[Spelling Reform Anthology §17.5 p235]
[Spelling Progress Bulletin, Spring 1981, p20]
[Harvie Barnard: see Journal, Anthology, Bulletins.]

A Letter to Grandpa,

by Timmie A. Dropout*

*Harvie Barnard, Tacoma, Wa.

Dear Gramps:

In your last letter you asked me why I wanted to kwit school, and so I'll tell you why. At first I reely liked skool becaus I liked our teecher who liked all us kids. She red stories to us about peepl who did things that kids like to do - like Ben Franklin and how he discoverd lectricity with his kite. And so we all wanted to lern to reed books. Well, Miss Rule had lots of good picher books for us to look at and lern words from the pichers. Then I had the idea that if I had a book just like the wun Miss Rule was reeding to us, we cuud reed along with the teecher. So we tried it on the class and it worked just fine and pretty soon I cuud reed the same stories that we were lissening to. So we lerned lots of noo words every day and skool was reel fun. Miss Rule was reely a neet teacher!

But then they gave us tests and sum of us were put in a class for "speshuls." I gess becaus we were reeding so much and getting books from the liberry which wer for older kids. Our noo class had a man teecher hoo was called a sikologist - a Doktor Rider. He had sum noo rules and sed we wer supposed to start riting and that we must lern basics before we started reeding books about things we wanted to reed about.

Then we took mor tests wich they calld IQ's and wer supposed to tell how brite yoo wer. The 'I' was for interests, or sumthing like that, and the 'Q' was for what they calld a kwoshunt. What ever that is.

Enyhow, Doktor Rider sed we must lern the basics wich wer the 3 R's, and that was when the trubl started. He sed we wern't supposed to be reeding jusy enything - which was what we liked, but that we must follo a basic 3 R program, Reeding, Riting and Rithmetic. We must lern the 3 Rs all at wunse, which the Principal sed was the noo plan wich the Board or sumbody sed was the way we must lern to reed and get educated.

Well, enyhow we had sum reely brite kids in our class and everybody began to laff when Dr. Rider rote on the blackboard. He rote, "Writing, Arithmetic, and Reading." I thot that was so funny I laffed out loud, and he sed, "Tim, what's so funny; what is there to laff about?" And I sed, "It's not the 3 Rs, it's 'W A R' insted! " Then Dr. Rider sort of stared at the words on the board, and kind of coffed, and looked reel mad and grumpy - and the kids thot he was going to paddle sumbody, but he didn't.

My best frend Jorge, who is a very brite kid, put up his hand and sed, "If 'R' is for Writing, and 'R' is for Arithmetic, why did he use the letters 'W' and 'A' when we are supposed to be lerning the 3Rs, and besides it sure sounds like '3Rs', so why change it to sumthing we don't reely say?"

Dr. Rider didn't anser Jorge's kwestion, but sed we cuud rite stories about things we liked to do, so we dropt the 3Rs for a while and tried riting the way the words make sens to us. But after we tried that, wich the kids thot was reely neet, Dr. Rider sed sumthing about fonics had spoilt us and that we wuud hav to start over, and maybe we had better work on rithmetic for a chanj. So I lernt how to use all the numbers to tell how much, how meny, how far, how long and about muney, and that was reely interesting, and very eezy too. We didn't hav to lern eny speshul rules or exepshuns. Jorj sed it made good sens to him, and all the kids got As on the rithmetic tests.

But then we had trubl agen when the teecher sed that when we rote about numbers of things the names of the numbers must be spelt like "one, two, three four." Rite away Jorj - hoo is always getting us into trubl - sed he thot it wuud be better if the numbers wer spelt "wun, too, three, fore, . . " and rite away all the kids agreed with Jorj - wich must hav bin very bad, jujing by the look on Dr. Rider's face.

And we cuud tell that he didn't like what Jorj sed, but finely he sed that maybe - just maybe - Jorj mite hav a good idea for wuns. But when we came to spelling 8, there was trubl agen. This was becaus we all thot Jorj was rite when he spelt 8 "ate" insted of "eight." I asked what the "gh" was for, and why not just "eit," wich wud save letters and sound mor like "ate" and still stand for 8?

Dr. Rider told us then that saving time, or making things ezier to lern or to rite wasn't the idea enyhow, but that we'd go bak to riting numbers like numbers insted of names, wich made sens, and so the kids wer happy about that!

So then we stopt rithmetic and went bak to reeding and riting. But sins all the class cuud reed pritty well alredy, we started riting. Dr. Rider explained that riting was supposed to be mostly communicashun, and that communicashun was the most important thing he was trying to teech us. Then we notised that sumthing was chanjing, espeshully when he sed that it seemd that we wuud make better progress if the class went bak to fonics, wich we did, and everybody was happy for a while.

We began riting about things all kids liked, such as cars and airplanes, and rocket ships, and baseball and sokker, and everywun was having fun, and enjoying skool mor than we ever did before. Even Dr. Rider seemd happy, and he sed we kids wer reely lerning to communicate, and that fonics was probably the best way to go! But he sed we'd better lern the rite way to pronouns words so when we spelt them like they sounded they'd be spelt correctly, so we worked on correct speech for a while.

Just when we thot everything was going to be alrite, all hell broke loose when we had a visitor from the skool offis hoo sed we wuud hav a spelling bee! That did it! The first word I got was 'thru,' and I spelt it just like it is, and got dropt out. But I wasn't the only dum wun, becaus nobody cuud spell words like enuf, or coff, or thot, or ruff, or even tuff. Pritty soom the man from the offis had us all down, and he was awful mad, and sed we wer all a bunch of "dum bunnies", and that Dr. Rider wuud hav to begin all over to teech us to spell rite wright, and not rong wrong.

Our teecher sed there wer too meny inconsistencies and too meny silent letters in our English spelling and that we wer lerning much fasterwith fonics and that we wer alredy making good progress in communication. He also sed that we wer lerning to think and to express our thots with originality and without hangups over spelling.

It sounded to us that Dr. Rider had wun the argument, but we wer rong, I gess, becaus he didn't cum bakk after that spelling bee. My mom sed they told the P.T.A. that he got sent bakk to a teechers' college sumplase, and my dad was pritty mad and sed he'd like to run for the skool bored. Enyhow he probably got fired becaus we got a noo teecher and started reeding about Dick and Jane running and jumping and riding a bus and playing going to the grocery store, wich was too much baby stuff for me and didn't make much sens to enybody. So they put us all bakk with the kids hoo wer just lerning to reed and rite the wright way, and it sure was a dum class we got into.

And so, grandpa, that is when I decided I had enuff education and decided I wuud rather kwit skool than stay in that dum baby class. Besides, I now hate skool, and when I feel like reeding I can go to the liberry and reed enything I want. Sum of the words are spelt a littl different, but not enuff to make much differens. So far I hav red Tom Saywer and Swiss Family Robinson and I think I'll reed Trezure Iskand next. A lot of the spelling is stranj but I gess I can liv with it. My frend Jorj sez he thinks he'll kwit too. He sez his dad is tauking about sending him to a privit skool, and maybe we can both get sent ther together, but if they hav spelling bees at that skool we'll probably run away. What wuud yoo do? Yoor loving grandsun, Timmy.

P.S. My berthday is next week and my mother sez maybe I shuud hav a dicshunary. Does a dicshunary teech yoo to think? Dr. Rider had wun at skool but the kids cuudn't use it. But mom thinks I cuud teech myself a lot of interesting words if I had wun, wich wood be a lot better than having spelling bees in that dum bunny class at skool!

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See Grandpa's Reply, Timmie's 2nd letter.