“Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” ~~ Jewish Philosopher Maimonides~~
Back in the day, there was a catchphrase, Reading is Fundamental, which was also the name of a children’s literacy non-profit organization. Even though the organization is still around, you don’t hear that phrase like you did when I was a kid. Well, I think we need a Spelling is Fundamental initiative too. One of the most frustrating behaviors in others is when they routinely ask me how words are spelled. Young children get a pass. Adults have a role of teaching children, even if the children are not your own. But grown people should work on improving their literacy skills and use the many tools available to help them. That includes learning how to be a better speller.
I have a colleague who is a bad speller and this person spends half the day asking people how to spell one word or another. Normally I just spell the word for this person. But it has become annoying. ANNOYING! You hear me? I don’t mind helping people. Really I don’t. In fact, I think I was put on this earth to help others. But I think being a better speller is something you can learn how to do, just like having good grammatical skills – and it’s never too late, you’re never too old to learn. I am not a fan of helping people when they can do things to help themselves.
Today when this person asked me how to spell something, I offered Google up as a tool for assistance. It’s really neat actually, in case you didn’t know. If you can sound out part of the word and begin typing in Google’s search box (the words today were aggregate and engagement), Google will fill in what it thinks you’re trying to spell. My colleague didn’t know about that and was in total awe to find out. I’ve told a few people about that feature of Google. If you didn’t realize it, try it out today.
Using that Google tool is a smarter method than merely telling the person how to spell the word because 1) you won’t always have people around whom you can ask when you can’t spell something; and 2) it is empowering. I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t want to have to ask someone how to spell something every time I had trouble. I’m thankful my mom was an educator and she made a point of ensuring I could spell and learned proper grammatical rules. It has made me into a word nerd/snob. I play lots of word games and I’m a proud subscriber to Merriam-Webster’s podcast. Like I said earlier, you’re never too old to improve, and I always try to practice what I preach.