Spelling Matters

2 02 2014

There is a vocal group of educators right now who are promoting content over conventions.  Their point is that we spend too much time teaching children conventions (spelling, grammar, punctuation) and not enough on the content of what they are trying to communicate.  While I agree that we as teachers don’t need to overdo the grammar and spelling lessons, it is to the point that we are being urged not to evaluate a student’s writing based on conventions at all.  Don’t count off for spelling as long as you can tell what it is that the child is trying to say.

I was grading essays today on the Great Depression and came across this sentence, “Then a Dust Bowel happened.”  That sentence was followed by one that said, “The dust storm killed all the framers crops.”

Of course, I knew that the child was not talking about bowels or framers.  But that didn’t stop those images from going through my mind.  And if we allow a child to write like this, will he be likely to correct it when he gets older?  Practice makes permanent.  Spelling matters.  It’s not the only thing we should focus on, but we should not lose our focus of developing effective communication.  And that means organization, content, voice, AND conventions.

Methinks the pendulum hath swung two far.  Their, they’re, it will be alright.