Where is the leverage?

Where is the leverage?

By Rajesh Setty on Fri 07 Apr 2006, 11:56 PM – 2 Comments

Look at the following words:

1. xanthosis
2. vivisepulture
3. euonym
4. chiaroscurist
5. logorrhea
6. demarche
7. succedaneum
8. prospicience
9. pococurante
10. autochthonous
11. appoggiatura

I am sure most of you would have guessed what these words are. These are the winning words for the National Spelling Bee Contest from 1995 to 2005. Forget about the spelling, I don’t know the meaning of these words and most important, I don’t plan to know the meaning of these words. Even if I did and I used them in a sentence I am sure others won’t know what I was talking about.

May be I am naive. I don’t know why we have to get our kids to go through all this rigamorale (there I used something odd already) to learn a set of words in preparation for the contest. We know that they will rarely use these words again in their life except when they participate in another contest like this one. Granted, there are side benefits in learning the spellings of such words. But what is the price that you need to pay to get the side benefits? Is it worth it?

Time and energy are not available in excess for anyone in this world. You can spend time on these kinds of activities only if you feel that alternatively you would have spent that time watching mindless shows on TV. There is an opportunity cost for everything and we should just know that we may be missing something when we are pursuing dreams that may not have a long-term value.

IMHO of course!


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2 Comments so far, Add Yours

Anonymous  on April 10th, 2006

you mentioned

“We know that they will rarely use these words again in their life except when they participate in another contest like this one.”.

I have same feeling often when I am participating in the interview process in software companies. I often say ’software developers read algorithms only in 2 situations, one when they are appearing for interviews, second when they are taking interviews’. I wonder what is the ratio of number of companies asking interview questions on 2-3 trees, heaps, inverting a linked list, finding kth smallest number in a set and number of companies actually using these algorithms in their daily execution.

Anonymous  on April 10th, 2006

Good point Vivek. I had not thought of that one :)

Thanks for sharing this.



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