Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Playing pink scrabble
Originally uploaded by PhylB

We started playing Scrabble once or twice a month with the bigger kids in the hope it'd help their spelling and vocabulary. I know many of my workmates will die of shock at the thought of a colleague actually playing Scrabble for pleasure (because we publish all the UK Scrabble titles many of our colleagues would feel an hour spent on anything to do with Scrabble was overtime and would feel they'd deserve to be paid for the purpose!)
Anyway, the games were going well but there were two main problems when playing with an 8 year old and (as was then) a 10 year old, and that was that finding many words with the X, J, Z or Q was hard work, and that the last two or three rounds when you were down to two or three letters were equally impossible.
Thomas came up with the idea of getting the three Scrabble books from the office bookshop:
Scrabble words
Scrabble lists
Need to know? Scrabble
Great, we now had a source of two and three letter words. We had lists of all the words beginning with the obscure letters and we had hints at what could be done with many letter combinations. But surprisingly, although the kids are enjoying the game more than ever, given their newfound ability to win with really obscure words, I have gone from relishing our games from an educational perspective, to finding them utterly pointless, or borderline pointless anyway.
The kids are using their dictionary skills at least to find new and weird words, but given the Scrabble words book has no definitions, this is simply a means to winning and no longer educational. Tonight the kids came up with bowat, jape, mugg, zelants and qat - all great words but they haven't a clue what any of them mean! As a dictionary writer of 18 years experience I tend to think if even I don't recognize a word, then the kids shouldn't be using it to beat me at Scrabble.
We have completely lost focus of why we started to play the game in the first place.
It also opened my eyes to the Scrabble nuts out there. They play to win, not to learn anything. In fact winning is so important, they would be happy to play Scrabble in a language they don't speak rather than lose a game... incomprehensible.
I guess they are a different breed of weirdo nerd from me.

1 comment:

Sebastian said...

Stakkels jer voksne. Når vi spiller kriblekryds får børnene godt nok en ordbog; men det er Nudansk med forklaringer, ellers er det da kedeligt ,-)

Forresten, kender I et sted på nettet, hvor man kan spille online kriblekryds, også med de danske bogstaver. Jeg fandt det en gang, tror jeg; men nu er det væk ;(