English Teacher Article Dumbing Down Our Children

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It seems that yet again the standard of teaching, schooling and testing is being questioned. This time it is the test for 11-year-olds that has found itself in the cross-hairs.

More than two million children sat the tests, which include reading, writing, spelling and handwriting as part of an overall examination of English language skills. The results seem to be somewhat disheartening as apparently fewer than half of our children can spell words such as 'effortless' and 'participate' says the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA).

The Times is seriously unimpressed, and understandably so. "Some spelt them as 'efortless' and 'partisipate', while 'knowledge' became 'nolege' and 'thoroughly' was submitted as 'thuruly'".

Head teachers suggest that "Poor teaching practices" are among the reasons for spelling horrors in last year's national English tests; a warning also made by Ofsted, the education watchdog.

The Times prints some remarkable statistics as a result of the analysis by the QCA. Of 215 entries who reached Level 4 (the effective pass mark), 32.5% could spell 'rehearsed' and only 12% could manage to spell 'thoroughly' correctly.

One wonders what the causes might be, and it is easy enough to point the finger of blame at the teachers, but one must surely wonder what has prevented these children from learning. After all, national targets ensure that all children are offered the same curriculum. Well, it is not only the teachers that need to be looked at, the parents have a burden of responsibility here too.

How many of these children have ever read a book, I wonder? How many use a computer for anything other than playing the latest hit game? Do children ever write letters anymore?

Even these tests have been slammed for being made increasingly easy and worthless. If this is the case, what of the future generations?

In a society where increasing areas are being dumbed down, I can't help but feel that unless something is done soon we will have a generation of people on our hands who will communicate in TXT and would only see a pen and paper being used in old films.

Something needs to be done, and quickly.

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5 Comments

Ok, first thing i'd like to state that i was one of those children that is "being dumbed down". All through my life i have been a below average speller, i have been in and out of extra spelling classes. But i do use a computer for other things than playing computer games, and i do read books. I have recently started to write screen plays and a series of short novels. Now if the teachers had spend all their time getting me to spell correctly without the use of a spell checker, they would have been wasting their time. All the work in my a-levels has had to be submitted typed up, this even inlcudes my english language a-level. So whats the big issue about me not being able to spell well without a computer, when i can just use a spell checker? Ok i admit, that is a lazy attitude to take, but i have tried to learn how to spell properly without aid, and it hasn't work. Agreed i will need to be able to spell well for writing exams and application forms. But in exams, as long as the word is readable then it is accepted. And with application forms i have to write a draft of it then go through it with a dictionary (or spellchecker) to make sure it is spelt right. This sounds like more work, but its better than wasting time drilling spellings into little childrens minds. I do agree that people need to be tought how to spell, but not any more that has already been done. The children aren't being dumbed down, they are learning in a differnt age, most 13 year old children can already use the computers better than adults can, and we aren't going to resort back to pen and paper, computers are the way forward. So somthing does need to be done, stop blaming teachers for bad spelling and comend them for the work that their students are producing on computers.

Using a spellcheck does make spelling less important, but a basic awareness of langauge helps, just as calculators don't make a basic understanding of numbers irrelevant. Minor errors aren't important, but there must be some consensus or the language will break down. You can't just spell the way you want- language is shared and there is a need for a central core. It's not the end of the world if you can't spell 'accommodation', but 'thuruly' is moving towards unrecognisable. When this happens, then we are in trouble.

Unfortunately, when you don't have a grasp of spelling you end up using words incorrectly. "Spelt" is a valid word, but it has nothing to do with language, it's a type of wheat.

Using correct sentence structure and proper spelling lessens the chance of someone disregarding your opinion, no matter how well constructed and informed it may be, as totally ignorant. As of 2008, one needs to be able to use a language properly to be taken seriously when communicating in a written medium.

The internet is all about communication, and the vast majority is written. On computers. Using spellcheck. And not even that can help you from using words like "spelt."

Chuck, the use of 'spelt' is in a quote from the Times newspaper and is using a British English word. You can check it here:
http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/spelt?view=uk
It has nothing to do with cereals here.

In the struggle to establish an adequate world government, the teacher has many parts to play... He can do much to prepare the hearts and minds of children for global understanding and cooperation...At the very top of all the agencies which will assure the coming of world government must stand the school, the teacher, and the organized profession. -- National Education Association Journal, 1946

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