Lack of correct spelling does not equal lack of intelligence

In my previous position, I ran a small town Iowa weekly direct mail newspaper. Not hard-hitting news most of the time, though we prided ourselves on quality, no matter the topic.

Being in a creative environment where the topics were as varied as the writers themselves, it was commonplace to bounce ideas off of each other. Questions of “How would you say…” and “Would you say X or would you say Y?” with little to no explanation were common.

Discussion over grammar, spelling, and punctuation occurred on a regular basis. I have had more conversations over the Oxford comma than any person ever should (I am pro, no matter what the industry says).

This being said, I am fully aware that if you are in the writing industry, these details matter like they do not to others.

I can’t help but wonder why as a society we have collectively decided that all forms of learning styles are acceptable, and all learning struggles are acceptable except for grammar?

For some reason, we have set spelling, punctuation, and grammar as the benchmark of intelligence. We pass judgment on the person who uses the wrong form of to, too, or two. We roll our eyes at those who cannot seem to figure out there, their and they’re.

While words make sense to me, science does not. I have had biology terms explained to me in numerous ways, in several settings, and nothing sticks. It is socially acceptable for me to declare myself “not a science person” and move on with life. There is not judgment.

For those who are not “good with dates,” it is acceptable to be “not a history buff” and there is no question of their intelligence.

Many people declare themselves to be “bad at math” and that is socially acceptable as well. We laugh it off and give it no other thought.

None of these people are believed to be less intelligent. None of these people are thought of as less.

Why do we judge the written word differently? Both English and mathematics are taught from a foundational level. Both are built upon throughout all levels of schooling.

Some of the most intelligent people I have ever met are also the worst at spelling. Their brain works differently than mine does. That’s okay.

I am not sure in this cultural climate of inclusion and understanding within the educational community when there will be a shift, but one is drastically needed.

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