Behind the Headline: Vocabulary Section Adds Meaning to National Spelling Bee

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Vocabulary Section Adds Meaning to National Spelling Bee
USA Today| 5/28/13

Behind the Headline
Competition Makes a Comeback
Education Next |Summer 2010

The 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee opens this week with a twist: for the first time, competitors will be tested on vocabulary in addition to spelling.  The final rounds will be broadcast on ESPN starting Thursday evening.  June Kronholz wrote about the popularity of spelling bees and other academic competitions in the Summer 2010 issue of Education Next.

Today’s teachers generally cringe at everything about that development. All those hours spent on one narrow academic focus! All that rote learning! All that stressful competition! And if some children shine on that national stage, what about the self-esteem of every other child whose luster is publicly shown to be not as bright?

Good points, perhaps. But they haven’t slowed the apparent growing interest among middle schoolers in the Scripps spell-off or any of the other bees, bowls, and academic olympiads that will climax in national championships this spring.

George Thampy, who won the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 2000, was interviewed by Ed Next’s Marty West in this video.

-Education Next

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