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Oh, I thought of one more thing that's goofed up about the spelling bee. The degree of difficulty in getting to the national bee varies widely throughout the nation (and that's an understatement). For instance, Georgia, a state of nearly 10 million, sends only one contestant to the national bee (except for the Augusta area, which has its own small bee). OTOH, South Carolina, which has less than half the population of GA, sends 6. By that measure, GA should send at least 12. Now let's take Indiana, a state of 6+ million that sends 12 (yes, 12) contestants. To have the same level of difficulty as IN, GA should be sending about 20 contestants. So, that means that if you live in GA, it's basically 20 times harder to get to the NSB than if you live in IN. How fair is that? That also means that these two hard-working young men, Karl and Rohan, would basically have already achieved enough to make it to the national bee if they lived in IN. But because they live in GA, they have to slug it out with 18 other kids from around the state next week just to earn GA's lone spot. Insane. In fact, if Karl and Rohan lived in another state, they would've probably made it to the national bee a couple of times already, I suspect.
If parents are going to enter their kids in a contest, they should at least pick one whose format is fundamentally fair and in which the role of luck is minimized. As it stands, entering one's kids in the spelling bee is a lot like casting pearls before swine IMO. Of course, I don't expect all the talented, hard-working kids to be able to see through the many problems of the spelling bee, but adults certainly should.
The spelling bee is child abuse. It exploits kids for entertainment value. It's not about finding who's the best speller--if it were, they would give everyone the same words, and the person with the highest score would win. It's first and foremost a show. A former pronouncer at the National Spelling Bee, Dr. Cameron, even admitted that. And a past national spelling bee champion, Blake Giddens in 1983, said the bee is "mostly luck and some skill."
In addition, Morris Freedman, a former English professor at the University of Maryland, had the following to say about the spelling bee:
"Spelling bees feed the American lust for instant winners, instant celebrities and instant virtue....[They] only confuse genuine learning with the high jinks that get one into Guinness record books."
At the very least, the kids deserve a fair contest, which the spelling bee is not. Why not just have kids just memorize the digits of pi? Kids would be far better off spending their time cultivating holistic language skills, such as learning a foreign language, than spending hours on a skill with such limited scope.
While I'm not a fan of the spelling bee, which I feel is an inherently unfair competition that exploits/abuses kids for entertainment value, I definitely applaud the spellers and all their hard work. Congratulations to Karl and Rohan (as well as all the other spellers for making it this far), and I wish them the best in the state competition next month. Regardless of how they place, I just hope they have a blast.
Another sad chapter in the history of the spelling bee. Honestly, I feel sorry for these hard-working kids. When are people going to wake up and realize that so much luck is involved with the spelling bee that it's almost a joke? For instance, the top two spellers at this competition last year did not make the top two this year, even though they're both only 6th-graders, I believe. Didn't the Gwinnett County champ Garimella finish 3rd at the state bee last year? I have little doubt that he was probably the best speller at today's competition, but unfortunately luck can be very cruel thing to kids at the spelling bee. Everybody should have to spell the same words--otherwise, how can you really compare the spellers? Give them all a test of 100 words, and you'll probably get the best speller over 95% of the time. I feel very sorry for Garimella--this must be a very painful loss for him to swallow. I sure hope he has supportive parents.
Congrats to the winner and the runner-up, though. I hope they enjoy the ride, because you never know what strange luck the spelling bee will throw at you.
Last login: Friday, March 1, 2013