Spelling: Good advice from an old book

This advice on learning to spell correctly comes from the 1950 edition of “The Century Collegiate Handbook,” by Garland Greever, Easley S. Jones and Agnes Law Jones — a book I bought for $2.50 at an antiques store.

Form right muscular habits in spelling: Never permit yourself knowingly to write an incorrect spelling of a word. Not only will the erroneous form impress the memory through the eye, but the manual act of arranging the letters falsely will do much to create a wrong habit.

Of course, the writers were speaking to students who were using pencil or pen to write words. Today, most of us compose our writing on a keyboard and with the help of spellcheckers. But I think the advice still applies. We can develop the muscle memory of hitting the right keys on the keyboard. The other advice I take from this passage is to develop a habit of spelling correctly. I wonder how many students are drilled on spelling these days. With the ease of texting and shortcuts such as emoticons and abbreviations, we allow ourselves to become sloppy. It’s still important in published writing to spell words correctly and consistently.

One Response to “Spelling: Good advice from an old book”

  1. Erin Brenner

    Muscle memory is incredible. Anytime watch TV while knitting, the next time I knit, I’ll remember what I saw on TV.

    Learning in second grade seems to be based on muscle memory as well. My second grader does a lot of repetitious writing in his classwork and homework to help him learn the lessons. For example, spelling words are written out three times for homework on Mondays. It does make me wonder, though, about the value in taking a spelling pretest. The pretest is given on Monday, before the students study the words. If the students don’t know how to spell the words for the pretest, aren’t they embedding the incorrect spelling into their muscle memory? The pretests aren’t graded, but I’m not sure it’s helping them learn the correct spelling of the words.