One of the main lessons I have learned by working with Real Spelling is not to turn off our minds to "get answers" from references -- no matter how reliable we think that reference is. 

We often submit our thinking ot dictionaries like the Oxford with the assumption that they must know what they are talking about. Or deffering with the thought "who am I to correct a n expert like that?"

While it might be common to use references this way, it is a sure way to make sure that we let flawd thinking of others infect our own understanding, and to inhibit the deepening of the communities understanding. 

I have joyously taken on the call to "interrogate my references" when I have a question to see if it can help me deepen my understanding. 

This doesn't mean that I reject references, it just means that I use them as a critical thinker.

In schools we often talk about developing critical thinkers, but fail to behave like them when we get to certain authoritative references.

One of the things that makes this community of real spelling scholars so rich is that it has no hierarchy. People in this community who may be perceived as the "experts" regularly share learning that occurs because someone else in the community who might not think of themselves as an "expert" presented evidence of a flaw in the "expert's" thinking. 

As an illustration of this point, I wanted to share this early film from Real Spelling that celebrates the discovery of a long-held false assumption about the structure of words like <create> <creature> and <creative>. 

While those who work closely with Real Spelling will not be surprised to find this kind of celebration of being proven wrong - I thougth it would be good to have this example out there to remind us, that whatever reference you work with, we chould challenge it to see if it's analysis has evidence of the deepest structures that account for the greatest number of cases. A non-hierachicle community doesn't let who proposed a hypothesis play any role in assessing its validity.

And of course, there is much to learned about orthography when you follow the story of Real Spelling's flawed assumption about these words, and the evidence that convinced him to reframe his thinking. 

PS: For more examples of this sort of sharing of "experts" mistakes - you may be interested in my post explaining the error in the very first matrix in my teacher resource book here!

 

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