Lessons in spelling ‘have no place in 21st century schools’

Lessons in spelling ‘have no place in 21st century schools’

By Graeme Paton

Sugata Mitra, professor of educational technology at Newcastle University, said good spelling and grammar was necessary “maybe a hundred years ago” but “not right now”.

He insisted that children should be encouraged to express themselves in a number of different ways – including using mobile phone text messaging – rather than relying on established linguistic rules.

The comments come despite a new drive by the Government to promote the basics of English language throughout compulsory education.

Under new plans, a revised national curriculum is being introduced that requires pupils to accurately spell 200 complex words by the end of primary school.


Another trotting out of the line, that nothing has changed in 100 years, which is false, silly and unjustifiable. But Sugata has a point, to a degree, and the 200 most common word list is a great example. The 200 word list is a compromise because as Sugata points out we require our students to learn them before they use them not as they use them. Technology allows us to learn as we need to, however, it does not replace the need for learning, as Sugata seems to be suggesting, in fact, spelling and grammar is exceedingly more important in todays world of instant publishing.

Maybe the 200 words could be instead used to audit our teaching program? If our students are exposed to a variety of authentic experiences they can’t help not learning those words.

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