The program of Hamilton’s spelling bee writes, “The spelling bee is a highly worthwhile scholastic challenge.” I tend to disagree with this statement for the following reasons: the spelling bee is based on chance, is non-beneficial to one’s academic advances, and promotes unproductive behavior.
“Do you know how to spell the word raspberry?” as a contestant in Hamilton’s spelling bee, I was surprised (and a little insulted) that I was asked this question after the previous competitor was quizzed with the word lackadaisical. This goes to show that the words are picked at random. If a speller is asked a word like entrepreneur and another speller a word like pickles, what is the justice in that? How can the winner be fairly determined? What scholastic challenge is posed to the speller? Even if a deserving person wins the bee, I do not see what the triumph would do for them academically. I could understand if the prize was a scholarship of some sort, but that is simply not the case. Why would you be offered a scholarship for spelling words? Bad spelling has been seen in great thinkers all around the world. Albert Einstein himself had admitted to being a horrible speller.
A brilliant mind cannot be defined by its ability to spell. If you are not already convinced that spelling bees are bothersome, unnecessary, and irrelevant, I will breath but few words to maintain your full attention: A child’s work ethic. When young and impressionable kids see the random success and glamour of a national spelling bee (the prize is $35,000 in cash, a $2,500 savings bond, $3,800 in reference works from Encyclopedia Britannica, and a shiny trophy to fill insanity to its brim), they begin to develop a gambling mentality. Instead of getting a job or going to college, a child will take this idea of showcasing themselves and have nothing to fall back on. This behavior may seem like a phase, but perhaps when parents wake up one morning only to find a thirty-some year old on their couch with a box of Captain Crunch, dreaming of becoming the next America’s Got Talent star, they will realize differently.
Think back to the quote in Hamilton’s program. Does the spelling bee spell out ‘worthwhile’ anymore? Is the justice in it as thick as a dictionary’s pages? Does its influence on young children shine as brightly as the trophy? As you ask yourself these questions, remember, there is an answer to the madness of the spelling bee: Do not particicapate.