Friday, June 02, 2006

The National Spelling Bee

Yay, girls! Yay New Jersey!

I'm a geek. I watched the National Spelling Bee last night with my husband, and we kept our two daughters, ages 5 & 8, up until after 10 watching with us.

I cried for almost every kid who was knocked out. I got most of the words wrong, unless they were French or Italian in origin, had anything to do with music or Turkish rugs. I might have known a perfume word or two as well, but didn't hear a single one.

After one kid spelled his word wrong and was sent to go sit with his parents, the announcers were talking about what a great job he had done - I think he was somewhere in the top 10 or 11 spellers. The man I can only describe as the "color announcer," who apparently won the National Spelling Bee in 1990, said "Yeah, he did good."

My eight year old daughter turned to me and said "'He did GOOD?!?!'" I said, yeah, that's what I heard him say. She said "They should have a grammar bee."

I'm not sure what's behind the sudden focus on spelling bees in this country. A rash of movies and documentaries made this the first National Spelling Bee with Prime Time coverage in all its 79 years. I have not yet seen Akeelah and the Bee, nor have I seen Bee Season, but I did watch Spellbound, the documentary. I was pleased to note last night that most of the kids in the top ten seemed like fairly normal kids, with other interests and activities. It makes me sad when kids are pushed so hard for so long in one direction, when there can only be one winner. The fact that any of those kids were there is a testament to their dedication. This contest is open to kids between the ages of 10-14 in all English speaking countries in the world. In the final round, the only country represented aside from the US was Canada, with a 14-year old girl who came in 2nd. I don't know what other countries were represented among the 279 kids who started the competition.

I think competition is healthy, as long as it doesn't consume the kids. Parents for the most part seemed supportive and thrilled for their children, regardless of where they placed. I tend to watch for the opposite.

In this world of email and IM abbreviations which manage to find their way into business correspondence, I can only think a focus on spelling is a good thing. Unfortunately, I don't believe the National Spelling Bee is making many adults actually use their dictionaries, if they even own one. More parents though, I bet, are spelling with their kids over breakfast.

But when a National Spelling Bee Champion from 1990 goes on National Prime Time TV and says "He did good," I believe we still have a long way to go.


Blogger PFG said...

I don't like spelling bees. Not in concept and not in practice. And yeah, I guess spelling real good doesn't necessarily mean talking real good (part of what I don't like about them).

12:37 AM, June 03, 2006  
Blogger Kyahgirl said...

hi sweetie


5:10 PM, June 03, 2006  
Blogger PFG said...

Yeeeha, back to the blog! Come know you want to.

Copy and paste the questions. Delete my answers. Delete question #1 and shift all of the remaining 19 questions up one space. Add your own 20th question, then answer all 20 questions. Pass it on to 4 other people.

1) Why am I doing this?
Because I can....
2) Do you remember playing 45s?
3) What is the worst band you ever liked?
Duran Duran
4) Have you ever done the macarena?
5) Are there books/magazines are currently in your bathroom? (if yes, what?)
an Italian/English dictionary, a book on the history of tarot, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, an ephemeris, Bad Cat.
6) Have you ever done one of those embarrassing group dances at weddings?
7) Coffee or tea?
8) Whip or no whip?
No whip.
9) Did you ever have an imaginary friend and if so, what was he/she/it named?
10) Do you know how to perform the Heimlich Maneuver?
11) Do you still celebrate your birthday?
As often as possible.
12) Do you or have you ever cross dressed? (women in overalls and men in kilts don’t count)
13) What is the worst food you ever ate?
Some kind of curried albino broccoli thing.
14) How old were you when you had your first real kiss?
15) Have you had your 15 minutes of fame?
I’ve had about 9 seconds – I was the background footage on CNN once and someone related a conversation with me (anonymously) on NPR.
16) What is the longest you ever went without sleep for?
I think it was about 40 hours. It might have been longer, but I don't remember.
17) If your hair could be any color, what would it be?
Deep pink/purple.
18) What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
Fudge brownie thing.
19) Wax, bleach, pluck, or shave?
All of the above.
20) If you were a super hero, what would your power be?
Showing people how others see them.

1:22 AM, June 05, 2006  
Blogger WriterChick said...

I want a grammar bee! Or Grammar Jeopardy "What is something that dangles from my participle, Alex?"

2:55 PM, June 12, 2006  

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