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Worst Day of His Life, Spelling Problems and Corporal Punishment Updates

Posted by on June 22, 2013

The Worst Day of his 8 year old Life:  One of our neighbours invited us to play scrabble and upon arrival her 8 year old boy gave me an essay to read titled “The Worst Day of My Life”.  He wrote that his mother dropped him at school in his underwear.  He expressed his humiliation, especially in front of his enemies who laughed loud at him many times over the day.  Some laughed so hard they fell to ground and on each other laughing at him.

I wondered what the real story was and turned to his mother.  She told me he had lost his new shoes and if his shoes were not important to him then neither should his clothe be important.  She ordered him to strip down and then took him to school in his underwear.

When I hear stories like this now – my brain freezes for a moment.  I used to try to think through what was really meant or try and figure out how I misinterpreted what I just heard.  Now I freeze, knowing the story is usually real and try to compose myself for continued conversation in a civil way.

I told her, in my most helpful tone of voice, what she did was horrible.  She acknowledged she probably did go too far as she didn’t really mean to put him in a position that his enemies could laugh at him the whole day.

While the above story isn’t an everyday type of occurrence it does illustrate the little regard there is for children, as not one single person thought it would be appropriate to give this child clothes or to send him home if his mother sent him to school nearly naked to be humiliated the entire day.

At least the child has the inner strength to articulate his feelings and share his shame with his mother and a few others – that is something that I usually don’t see – and I hope it is a tiny step in the process of social change.


The day he went to school in his underware was the worst day of this little boys life.

The day he went to school in his underware was the worst day of this little boys life.

Spelling Anyone who has ever worked or schooled with me has noticed my challenges with spelling.  I have kept the existence of spell check on my gratitude list since I discovered it.  Before spell check, my English 101 teacher told me I should look up every single word with more than 6 letters.  Despite my challenge, my spelling ability has continued to improve over the course of my life………… until now.

I always knew British and American spelling differed – but I thought it was contained to words like color and labor.  Another difference is the use of ise instead of ize, sometimes, but not always.  Civilisation is correct but so is agonize.   There are rules about these things but they are so detailed and obscure that learning the rules makes diagramming sentences look like a fun Saturday night activity. So I use whatever the UK English spell checker says to use, and let the locals change it to Botswana brand spelling without request for clarification.

I did not know, until I moved here, there is a differnt set of rules for British grammar when talking of more complicated rules such as progressive tenses and also mundane things like the use of a period (called full stop here) after Mr. and Ms.  At this moment my computer, which is set to British English is telling me Mr. and Ms. are wrong because both abbreviations have a period/full stop after the last letter.


Austria                                 Belize

    Canada                          Caribbean

India                              Ireland

Jamaica                           Malaysia

New Zealand                       Philippines

Singapore                    South Africa

    Trinidad               United Kingdom

United States                     Zimbabwe


Another 88 Counties use English as the primary or official language – and I suspect they all imposed their own culture into the language. 


I recently learned that nearly 1 Billion people live in countries where English is the primary or official language.  I am so happy I was born in an English speaking county considering my ability to learn new languages. 


I also did not know that nearly every country that uses English as its official language has a different version of proper spelling and grammar.  Microsoft  Word has 16 different English languages to choose from.  Botswana seems to have a unique English blend of American, British, South African and an undocumented Botswana.  Most spellings are British, but there are a fair amount of words that are special like councelling.  (Botswana English almost always doubles the last consonant when adding the progressive ing).

Sometimes American use of grammar or spelling is ok – but other times people are adamant that American grammar/spelling cannot be used, more as challenge to American righteousness than rules regarding acceptable writing styles.

In Botswana grammar, past tense often uses a t instead of ed so one says, “I learnt that”, instead of “I learned that.”  The only time it would be proper to use learned is if one wants to say “He is a learned (learn-ed – meaning well educated) man”.  The British spell checker approves “learnt” but the grammar rules say it is not preferred usage.

On top of everything else all the proper nouns here are not in any English dictionary or in spell check and I only spell about 50 per cent (percent is not a word in British English) correctly.

I write a great deal here and people often ask for my help to write tests and reports.  No one ever suggests or questions my construction or grammar, but the spelling is under constant review.

I feel like I am in English 101 and I fear I will feel worse than that when I return to America with 4 other versions of English spelling in my head.






Trunk of Car Boot Gas Petro
Hood of Car Bonnet Bathroom toilet
Fries Chips Candy Sweet
Garbage Dust Bin To bathe To bath
Corn Maize Courgette Zucchini
Math Maths Fries Chips
Pants Trousers Chips Crisps
Diaper Nappy Cookie Biscuit
Eraser Rubber Soccer Football
Naughts and crosses Tic Tac Toe Cigarette Fag


Corporal Punishment Update:  The children are living up to the teachers fear and behaving worse and worse each day.  There are 7 or 8 fights a day at the school, and recently older siblings have been coming to school to get in on some of the brawls.  Yesterday the police were called to break up a huge fight with more than 100 children.  Students don’t attend class and don’t do homework.  Teachers do nothing – waiting to be told how they are supposed to impose a new discipline.

The School Head announced at assembly the children should know that the law does allow for corporal punishment and they should behave.  He said he won’t explain the law to them, but they should know they could still get the stick and better start behaving.

But kids are kids.  I guess I really mean kids are like all other people with a little ability to see long term consequences to such unacceptable behaviour.  If there are no immediate negative consequences for bad behaviour, it will likely rein.

Things are going to get worse before they get better.  It is amazing to me how long it takes adults here to think they may be able to influence a situation and take action.  No one seems to ever want to change the status quo or have to be responsible for “troubles”.  Even in an environment like this – change will happen – it always does.  I hope they  figure this before these children’s education is to badly compromised.

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