D-U-H

The Christian Science Monitor reports a resurgence of interest in spelling in American classrooms, a subject which, according to author and spelling zealot Richard Gentry, was dealt a setback by whole-language instruction in the 1980s. Recent emphasis on basic skills has prompted "more teachers to return to explicit spelling instruction - instead of simply assuming that it's a skill that kids will pick up as they go along." According to Gentry, "Spelling . . . is proving much more important than we've ever thought it to be." Welcome, folks - reality is where Gadfly has lived for years (though we only learned to spell it recently). Unfortunately, as matters alphabetic improve here, they're deteriorating across the pond. The London Telegraph reports that 600,000 English 14-year-olds won't be penalized for incorrect spelling on their major writing exam, mainly because "ministers are particularly concerned about exam results this year." English teacher Andrew Cunningham noted, "All teachers are having to spend time going over these basics, which should have been sorted out at an earlier age." So, although the Brits beat us in math (see "This PISA is falling"), we'll put our money on the U.S. in the event of a trans-Atlantic spelling bee.

"Spelling makes a comeback," by Stacy A. Teicher, Christian Science Monitor, May 17, 2005

"Incorrect spelling will not be penalised in English tests," by Julie Henry, London Telegraph, May 17, 2005