Spelling the Dream (2020)

TV-G   |    |  Documentary


Spelling the Dream (2020) Poster

Chronicle of the ups and downs of four Indian-American students as they compete to realize their dream of winning the iconic tournament.


6.8/10
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5 June 2020 | spasek
9
| What Hard Work and Discipline Will Do For You!
I'm an ESL teacher, who has worked throughout Asia (China, Taiwan, South Korea, etc.), and at two English academies, we implemented a Spelling Bee. For most of the kids, they had a blast doing it. I made sure that: every participant was recognized and received something.

The chasm between "east" and "west" is growing wider all of the time. The extremists in the east are, what we refer to as "Tiger Parents" which is mentioned briefly in this documentary. In the west, we have the spoiled and do-whatever-you-want mentality. Both are extremes and both are just as detrimental to child's well-being.

I didn't see any indication of "Tiger Parents" in this documentary. It's not uncommon for Asian parents to live vicariously through their children, which always does more harm than good; parents who believe that it reflects badly on themselves if their child doesn't succeed. These are parents who put their own interests and feelings above their child's.

A parent's job is to empower their child to be the best version of themselves that they can be; to do their best. This is also a teacher's job. It is not the parent's job to control every aspect of a child's life by constantly telling them what to do and making all of the decisions for them. It is also not the parent's job to allow a child free-rein to do whatever they want to do. There has to be a balance between the two extremes.

Most children in the east lack the freedom to make any real decisions for themselves. They study hard from sunrise until midnight or beyond (not an exaggeration!). In the west, if a child even cracks a book open, it's a minor miracle.

There is actually no mystery about why Indian-Americans outdo their competitors in the Spelling Bee. The kids put in the time and effort that it takes to be successfu. As long as the child is doing what he/she wants, who has the right to complain or criticize? Most American kids would rather be playing a sport or going home to play on the computer. Nothing wrong with playing sports, as the best athletes put in the time and effort. Why is this not received with equal notoriety when a child prefers to put the time and effort into learning words?

The reason is that American priorities can sometimes be backwards. As I said, most kids would rather play a sport, hang out with friends, play games, etc. Much of this is because their parents don't care what they do/don't do, as long as their child stays occupied and out of their way. Asian parents stress hitting the books and doing homework. Again, a balance is necessary. But above all, a parent should be supportive and understanding if their child decides that they no longer want to do something (play a sport, play an instrument, participate in a spelling bee, etc.)

The statistics and the amount of work that these kids put into the spelling bee is incredible. Most of these kids already have a stronger work ethic than most American adults. We also see that many of these kids also have other interests such as tennis, piano, etc.

This documentary should be viewed with pride by Indian-Americans, and it should be a source of inspiration for anyone else that may not be doing enough to succeed. Yes, succeess = hard work, discipline, and dedication. It's sad when people actually find fault with this concept; a concept that others like Bruce Lee and Kobe Bryant instilled in others. Natural talent isn't enough. You have to put in the work, no matter if it's a sport, playing an instrument, or being in a spelling bee.

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