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Professor says kids no longer need to learn spelling and grammar because of smartphones

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Professor says kids no longer need to learn spelling and grammar because of smartphones

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The Daily Caller

Several skills that every kid once learned in school are going the way of the dodo in a hurry. Diagramming sentences is practically an extinct art, for example. Cursive handwriting and memorized multiplication tables look to be swiftly headed that way.

Apparently, the next thing that kids will no longer need to learn is spelling and grammar.

Sugata Mitra, a professor of educational technology at Newcastle University in northeast England, announced that traditional language rules are out of fashion, reports the Daily Mail. Kids don’t need to waste time on those things, see. State-of-the-art computers and mobile phones can make the necessary corrections.

Spelling and grammar are “a bit unnecessary because they are skills that were very essential maybe 100 years ago but they are not right now,” Mitra said. “Firstly, my phone corrects my spelling so I don’t really need to think about it and, secondly, because I often skip grammar and write in a cryptic way.”

The professor made the anti-spelling proclamation at a time when the British government is rolling out a host of educational standards including one that will require students to take a spelling test involving 200 complex words near the end of grade school.

Another exam for 11-year-olds that tests spelling, grammar and punctuation was launched this year.

Mitra is big enough in the world of education that there is a Wikipedia page about him.

He has won a $1 million TED Prize to found “cloud schools,” notes the Mail. The goal is to allow children to learn from each other and from retired specialists.

In 1999, Mitra conducted a famous set of experiments known as the Hole in the Wall experiments. He set up computer kiosks in poor areas of India where kids could play with computers. The goal was to show that kids could learn to use computers and the internet with no formal training—even without knowing English.

The Hole in the Wall experiments moved an Indian diplomat named Vikas Swarup to write a novel called “Q & A” about an impoverished waiter in Mumbai who becomes the biggest quiz show winner in history. The book later became the Oscar-winning movie “Slumdog Millionaire.”

by on Aug. 4, 2013 at 7:45 PM
Replies (11-20):
by on Aug. 5, 2013 at 10:03 AM

Writing in a cryptic was isn't communicating, unless someone gets it.  Writing in code is communicating, because there are rules to be followed.  During my student teaching, the 4th grade teacher I worked with had to write reports on all my lessons and assess me.  BIG difference between assess and asses, both are legit spellings of words.  Language is an evolving thing, there is no stopping that, but you need to still follow some rules because communication doesn't work if the person on the receiving end doesn't understand what the transmitter is trying to get across.  As far as time and effort spent on spelling and grammar, I agree that it's too much and done almost wholly out of context.  I'm a slacker in that realm, I don't spend a lot of time on spelling or grammar, I feel we get a lot of it intuitively through our reading, and I'll just explain as we go along.  But spelling and grammar is important.  Very important.  :)

by on Aug. 5, 2013 at 10:09 AM
2 moms liked this
Is that y my children do not have a smart phone ages 14; 11
by on Aug. 5, 2013 at 11:38 AM

He needs to be fired! The core subjects are the most important things to teach your children! 

by Julia on Aug. 5, 2013 at 12:01 PM
Exactly!!! I have to admit, i have a lot to learn still, but it's really scary that this is coming from a professor!

Quoting gratefulgal:

Awful. Isn't there a quote somewhere about sitting passively by and the dumbing down of society? It would make us completely dependent on a computer/ Ipad/ Smartphone/ etc., which to many is still something out of grasp. Instead of educating people as a whole, we are working to make the social/ class divide even larger. Very sad, and does not bode well for the future. "Wait, let me pull out my smart phone so that I can communicate with you, sir, because I forgot how to speak in sentences and not abbreviations." grrr.

by on Aug. 5, 2013 at 1:17 PM
1 mom liked this

 I loved his hole in the wall experiment & I think they have taken what he said out of context.

by Group Admin on Aug. 5, 2013 at 1:36 PM


Quoting Christie1952:

He needs to be fired! The core subjects are the most important things to teach your children! 

 His comments were taken out of context and exaggerated.

by Gold Member on Aug. 5, 2013 at 2:01 PM
1 mom liked this

I can tell you that my children are being drilled for their spelling and math facts. I feel that it is important to teach proper grammar, beacause grammar check makes mistakes.  LOL  My college English professor made sure to teach and drill the rules of proper grammar.  He also would have us go home and type a paragraph and print it as you typed  it and mark what the computer thought were errors.  You would then make the changes grammar check wanted and print again.  We would bring them in for comparrison.  Grammar check usually made very large grammar mistakes.  My children will learn it the proper way and only use their brains to correct their papers.

by Sonja on Aug. 5, 2013 at 2:06 PM
1 mom liked this
I haven't read his work but I did hear about his experiment with the computers in India, which iI find incredible. He is right in what he is trying to point out that children have a natural instinct to learn and shouldn't be boxed in to not being able to learn because of restraints for whatever reason.

I instnctively sense that someone took a some of what he said and twisted it and also took what he said out of context just to twist what he said to suit their own agenda, whatever that agenda may be.

Spelling and grammar are extremely important in life. They are what gives us understanding of words and their definitions and even how to use them in their proper context. How easy uit s to mess up what someone means now and we already have experience with spelling and grammar. Think how much of that is beng lost now while the tech world decides what should be taught and what shouldn't as it is just too time consuming. Every one of us mothers know first hand what is being lost in education because someone thought that a subject was just too time consuming so let's just cut it from the program. Things like art and music and reading class and recess and the list could go on but maybe the point has already been shown here and you see what I am trying to say.

Quoting usmom3:

 I loved his hole in the wall experiment & I think they have taken what he said out of context.

by on Aug. 5, 2013 at 7:07 PM

My kids won't have smartphones until they can afford to buy them on their own and pay for the contract. I don't even have a smartphone! They actually learn spelling through games on my tablet.

by on Aug. 7, 2013 at 9:17 AM

Wrong.  Kids need to learn these things.  I can't believe the nonsense coming out of academia at times.

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