I learned grammar from Mrs. Jessie Bird, the best darned grammar teacher in the WORLD. She taught us grammar inside out and backwards. She taught us diagramming sentences—which to this day I place so much value on because it helps me pick out so readily sentences that are “wrong.” I can spot misplaced modifiers, problems with pronoun/antecedent agreement, dangling modifiers, problems with parallelism....and on and on and on. (You know, diagramming is really just a “graphic organizer” for ALL the grammar conventions, isn’t it? A visual?)
As I continued on through college, my rock SOLID grasp of grammar always helped me. As an editor and writer, of course, I have benefitted tremendously from that deeply imbedded sense of grammar and usage knowledge. So I believe we shoud teach it well, teach it often, teach it both through group instruction on the “front end” and through student instruction (revisions) on the “back end.”
Teaching English—the writing component—is much like teaching someone to build a house. There’s the construction component: here’s how you measure, hammer nails, sand this, saw this. This is grammar. Without a good grasp of this, you do not have a good finished product (house OR writing). Then there is the architecture component: here’s a nice element, add this for a more “modern” flair, this detail or that detail to create a feel or effect. This is the creative thinking, “mind” element. Working in groups to arrive at decisions about writing ideas, reenvisioning, drafting. It takes BOTH done WELL to arrive at a successful finished piece.
Received on Mon Jun 27 08:46:20 2005