Did you all know that I teach (and I mean that in the loosest sense of the word)?
I’m in the middle of writing Fall Term reports and I’m stuck trying to come up with palatable ways of expressing "progress", "achievement" and "challenges" without causing me to grimace, retch, and hide after reading what I’ve written.
I mean how many other ways can I say "Your son just can’t spell."
And I’ll let you in on a little inside joke -- I’m absolutely positive that parents don’t even bother to read the comments I write. They're only interested in seeing their kids’ grades. So what’s the point. In essence, that concise, flowery prose I struggle to write so eloquently ends up lining their trash cans. Beautiful.
On top of having to write comments, I have to calculate grades. Yeah, the whole grading experience – I absolutely despise – terribly inconsistent and a tad bit too subjective for my taste.
I struggle with the idea that Joe Rock’s overall spelling grade is pretty much based on a series of poorly taken tests. He may study, but the reality is that when it comes time to take the test he freezes up – he’s a frustrated mess having to face a blank sheet of paper lined with looming numbers running along the margins knowing full well that it’s a crap shoot no matter how you look at it.
So I end up giving him a mediocre grade for test anxiety? Yikes!
What about the dreadful realization that he simply can’t recognize a misspelled word – it’s a 50/50 proposition for him. Spelling, writing, reading, everything having to do with words comes down to wild guesses based on poorly internalized rules of spelling, mental mispronunciations of words and a fluctuating sense of word recognition. Double yikes!
My frustration comes from not being able jump into his brain and whisper "No dude, it’s S·T·RONG not S·RONG! How in the heck are you saying that word?!"
And don’t get me started on the whacked out spelling exceptions we have throughout the English language. My poor, confused students already have a hell of a time even as I try reassuring them that it really isn’t their fault – our language is just really messed up!
Take for instance, the long ē sound. How many possible letter combinations would you expect it takes to make that happen in some of our words?
Try TEN ways!
And those ridiculous combinations are as follows:
e - as in me
ee – as in jeep
e (with a consonant in between) e – as in Christmas eve
ea – as in meat
ie – as in chief
y – as in baby
i (with a consonant in between) e – as in machine
i – as in variation
ei - as in receive (‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’ and in words that rhyme with ‘day’ – come on and recite along with me!!)
ey – as in key
How’s that for messed up? And don’t get me started on how many combos it takes to create the long ā sound …
(psst ... it’s NINE!)
*sigh* Writing reports. I have to get back to writing reports.
Now how do you spell "spectacular" again …
[FYI - I use Word spellchecker! But look out! Those accursed homonyms get me every time.]
$$$wishes: pretty quiet on that front.
$$$sins: pretty quiet on that one too
$$$goals: "How do spell ‘filthy, stinking rich’?"