Friday, February 4, 2011

I Teach Grammar

You know what doesn't appear on standardized tests in Kentucky? Grammar. I still teach it, though. There are a lot people out there who think teaching grammar is a waste of time. They think teaching grammar is useless and archaic. Why? I don't know. I do know that I'm going to keep teaching grammar.

To me, attempting to teach reading and writing without a firm grasp in grammar is similar to trying to teach multiplication without understanding addition first. It just doesn't work well. Grammar is the bare bones of communication. It's necessary.

When I explain why we learn grammar to my kids, I always throw out the intelligence card. It doesn't matter how smart you are and how far you've come, if you don't speak correctly, people will think less of you. Yes, being judgmental is bad, but that doesn't make it fiction. Kids still need to prepare for meeting prejudice in their lives. Saying things like "I ain't never done that before!" is a sure way to get some raised eyebrows in a professional setting.

This is one that people hardly ever think of, but grammar can help with learning a second language. If you don't know what a tense is or how it works, conjugating hablar is going to be very difficult and frustrating for everyone involved.

Now, I'm far from a "grammar nazi" and as you can tell from the title of my blog, I recognize that colloquialisms and such have a place in communication. As I always stress to my students, you have to know the rules of grammar in order to break them correctly. I don't speak with perfect grammar at all times, but I know when I should. I know, for instance, that it's important to write this blog with grammar in mind. Yes, I have some dangling prepositions here and there, probably much to the horror of my high school English teacher. I try to keep my blog fun and error free, but I know some things slip through.

The point, really, is the effort. Taking the time to check that your speech or writing is correct shows your audience that you care about them. When a student takes the time to carefully craft a writing piece and adhere to grammar norms, you know that a lot of effort went into that piece. When my students grow up to become adults with big boy and big girl jobs, their bosses will know that  they are putting in an effort through their speech and writing.

Half of high school is about learning curriculum from content areas. The other half of high school is about learning how to function in life after school. In life after school, you are not legally required to have a job. In life after school, a truancy officer isn't going to come to your house to make you go to work. In life after school, you won't get a second, third, fourth and on and on chance to succeed. We teach our kids what we can, in the time that we have, about how to be a successful functioning adult. In my English class, that means we're going to cover the basics of grammar and know it will help my kids.

1 comment:

  1. Spanish teacher here...I appreciate that you keep on teaching grammar. :) My middle schoolers can barely tell me the difference between a subject and an object, so that makes my job extra hard! :)


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