Posted in Commentary

I put a spell on you

So I’m driving past an elementary school on the way home for lunch Wednesday, and it has one of those message boards in front that says “Hot coco with the principal.”

And just like that, my day was ruined.

It’s “cocoa,” damn it!  If you google “coco,” you’ll find photos of a hot one, but she has no business doing anything with an elementary school principal while actually at school, and furthermore, it’s probably not something you want to advertise to all who pass by.

I have long since gotten over the idea that the rest of the world shares my love and facility for proper spelling.  If I hadn’t, I would barely be able to leave my house, because, let’s face it, the world as it presents itself through the public written word gives the impression of nothing so much as a drunken illiterate.  Or maybe a LOLcat.

I’m not even talking about typos, which can be made by anyone, including myself.  I’m talking genuine misunderstandings of the language, in both its usage and appearance.  You can always tell the difference.  At least, I can.

I can forgive a lot, but I CANNOT forgive such errors on the public sign of a school.  A SCHOOL.  Here we have an institution that presumes to educate children in reading, writing, and arithmetic, not to mention science, history, and, yes, spelling, and they can’t even get their own sign spelled right?  What’s sadder is that I see it all the time, and it makes me very glad that my children are the furry, four-footed kind, and I don’t have to contend with choosing a good school for my kids from candidates that are mediocre at best.  I don’t think it’s too much to ask that those who consider themselves educators should be able to spell.  That to me would be kind of one of those “minimum qualification”-type things.

And lest you think such a travesty of education is only perpetrated by failing public schools, I will share with you that that wasn’t the first such error I saw this week.  The other was on the sign in front of the Christian private school I drive past every day.  Evidently, one of their sports teams is playing Boboquivari this week; however, the name of the school is actually “Baboquivari.”  It’s a common enough place name around these parts.  There’s no excuse.  I saw the error going by at 40 mph, still half asleep on a Monday morning.  How did they miss it?

I kind of hope some justice-minded kid attending either of those schools, one who got dinged on a paper for spelling mistakes, takes her teacher by the hand, drags him or her out to the front of the school, points to the sign, and asks why it matters that she doesn’t spell correctly when her supposed adult betters can’t be arsed to.

It’s a valid question, no?

It is true that not everyone has a natural talent for internalizing and applying the wild, wacky spelling rules of the English language, and it is also true that spelling ability does not correlate directly to general intelligence.  However, the truly intelligent person who can’t spell is aware of her/his deficiency, and will make use of the myriad tools that exist in the world to assist her/him:  spell-check, dictionaries, Google, or better spellers in their acquaintance.  There are many easily accessible paths to orthographic rectitude.

Bad public spelling does, however, correlate directly to being a slackass.  And if those who dare to claim the title of “educator” can’t spell “cocoa,” your kids are in greater academic danger than you ever imagined, and I’ve got 2 words for you:  Home School.

**Special note for CD swappers:  My post about my playlist will be up next Friday, 12/18.  You should have received the mix by then.**

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Author:

I've been doing some form of creative writing since 9th grade, and have been a blogger since 2003. Like most bloggers, I've quit blogging multiple times. But the words always come back, asking to be written down, and they pester me if I don't. So here we are. Thanks for reading.

7 thoughts on “I put a spell on you

  1. Excellent observation. Too bad I, as a product of such schools, didn’t realize “coco” was a misspelling until you pointed it out. The thing is, I understood the phrase, so the sign was effective at getting its message across. No harm, no foul… right?

    1. I guess that depends on whether you see language as merely a tool of communication, or an art. I’m into artful communication, which is why I type out all the words (and all of each word) when I text people.

  2. When my son was in school, his English grades went down one year and I made an appointment with his teacher to try to find out where he needed improvement since she never sent work home I could check. His teacher pulled out a folder of his work and showed me numerous spelling errors he’d made. Immediately I saw that she was marking words wrong which were actually correct. For example, he wrote “receive” and she marked it wrong. I asked her about this and she insisted the correct spelling was “recieve”. I informed her of the correct spelling which Brent had used properly. She argued with me, saying I was wrong, too. So I made an appointment with the principal and included her in the meeting. I made my case, which was backed up by the principal, and insisted Brent be placed in another class. The whole situation was appalling to me.

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