Archive for the ‘School’ Category

In the age of automation, how relevant is SpellingBee for the future generation?

Friday, January 15th, 2010

SpellingBee – A tradition that started somewhere around 1875 as fun and friendly exercise is becoming irrelevant in the information age by the minute. I got that realization when my 9 year old nephew didn’t have to know the exact spelling to a word while typing his school home work in Microsoft Word.

So, is the SpellingBee

spelling bee

heading into a Web …..biting the dust?


Over the decades until 1980s, with heavy use of Typewriters and less intelligent early computers, spelling accurately carried its cache. In the age we live in with teens spending 80% to 90% of their writing either on a computer or on a cell phone/text, how relevant is Spelling for the next generations? I proved my case if you know these acronyms – LOL, JK, TC, TXT or these emoticons – ;) , :( and so forth …..

Unlike the title suggests, the issue at hand is much larger than Irrelevant SpellingBee …..

Over the years, in the civilized world, we have dropped few habits and picked up some newer ones –

For example …..

During the early days of Automobile, drivers mentally calculated the distance they were traveling and made sure there is a gas station (near by) or have enough gas for their trip. Today, we get an alert in our dash board when we have 1/4th tank.

We used to manage our circadian rhythms to wake ourselves in the morning and now depend on Alarm clocks.

I used to remember all the phone numbers of my friends and family. Today, I need to look up my address book even for my own number, sometimes.

While driving I don’t have to remember which way I go to my destination. My GPS takes me where ever I want and brings me back home.

This generation has lesser physical activities than the previous generation – as part of their day to day routine.

We live an age of abundance and automation. We can get away giving less work for our brain to get through our day than ever before. While some of us are making use of that unused brain power for more complex thinking where as most of us relish the opportunity not to use the brain power at all.

The issue is not how much of memory or brain power we use but how we use it and what are the long term physiological and biological implications of that change. For example, what part of our brain or memory do we use when we remember and retrieve phone numbers and directions? Would that activity be replaced with something else to keep those parts of the brain active and sharp? In the book Think Smart author Richard Restak suggests that all parts our brain need regular exercise to avoid neurological and other ailments at later stages of our life.

Just the way current generation Gyms and Workout franchises have made their way to get us into shape, should we have clinics and gyms for training and keeping our brain and its parts active?





effw circuit women in gym

Just the way Physical labor (where you get paid for physical activities) replaced by Gyms (where you pay to get physical activities) in the desktop age, are we to see businesses where we pay to use our brain and keep our memory sharp in the near future?

I think governments, universities and educational institutions should collaborate with citizens to refine and redefine school curriculum based changing market needs – on a 3 to 5 year basis.

I will leave with you a fascinating talk by Ken Robinson who talks about a complete overhaul of our current education system at TED Conference.



Opinions expressed are mine own