(The Federalist) -- I was just six years old when it happened. I showed up for the first grade, fresh-faced and ready to learn, only to have my innocence shattered by a monster from the swamps of expressive individualism. In the dark recesses of my memory, he has remained nameless through all these decades. Some Google searches enabled me to find him: inventive spelling.
Apparently, “inventive spelling” has been controversial for some time as a component of “natural child” educational curricula. I’m not sure how I, a young Idahoan, came to be subjected to it, but I clearly remember being encouraged to decide whether I was a “girl,” “gurl,” or “grrrrrl.” Hooray for creativity! Why shackle yourself to the tyrannical dictates of conventional spelling?
This theory seems to have fizzled in most schools, possibly because it’s idiotic. Words have conventional spellings for a reason: their purpose is to communicate. If we encourage kids to form bad habits, it will be that much harder for them to become capable writers later. This theory’s heyday was evidently brief, but still, it left its mark. My classmates and I can thank our lucky stars that by the time we got to college, spell checkers had come along to cover our shame.
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