As my students were filling in their agendas today and looking over their nightly words, a student raised his hand and questioned, “What does the word choicest mean, and how would you use it in a sentence?” Together we looked up the definition, and struggled to come up with a sentence. It led me to question what is the purpose of learning new words and giving weekly spelling tests?
At my school, we use the SRA Spelling Mastery Program, and it has great benefits for teaching students phonetics and spelling rules, however, at times the word choices boggle my mind. When would a student ever use the word choicest in a sentence? Furthermore, when would I ever use it?
I began to question the reasons for spelling tests and teaching words, and have come to the conclusion that the words must be meaningful in order for them to serve a purpose. As I thought further though, I began to wonder if the implication for teaching spelling words still exists in a technology driven society. We have computers that spell check, and smart phones and tablets that self correct. Is there a place for spelling? Is there a reason to teach words when the answer is given to you with the click of a button?
As I began to look further into this issue, I came across a scholar named Sugata Mitra. He has made the headlines several times it the UK for his controversial belief that lessons in spelling do not have a place in the 21st century, and that phones have made teaching grammar and spelling unnecessary. The man makes a valid point and of course there are highly opinionated views on both sides of the topic, but it is something to think about. Will we continue to teach spelling in the future or are we moving towards a society that does not value it anymore? Is there even a need for it?
Sugata Mitra has an interesting Ted Talk about where the future of schools are heading, and his ideal “School in the Cloud.” Watch the video below and share your thoughts. It might seem unrealistic, but then again who would have thought we would be where we are today with technology? Maybe he isn’t so far off.