21 August 2008

worth ur weight in words

it has come to my attention that there is a debate going regarding the english language and its counter-intuitive grammar and phonics system. should we let struggling students get away with easier spelling and grammar?

english is not a very phonetic language. as far as i know, its one of the most difficult languages to learn (at least the written part). norwegian is a phonetic language. every letter has a sound and every sound has a letter. no letter has more than one sound and no sound has more than one letter. words are written the way they sound. (pretty much).

being a teacher that has worked, and is still working with, the special ed. population, i see how kids struggle every day to learn to read and write. much more so in english than in norwegian.

but most disturbing to me is this;

its not the reading and/or writing difficulties that lead these kids into depression, frustration and low self esteem. its the feeling of failure compared to other students. its the stamp they get on their heads of not being "smart enuff" or of being less worth as a person because they struggle with letters that leads these students to drop out of school, to act out towards other ppl, to loose hope in their future, to loose faith in themselves and to doubt their own self worth. it breaks my heart everytime.

how absurd is this? we judge an entire group of ppl meerly based on their ability to use correct spelling and grammar? should we not make all ppl feel accepted regardless of their abilities? should we not help everyone feel included and worthy? if u never see them spell, would u think differently of them? should they feel differently about u based on looks, weight or financial abilities?

why does it matter anyway? are ur thoughts more worth than mine because u use proper english? are u more valuable as a human being because u can put one letter infront of the other according to a standardized system better than i can? should i feel inferior to u because i cant or wont capitalize my i's? should i judge u as an illiterate because u dont write well in my language? (how is ur norwegian these days)?

what is important? the outside, superficial stuff like how u look, how u write or how u spell "night". or do we believe all ppl have an intrinsic value regardless of all the wrapping? i choose to be less superficial and judgemental and more understanding and accepting. i want u to know that when ur with me, u can feel safe to be who u are.

maybe i know something u dont know...but if u cant see past my grammar, then how are u going to find out?


SassyFemme said...

I think there's a difference between making exceptions for struggling/Sp.Ed./ESL students, and those in general ed. who CAN learn, but don't apply themselves, or don't take the time to use spell check. At some point there has to be some standard of "correctness." Academic writing, technical writing, and formal business communication are examples of times when I think it's important to use proper grammar and spelling. Online communication, not so important, IMO.

It's also different in those settings if English is not the person's first language, and there are mistakes, that's forgivable, but someone should still check it. Example of that... Fran works in a business with people who are from India, Russia, China and Mexico. Really, it's the United Nations of small businesses. When there's business communication or technical writing done, and it's not written properly, particularly the usage, it's confusing for their customer, looks unprofessional, and projects a bad image of the company.

What about published books, including textbooks? Shouldn't there be a standard of correct spelling and grammar in them? IMO, there should be.

Really, I think it's a whole different case for SpEd and ESL/ELL, but for the general population, I think it's fair to expect a reasonable standard of spelling and grammar, and the ability to use spell check.

That said, mine isn't perfect, it's far from it, especially punctuation, but I know where to go when I need to get things checked over, and I care enough to get it checked.

eb said...

I agree what is inside is much more important than what is on the outside. Yet, I understand why people judge a book by the cover because it's the easy thing to do. In order to find out what is going on inside, you actually have to do some work. You have to take interest and you have to go beyond what you think you see to unwrap what is really there.

This is a very difficult thing for many people to do. I struggle with it every day. I certainly don't want to judge people based on superficial bullshit, but there are times I do and I have to step back and scold myself for being such a jerk. It's hard.

Usually the right thing to do, which also tends to be the simplest thing to do, is also the hardest thing to do. Why is that? I don't know.

SassyFemme said...

BTW, I'm not discounting the idea of getting to know someone for who they are on the inside, not on the outside. I think that's important, too.

otter said...

if ewe only spell a wurd the 'correct' way, u have no imagination!