Sunday, August 14, 2005

No Consonants Left Behind

I feel much better now. I just spent a week locked in a hotel conference room with thirty-seven other very intelligent people who shared this common goal: to teach the children of Oakland how to read better. Wait a second - what I meant was that our common goal was to better teach the children of Oakland to read. Okay, you get what I mean. While the five days we spent was essentially redundant to the training that we received in that same hotel conference room a year ago, we all came away with a sense of common purpose. That purpose was to make sure that we got out in time to miss the traffic leaving the A's game that was finishing up just about that same time.
So why do I feel better? I feel better because I just read a news item about education in Germany. Apparently the folks in Bavaria and North-Rhine Westphalia are having a hard time adjusting to the new rules governing spelling. The Bavarians and their friends in Westphalia have had seven years to prepare for the changes, intended to simplify things, but have decided to allow both old and new spellings as school begins this year. Meanwhile, Ulm and Neu-Ulm, on opposite banks of the Danube and in different conservative-led states, cannot agree how to spell the word "river," while "shipping" could have two "F"s in one town, but three in the other (Schiffahrt/Schifffahrt). Go ahead and snicker not just at the predicament, but the word "Schiffahrt/Schifffart."
Truth is, I took German in high school, and I know just how complex and rule-governed the language is. Learning German made it easier for me to teach English. The fact that all of this wrangling is taking place in a political context makes me even more amused. The lengthy debates about the spelling of "Krankenschwester" would probably have me in hysterics if they were broadcast on C-SPAN. For now I'll just have to take solace in the spelling of our governor's name.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So, what if a junior high aged republican commentator had to spell "lunchbox"? Would they somehow be dunked in a jar of Stridex by a bunch of Boy Scouts?