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Spelling Bee stings Jaipur college girls
In an inter-college competition ‘Spectrum-13’ organized at the Jaipur-based Biyani Girls College at Vidyadhar Nagar last week end, besides performing arts, this year a spelling competition was also included in the programme, reported Rajasthan Patrika. The chief guest at the two-day event, in which local colleges participated, was Praveen Nahata - a senior manager of Rajasthan Patrika.

The news made me think about the futility of spelling bee competition for college girls to promote English language and its mechanical aspect through a competition. Emphasis on spelling of the uncommon words which one hardly uses in daily life makes mind mechanical and promotes rote learning.

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Recently, Andrew Jackson has rightly said, “It is a damn poor mind that can think of only one way to spell a word.” In the similar vein, long ago, Mark Twain had said, “Anyone who can only think of one way to spell a word obviously lacks imagination.”

Much publicized by the American reality shows, in spelling bee competitions, the contestants are asked to spell a broad selection of unusal and uncommon words with an increasing level of difficulty in successive rounds. The first National Spelling Bee in US was organized in Washington, D.C. in 1925 in which school children participated. Presently, due to media hype, spelling bee competitions are being imitated in many countries.

I too think that both competition and emphasis on spelling words can masculanize girls and undermine their natural potential of sharing and caring which needs to be equally respected for learning. We need to emphasize cooperation rather competition in learning since it is a social process.

Competitions and emphasis on spelling make girls feelingless brutes. M.F. Moonzajer explains it rightly when he narrates an experience of a sincere lover who says, “I gave her a love letter and she returned it back to me by correcting spelling and punctuation.”

A spelling bee is a competition in which contestants are asked to spell a broad selection of words, usually with a varying degree of difficulty. The idea of spelling bee has originated in the US, and such events, along with some variants, are now also held in many countries around the world.

The first official spelling bee was organized in Washington, D.C. in 1925. In India, US-based ‘Horizons Unlimited’ organization had held the first official Spelling Bee contest for children in Kerala in 2011. Now, at the school levels, the idea seems to be catching up as we believe in imitating in institutions what is being shown on the TV or YouTube.

However, serious pedagogues, feminists and well-meaning psychologists believe that Spelling Bee is more of a stupid reality show and a trivia contest than a pure academic challenge to learners. They often express that most good writers are good thinking and feeling individuals and often don't happen to be good spellers.

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