Thursday, February 22

Grammar Schools Are Back in Focus

When you go to school and study a subject, you learn the language of that subject. You are taught how to express what you know about your field in a manner that makes sense to the people in your area (i.e., your classmates).

The same principle applies when you study grammar and writing. When someone learns grammar, they get an education about how written language is constructed:

  • Rules for forming sentences and punctuation symbols.
  • Effective ways of combining words into phrases and clauses.
  • Different rules for various forms of written expression like poetry, advertising copy, or academic papers.

These rules are taught the same way someone learns about a subject. That is, by studying various examples of how language has been used and how it should be used. When you understand how things work, you can express yourself in a way that makes sense to others. You have words and phrases that convey what you know. You can write in plain language—you don’t get bogged down with too much unnecessary information or technical jargon (which I see becoming increasingly common, especially among the younger generations, who seem to feel that they need to fill pages with fluff).

grammar school was top-rated for a long time but ultimately fell into disfavor because of its emphasis on memorization and rote learning. No one learned how language is supposed to be assembled; rather, they learned by rote. They learned by memorizing lists of words and how to spell them correctly. Someone else told them what they needed to know.

Why were they so popular? Because they helped people survive in school. They taught the fundamentals of language and writing, allowing students to learn other subjects, like math or science. They didn’t force students to rely on fancy language or complex sentence constructions—they just taught the basics in a way that was easy for the student body at the time (which was much younger than it is today).

If you create a curriculum that requires your students to learn grammar and writing, you teach them how their subject matter should be expressed in clear, concise language. You are teaching them how to communicate effectively. If you’re teaching a subject that requires knowledge about the aspects of language and expression, then your curriculum should include instruction in those areas. Otherwise, you’re just teaching what people learn in a science class (i.e., the subject matter, not the skills to be used regarding the subject matter).

By providing necessary grammar materials for schools, we can allow our students to have an education about this important part of learning English-language arts. And we need those materials now more than ever because of the population explosion that has occurred over the last forty years. Why? Because we all speak English today.

Conclusion.

It is not a very difficult thing to put together a curriculum that teaches grammar and writing in a way that truly helps our students. It is pretty straightforward once you know how. People serious about improving the overall quality of education in our nation need to focus on improving those areas of study which impact the ability to communicate effectively.