I love watching the Spelling Bee — despite what a lot of people think, most of the participants will tell you they don’t try to memorize every word in the dictionary. It’s next to impossible and not a good use of time.
Instead, you should brush up on the derivations of words and know all the common prefixes and suffixes. When you get a word you’ve never heard of before, it’s still possible to spell it correctly simply by asking information about the origin of the word from the judges.
It’s about analysis a lot more than it is about memorization.
How relevant is it to real life? Tough question. Though I’d bet most of the kids who do exceptionally well in the Spelling Bee are going to do impressive things in the future. It takes a good brain to understand how to analyze words like that.
I can’t say the same thing about the Bible Bee.
Now the bee concept has gone biblical. Culled from more than 17,000 students ages 7-18, the National Bible Bee finals grilled 21 children on their knowledge of Scripture. The five-hour finals this month were preceded by regional competitions in 49 of the 50 states in September, oral contests and SAT-like tests for 300 contestants.
“Kids are learning to spell words,” Mark Rasche, executive director of the bee, recalled the benefactor saying [about the Spelling Bee]. “That’s great, but there’s no eternal value.”
Apparently, though, there is value in knowing answers to the following:
That list goes on for quite a while…
You can see those questions and more for yourself at the Bee-liever’s Handbook (PDF)
Look at the study materials. This is straight up memorization. You’re not going to work your way to the right answer if you don’t already know it.
That’s why the children who do well at this event don’t impress me as much as the good spellers always do.
I would love to know how the Christian running this thing would react if they knew Muslim children in the Middle East were doing the same thing with the Koran.
At least we can safely say you won’t hear atheists asking children to memorize The God Delusion. You’re welcome to love the book or hate it, agree or disagree, read it or don’t.
More importantly, you can respect the ideas presented in a book. But memorizing one just for the sake of memorizing it? Seems pointless to me.
(Thanks to Deanna for the link!)