Saturday, December 09, 2006

To Teach Grammar or Not to Teach Grammar...

A Kentucky eighth-grade teacher is enjoying some notoriety for teaching grammar, which is largely outmoded. I've been told since I started teaching 22 years ago that this was a huge no-no.

I've got decidedly mixed feelings. As an ESL teacher, I insist on teaching grammar. There is simply no way kids will learn to write acceptably without knowing and practicing the rules. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a fool, a robotic administrator, or both.

Although my first license was in English, I taught it for a very short time. The kids I taught were clueless about grammar, and I was inclined to teach them. However, if they'd known the rules I wouldn't have bothered.

I was taught rules about punctuation in first and second grade, and I never thought much about grammar till I started teaching. But I read a lot as a kid, and I think that helped me know the rules, even though I couldn't have explained them. Ideally, all kids would do that.

In New York City, though, conditions have been less than ideal as long as I can recall. I would teach grammar to American teenagers if they needed it.

Should we teach grammar as a matter of course? Or can we produce readers early and render it unnecessary?

Related: See what Graycie has to say.
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