A few weeks ago, a colleague and I offered a free class for 25 people on the subject of proper names: where they come from, how they work across languages, and how their study can be useful. It was a free 90-minute class that everyone found delightful, and did I mention that it was free?
My reward for offering that class, in addition to all the warm feels and glowing feedback from the people who attended, was to be trolled for the better part of two days by someone who signed up, then pulled out after I caught her in a lie.
“I do NOT wish to be your friend/colleague/student/mentee or whatever it is that you think people are to you,” she railed.
But, I mean, a lot of people do wish that for themselves and do benefit from working and studying with me. I know this, but it just shouldn’t cost me that level of grief from from people who have already decided they hate me before even trying a class or a conversation. This kind of stuff makes me feel awful, and it happens all too often. I am not a big fan of feelings to begin with, and I certainly didn’t launch a new project just to write about them, but spelling certainly seems to inspire some strong ones. Shame is just one.
I'd simply like to talk with people about English spelling without having people accuse me of running a cult or being a monster just because I say handle your own time zone or never join a zoom room outside of class or ‘box’ only has three phonemes. I’d like to have these conversations without having to manage email spam or delete nasty Facebook comments from strangers, without piecing together Twitter threads through comments I can't see because people have blocked me. I’d like to be able to make a post without tumbling down a social media rabbit hole.
I’d also like to be able to talk about words and spelling without having some disingenuous teacher-person steal my thinking, my graphics, and my titles and present or sell them as their own. This has happened to me too many times, and there’s an endless stream of such charlatans, so I’m now working with a lawyer to professionalize LEX in ways they never trained me for in linguist school. I am always happy to collaborate with colleagues and to grant reasonable permissions, but I want to ensure that my work and livelihood are protected to the best of my ability. The international nature of my work makes this challenging, but I’m determined to protect my work for those who value it.
Shameless Spelling is part of that bigger effort. While I will still maintain a free presence on social media and on my regular blog, those spaces will be mostly for announcements, schedules, shared links, policies, and short, shallow posts; I’m migrating my serious investigations, lesson synopses, and deep responses to questions to this forum, where we can work unfettered by spies and trolls. It is also my intent that writing regularly for a specific audeince will help me get my darn dissertation finished, and give me the chance to discuss that work with people who are interested in it.
I’m calling this venture Shameless Spelling for a few reasons: First, I don’t want to waste one more minute arguing about phonics or having the so-called “Science of Reading” explained to me by an adjunct instructor, and then feeling crappy for three days as I rehash the conversation in my mind. Second, this space is dedicated to everyone who’s every been shamed for their spelling, for their reading, for trying to help their kid become literate, or for not making sense of the syllable pedagogies being shoved down their throats. To everyone who’s every burst into tears of relief in one of my classes, or found real word study to be better than therapy, this is your space. And finally, I’m probably gonna cuss and stuff, and call out lies as lies, and thieves as thieves, as I’ve always done. There are no sacred cows here.
I will post on or near the first of each month a free piece based on my current research, including my dissertation, or based on a study session with one of my private kiddos or mentees, always with permission. Anyone can subscribe and have access to the free monthly posts. But the ability to comment, ask questions, delve deeper, and explore the archives will be behind a teeny tiny paywall. Behind the paywall, I will also post a longer, deeper exploration at least once a month, and often more. Paid posts will include graphics, videos, and content for lesson planning. Paid subscribers will also have first access to new course and new publication announcements, EarlyBird discounts, free pop-up classes, free shipping holidays, and coaching opportunities. Paid subscribers will be able to comment on and discuss posts, classes, and more.
So here, a free subscription keeps you connected: the monthly post will appear in your inbox, no social media sinkholes necessary. If you decide to join us behind the paywall, then you have the option to have access to everything. See? Shameless. A subscription is $5/month or $50/year. Come as you are. I hope to see you there.