It’s the end of the road for teachers who can’t spell 123



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As of next term, teaching students will sit a national literacy and numeracy exam, a move the education minister hopes will put an end to misspelt report cards and miscalculated marks.

But one expert warns that a multiple-choice test does not a good teacher make.

Misty Adoniou from the University of Canberra writes in The Conversation, “If quality teaching and high student learning outcomes were achieved simply through knowing how to spell ‘accommodation’ then shame on us for not having figured that out a century ago”.

Ms Adoniou says teaching students need to understand the reasons why words are spelled the way they are, along with the rules of grammar that disappeared from curriculums with the “absorption” approach to language.

And most crucially, she argues, teachers must know how to teach this understanding to their students.

As a teacher of teachers, Ms Adoniou says the inability to read critically and to write coherent arguments are of greater concern than a teacher’s ability to place a punctuation mark.

News Limited reports that in a recent study, more than 200 graduates at an unnamed Australian university struggled to spell a list of 20 words including “acquaintance”, “definite”, “exaggerate” and “parallel”. Not one student got full marks.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne said, “Testing key aspects of the literacy and numeracy skills of aspiring teachers will assist higher education providers, teacher employers and the general public to have absolute confidence in the skills of graduating teachers.’’

However, Ms Adoniou says “As politically appealing and cost effective as it seems, a multiple choice test of spelling and grammar will not provide the answer to the vexing questions around why some children struggle to read and write.”

The first 5000 teaching students will sit the test in August, although they have been told they will graduate even if they fail the test. From 2016, however, all teaching students much pass the test to qualify.

Do you support a mandatory spelling and numeracy test for teachers or do you think it’s a Bandaid solution for a deeper issue?


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  1. How do they get through university if they can’t spell. Surely they don’t rely on spell check. I agree that if they can’t spell they don’t teach.

  2. Here’s a heads-up – teaching is NOT all about spelling. DO grow up.

    1 REPLY
    • Of course it’s not all about spelling but it if you can’t spell only not very bright people will take you seriously…

  3. Thank heavens some basics are being brought back into education. Fancy having a teacher that can’t spell …outrageous! Then the basics of grammar and punctuation will need to be addressed – they went out the window too, and now they realise that a whole meaning can be changed by incorrect grammar & emphasis. Basics that should never have been let go.

    1 REPLY
    • Judy, why do so many use “that”, instead of “who”? e.g: “the teacher who…” is how it should be. You would have been in trouble at school once for that usage. Parents, grandparents teach as well as school teachers.

  4. Teaching is a lot more than spelling ! It should be about education in general, and teaching how to think.I am dislecsic, never been able to spell, was found to have a very hight IQ and successfully finished my tertiary education!! I wonder how many talented teachers we will miss out on if we focus too much on spelling!

    7 REPLY
    • I’m not a good speller either but I check my spelling as you should… Being DYSLEXIC doesn’t mean you can’t look things up…

    • It doesn’t matter how many times you look things up Kerry…with some of us it just doesn’t stay in our brains…i was always in trouble at school for writing the same word 3 or 4 different ways on the same page…lol…if i didn’t have spell check on my phone most of my posts would be indecipherable lol…

    • I can’t do numbers either….my dyslexia is weird. .i can read anything put in front of me..and read a couple of books a week….but have never been able to spell….

    • I read all the time, even while I’m watching TV. You would think some of it would stick but no, I have to look it up every time.

  5. Bad educators? Its the system they went through that let them down!
    I had to pretty much rewrite most of my daughters university assignments because she knew nothing about basic grammar and writing, not to mention spelling.
    I had no idea she had managed to get through school and qualified for UNI without fundamental literacy skills!

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