The gloves were off at one school's 'Spelling Bee' competition on Saturday, and, after a period of preparation that had seemed endless, though, in reality, nowhere near long enough, excitement was at fever pitch as the event got under way.
Children of all ages at the unnamed school had doggedly tried to memorise several hundred words of varying syllable length for the past two months, and assured organizers that they could remember about half of the easiest ones, such as 'bat', 'cat', and 'rat'.
But not 'perennial' nor, indeed, 'surreptitious'.
The competition kicked off with students being asked to try to spell five words correctly. If any student could, that student would go through to the next round, and compete against other students for a chance to win an all-expenses-paid trip to Hong Kong!
Nobody could. One student got three right. The rest didn't.
The students, whose ages ranged anywhere from 6 to 16, had been desperately trying to remember the words instead of doing what their parents had paid for - regular lessons - and were, no doubt feeling the pressure. This will have been multiplied somewhat by the fact that their end-of-term tests were also approaching, and, through missing so much study due to having to memorise the spellings of so many words that they would have been unlikely ever to have encountered again in their lives, many were doomed to fail.
Still, the 'show' had to go on.
I mean, a memory contest that provides exposure and marketing opportunities for the school, is more important than the education of a few kids, isn't it?
Here is an example of the action:
Teacher: Spell the word 'seed'.
Student: Seed, S-E-E-D, seed.
Teacher: That is correct. Spell the word 'circumstantial'.
Teacher: Spell the word 'chair'.
Student: Chair, C-H-A-I-R, chair.
Teacher: That is correct. Spell the word 'impertinence'.
Student: Thank you so much for the opportunity to shine.
Teacher: Don't mention it. Good morning!
Student: Good mo...
And one more:
Teacher: Spell the word 'tiger'.
Student: Hmm...could you tell me the Part of Speech, please?
Teacher: Yes. It is a noun.
Student: Ah, I see. And the meaning, please?
Teacher: A wild animal of the cat family with four legs and big, sharp teeth. It is orange with black stripes.
Student: I see. And could I have the Usage Example, please?
Teacher: Of course. "Tyger! Tyger! Burning bright! In the forest of the night, what immortal hand or eye, dare frame thy fearful symmetry?"
Student: Shouldn't that be 'forests'?
Teacher: Indeed, it should.
Student: Er ...