The Concerted Cultivation of Spelling

Inside The Fight To Become The Scripps National Spelling Bee Champion” – Vice News, 2018, 7:12 --

This video is a good example of a middle-class parenting, better known as concerted cultivation. Parents in this socioeconomic strata tend to structure their child’s activities around the development of cultural capital. The children are enrolled in activities that “build their resume”—piano practice, boy scouts, swim team, spelling bees, special tutoring, drama club… all of this results in a hectic pace of daily life that leave little time for free activities. Working and lower-class parents, on the other hand, are said to approach childrearing from a natural growth model, essentially allowing their children to freely play with little formal structure. These children tend to be at a disadvantage when it comes to college admissions and other elite placements, as their middle-class peers have an impressive array of experiences and cultural development. However, the downside to the concerted cultivation model is apparent in the busy and stressful days of these privileged children. Perhaps there is such a thing as too much structured development.

From the video’s description: If you keep up with the world of competitive spelling, you've noticed the 10 year winning streak of South Asian-Americans. Kids from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh have simply dominated the competition, and the South Asian Spelling Bee circuit has a lot to do with that. Launched in 2008, the South Asian Spelling Bee is an elite circuit whose alumni account for a decade of spelling dominance in the nation's most competitive spelling competition. Rahul Walia, founder of the South Asian Spelling Bee, told VICE News "the reason why South Asians have really taken to this is because it really touches all of the learning pillars that this community has grown up with. While lending itself to the edge of competition and sport. And if you're good at it the spoils are phenomenal." VICE News followed along with one of the circuit's alumni, 12 year-old Rishik Gandhasri, as he chases the most sought after title in the world of spelling — Scripps National Champion.