Art of lucidity a worthier ambition

By Heather McCracken

Spelling was a common part of school homework when I was at primary school.

A small notebook was taken home every night with a spelling list to spell from memory.

Like times-tables, learning spelling was a test of memory, rather than learning a theory through use of different examples.

Now research has shown that spelling lists are not as effective for learning spelling as teaching an understanding of phonetics, to help children identify sounds within words, and teaching the spelling of prefixes and suffixes.

As the researcher in our story on p5 says, it's like giving children the code, rather than asking them to learn every word in isolation.

I have never been particularly good at spelling - which may be an unwise admission from the editor of a newspaper.

One of my more regrettable errors as a young graduate was misspelling the word "meticulous" in a job application.

Needless to say, I didn't get the job.

But while spelling is certainly important in my line of work - and very important for job applicants - being able to communicate well is even more important.

It's fair to say that many of the letters and submissions we receive have spelling errors.

They are easily corrected.

What's not easy to fix is poor communication, or the inability to make a clear argument, and concisely and accurately write it down.

While it's certainly good that schools are finding new and effective ways of teaching spelling, it's also important students learn how to think things through, and then clearly communicate what they're thinking.


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