The generations have been put to the tests to see who spells best, and the results have been pretty shocking.
So are we creating a generation of Australians who simply don't know how to spell?
We're rewinding the clock to set the record straight on spelling.More stories from Today Tonight
There are no computers, no Google and no spell check - just a pen and a piece of paper.
There's a chorus of critics who claim tonight's experiment will expose a serious failure of our educators - that we are breeding a nation of students who can't spell basic words.
“We're going to pay a high price now for dismantling formal education,” 2GB broadcaster and former English teacher Alan Jones has said.
So a simple classroom test is pitting Generation X against Generation Y and the Baby Boomers. They’re going head to head in the national spelling bee challenge.
With the help of primary school principal Jim Cooper we've compiled 37 words - words you don't need to be an English scholar to spell.
Casting a glaring eye over our students is someone well versed on the weakest link in society - Cornelia Frances.
Three quarters of Generation X got the test wrong. In fact across the classroom - twenty of the 27 tested couldn't spell ‘jubilant’.
When the class was asked spell ‘dubious’ the result was pretty shocking. Almost half spelt it with a J not a D.
But according to Jones, they’re not the ones to blame.More stories from reporter David Eccleston
“The child has no choice. The child hasn't been taught the other way. If the child were taught phonetically, A says ‘ah’ and B says ‘beh’ (there are certain graduations through the vocabulary and you test and you teach and you test again), then the child would be quite happy to accept that,” Jones said.
“The child didn't have a choice about that, but we're making these people potentially illiterate.”
Can you spell ‘insidious’, meaning ‘to be deceitful’? Again more than half the class couldn't.
Half of the baby boomers got the word adolescence wrong.
Only one Generation Y contestant got it right.
It's a universal issue. A similar study in the UK found a third of adults couldn’t spell words like 'definitely' and 'separate'. An over reliance on auto correct on computers was blamed as a major contributor for the poor results.
Back home, worrying figures released today from Queensland College of Teachers show that almost half of studying teachers failed questions a Year 7 student should know.
“They've never been taught to spell. We just have, you know, ‘word recognition’. Pass it in front of them and if you see it often enough you learn how to spell it. The teacher doesn't know how to spell. You want to read some of the report cards that are written by the teachers and find out whether they can spell or not. They can't spell,” Jones said.
Tiffany Farrington runs a media website called Social Diary and is a stickler for correct spelling. What she sees in resumes is being replicated around the country.
“I just think your cover letter on your CV is a representation of who you are, and how good you could be for that job - and I’m really shocked at how many mistakes there were,” Farrington said.
Of the 27 students we tested, there was one shining light. Baby Boomer Sue got every word right and puts her results down to reading a lot as a child.
In the end the Baby Boomers came out on top, spelling 74 per cent of the words correct. Generation X came second with 65 per cent correct, and finally Generation Y scored 60 per cent.
So the question perhaps is does it matter? In the real world today, is spelling that important?What do you think?
Due to the overwhelming response we will be unable to send individual test results, but tune in to the show to check out how the generations compared.This reporter is on Twitter at @DavidEccleston7
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