When I was in school, I was a good student who had no problems with reading and writing. And, on paper I was a pretty effective speller from the earliest grades. But ask me to spell something out loud, and I could quickly be at a loss for the word. That's why I was never very good at "parent code" either - because when my wife spelled a word that we didn't want the kids to know, I was at as much a loss as the kids. So, the thought of spelling words out loud in front of a group - for a competition - was simply annoying for me. As it was for Brian Regan:
I actually did that - failed "the Bee" on purpose in the early rounds. And I still can't figure out what our national fascination is with this contest. Spelling out loud from memory? What a completely worthless and pointless "skill." There is no marketable or useful quality in the ability to spell from memory on stage. Yet, it's a national fascination, and there is serious prize money associated with it. Why is Scripps still so committed to forking out cash for the ability to recite "e-r-y-t-h-r-o-m-y-c-i-n" from memory? What a colossal waste of time and money?
Why not award the kids for engineering feats? Or creative writing? Best poems? Even a memorized poem with dramatic interpretation? But spelling? It's nothing like "Math Counts" - now that is a school competition that has some value. But how is it that the prize for the Scripps Spelling Bee is $30,000, which is more than Math Counts? A kid who can do complex math in seconds is worth serious cash and college scholarships, and a kid who can spell ... is a kid who can spell.
Seriously. This Spelling Bee thing has to stop.