Yesterday was the 5th-grade spelling bee at the kiddos' school. And they were two of the 12 or so kids to compete, having scored highest in the grade on the qualifying test. They weren't terribly enthusiastic about it, didn't obsessively study or anything.
And I was a nervous wreck.
But there we all were yesterday--the contestants, the whole 5th grade, the parents, and several teachers and staff. I realized quite quickly--actually, I knew it from my own elementary school class spelling bees--that these contests were as much about mastering your nerves as the English language. And so it proved. The majority of the children (most of whom I know, being in the accelerated class with the kiddos) could spell the words they went out on. They rushed or got lost in the middle or misspoke without realizing it. Ugh. Agonizing to watch, even after our two were eliminated. Perhaps especially as it got closer to the end with four really confident and competent spellers.
And then, one by one, they went down and there was a winner. And I think the majority of us were glad it was over.
I mean, really, when do you ever need to spell a word aloud? Seriously, we're hardly responsible for our own spelling at any point because of autocorrect. It's an old-timey skill that we still encourage in kids, despite the lack of necessity. Interestingly, Mama's European coworkers say there aren't, for instance, German spelling bees (is that because their spelling makes sense??). That said, the real skills--mastering a body of knowledge, keeping your cool under pressure, being a good sport even after you've lost--are very important. And ones that I definitely believe should be encouraged.
I just don't need to watch it in real time. I've already suggested they throw next year's qualifying test. But both said it was fun and that they'd be glad to do it again!