Well, ladies and gentlemen, the time has come yet again for that annual celebration of home-schooled religious wingnuts, first-generation-immigrant-over-parented-over-achievers, and all-purpose Asperger spectrum adolescents: the Scripps Spelling Bee.
An interesting–if borderline xenophobic/racist–article in Slate reminded me of this. “Why Are Indian Kids So Good at Spelling? Because they have their own minor-league spelling bee circuit” makes the case for, well, uh, why Indian kids are so good at the spelling bee. Apparently there is a network of pre-Scripps spelling tournaments funded by something called the North South Foundation:
The NSF circuit consists of 75 chapters run by close to 1,000 volunteers. The competitions, which began in 1993, function as a nerd Olympiad for Indian-Americans—there are separate divisions for math, science, vocab, geography, essay writing, and even public speaking—and a way to raise money for college scholarships for underprivileged students in India. There is little financial reward for winners (just a few thousand dollars in college scholarships) compared with the $40,000 winning purse handed out each year by Scripps. Still, more than 3,000 kids participated in NSF’s spelling events this year due in part to what NSF founder Ratnam Chitturi calls a sort of Kavya Effect. “Most American kids look up to sports figures,” he says. “Indian kids are more interested in education, and they finally have a role model.”