The Scripps National Spelling Bee just crowned is latest champion, 14 year-old Sukanya Roy from Pennsylvania. She claimed the title by spelling “cymotrichous” which means “having wavy hair.” The youngest participant in this year’s event was eight year-old Ethan Ruggeri.
Scripps is the culmination of Spelling Bee competitions – and its 86 year history garners international attention (it was even aired on ESPN3). It’s been a while since I last got to watch this competition on television, but to my surprise I am asking myself why is my heart racing, why so transfixed, tense, excited, and cheerful? I’m not even competing – but these kids are fantastic!
There is no doubt that participation at any level in this event or other competitions like it have a tremendous impact on our children. It progresses their academic knowledge, develops critical thinking skills, develops their social skills through camaraderie and friendship, and builds confidence. And assuming the 230+ parent/family members that serve as “coaches” do so in a healthy manner, it most certainly ensures that great memories and family bonds will follow. Whether our children are athletic or not, exercising their mind is undoubtedly a sound investment…and can be just as rewarding for them and exciting for us (the fans).
But, maybe it’s time for a paradigm shift…and as I say that, I realize that the shift is actually l-o-n-g overdue. We sure could benefit from a change in perspective these days, as we wrestle with our country’s reputation in the world, our domestic economic challenges, and as we prepare the next generation to be the one to support the twilight days our generation.
As a society we spend a LOT of money on entertainment, honoring the physical heroics or superficial beauty of a few, but to what end? Can you imagine what it would be like to see thousands cheering on our spelling bee, science or math finalists, Academic Decathlon, Debate or Mock Trial teams just as much, or more? And if there is one thing we know, where the excitement goes so too the money and media. Think of the progress to be made if our energies ever met at the crossroads of our social need and purse strings. Ok, off soapbox. But first, consider the following statistics:
- One out of 5,000 high school athletes in football or basketball will play professionally (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).
- U.S. recently rated “Average” in world rankings on education (14th reading, 17th science, 25th math; based on 34 countries in OECD Programme for International Student Assessment Report).
- Only eight OECD countries have lower high school graduation rates than the U.S.
Let’s keep making the right investments – in our children; whatever they need to ensure the success of their future (and ultimately ours). If Learning Dynamics, Inc. can help, we would like to. Take a look at our services, and let us know how we might be of assistance to you or someone you know.