandon their children to the 'system' and do nothing to help them themselves, but I would encourage younger children to be enthusiastic and by the time they reached exam age they should know how to spell and form sentences properly.Unfortunately we don't live in an ideal world. S

FarmWife said...

Grammar has never been my strong suit. Neither has spelling. I blame it entirely on genetics. But I still agree with you. It makes me crazy to read some rants on Facebook that are entirely devoid of the simplest punctuation.

I fear 30 years from now will find a society completely devoid of vocabulary & punctuation.

FarmWife said...

Grammar has never been my strong suit. Neither has spelling. I blame it entirely on genetics. But I still agree with you. It makes me crazy to read some rants on Facebook that are entirely devoid of the simplest punctuation.

I fear 30 years from now will find a society completely devoid of vocabulary & punctuation.

Anonymous said...


Gorilla Bananas said...

Everyone should be taught The Queen's English as soon as they start crawling. Including gorillas.