Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Can Our Teachers Spell?

This story comes out of Australia, but I have no doubt that this is true in a lot of the western world, including in the U.S.  Today's teachers are remarkably deficient in both spelling and grammar, according to tests performed by an Australian news program.  Three different generations were tested for spelling and grammar proficiency, and the newer the generation, the lower the average score.  To put the matter in an even starker light, the questions that teachers failed on were ones that your average 7th grader should know.

I'm troubled, but not surprised.  I find spelling and grammar mistakes all the time, that should be fairly easy to avoid, while reading articles online.  But I am by no means perfect.  An astute wordsmith can probably find at least one error with my grammar in this post alone.  But I do try my best to be coherent and to spell properly.  I do feel that today's person is a little too reliant on spell-check.  It's gotten to the point where writing something on my iPod or cell phone will be automatically corrected for me, even if I didn't solicit assistance from the AI.  But I do feel that an even bigger culprit appears to be people's reluctance to read an old-fashioned book.  In this country, people seem to be notoriously averse to reading, and I doubt that feeling changes much even if you go up the educational ladder.  The visual medium (movies, TV, games) has really taken over in a big way for the vast majority of people.  And for those who do read, it's usually some variant of pop-fiction, like Twilight, Harry Potter, or the latest James Patterson novel.  I mean, it's better than not reading at all, but I do feel that the average adult should strive for a deeper reading experience than one that a 7th grader could have no problem with reading. 

For the record, the last few books I've read were "Catcher in the Rye", and I'm about to start "The Berlin Years", a series of short stories about life in pre-WWII Germany, that was listed on the "Times 100" list of the best English-language books written in the 20th century.  But I'd also recently read the 5th installment in the Harry Potter series, so I'm not immune to a harmless, easy read. 

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