We watched Spellbound last night, a really well made documentary about the 1999 National Spelling Bee in America. It followed eight of the children, as they won their local spelling bees, and prepared for their big trip to Washington DC for the final. The final was agonisingly tense, I had to stop the movie and get a stiff drink towards the end. I am emotional putty in the hands of any story like this.
Some of the words the kids were asked to spell were incredibly obscure. When one of "our" kids got a curly one incorrect I found it very hard to take. One of the eight, Nupur Lala, was the eventual winner. Her last word was "logorrhea". I was very happy for her, but felt devastated for some of the others who had come so close. I don't think I could ever put my kids or myself through this. I told Elf that if the boys ever get involved in spelling bees, I will need to go away to a hut in the bush for the weekend.
Kids from South Asian backgrounds seem to do particularly well, there were quite a few of them. They are very assimilated - everyone including Nupur herself called her "Nooper".
This is a terrific doco, it deserved its Oscar nomination in 2004. I gave it an A.