There is a new way of working at my children’s school. My son, aged six, is given a set of tasks at the beginning of the week and is expected to complete them, on his own and without being nagged, by the end of the week. If he doesn’t, he has to finish the work at home. Last Friday was the first week he managed this and he was very proud of himself (as was I) and he was rewarded with the promise (bribe) of going to the shop to choose some chocolate. This system has worked well for him in the past, for example when he didn’t want to get in the pool at his swimming lesson.
I am pleased with the school’s stance as I believe it will help him in later life. I do not want him to be unable to self-start or show initiative when he is writing essays or in his first job. I am also hoping this will help with home life—he has already been threatened that he will go to school in whatever state of undress we find him in at 8.30 am as we’ve become fed up of reminding him to get ready for school.
My daughter, aged nine, is better at doing things independently. She is in the process of embroidering a butterfly for a Brownie competition and I’ve had to remind her to hurry up so she meets the deadline (I’m always finishing things at the eleventh hour, so I understand) but she is now remembering to do it of her own accord. She is being encouraged to edit her work at school and rewrite it if it contains spelling mistakes or is not neat enough. She says she gets cross with herself when she sees mistakes in her work. Madam doesn’t make too many mistakes and has been known to spot mistakes in books and magazines. She is lucky because, like me, she looks at a word once and can then spell it.
Earlier in the year, Andrew Selous, the MP for Leighton Buzzard criticised schools for correcting a maximum of three spelling mistakes in a pupil’s work, claiming that teachers are worried about damaging children’s self-esteem. According to ITV News, he believes that this is “an act of false kindness” and will damage children’s prospects once they leave school.
The article states: “Mr Selous said he believed the coalition Government had not issued guidance stipulating children should be marked leniently but thought it was an old policy which schools had been too slow to drop.” I certainly agree that children need to be able to recognise mistakes—I refused to do geography O-level as my teacher never corrected our mistakes so we only had incorrect work to learn from for tests. Attention to detail is important in all subjects, and all walks of life.
Mistakes in adult working life could be life-threatening, for example mistakes on prescriptions—there is a big difference between hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia, and hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. False ID cards for members of the resistance during World War II had to be accurate because of the danger the carriers were in and errors would give the game away. Mistakes on CVs give a bad impression and CVs go in the bin because the applicants appear to be careless. In this digital age, we must remember that spellcheck is not infallible.
There is an old joke about a single spelling mistake that caused a divorce. A man went to Goa and sent the following SMS to his wife:
“Having the most wonderful time of my life. Wish you were her (here).”
Punctuation is just as important. There is a world of difference between the following two sentences:
Let’s eat Grandma
Let’s eat, Grandma.
I’m off to double-check and triple-check that I haven’t made mistakes in this post!