The Carnival of Education is back at its starting point, The Ed Wonks.

NYC Educator posts the teaching grammar, which has been out of fashion since she started teaching 22 years ago. He doubts kids will pick up grammar from reading if they don’t read much.

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.

Graycie at Today’s Homework has more.

It doesn’t do any good to tell little Johnny to break up his run-on sentences if he doesn’t know what a good sentence is. Sarah Jane will never be able to use commas correctly if she doesn’t know what they’re for. The language of discussing writing is grammar.

I don’t believe that it has to be dry, boring, or confusing. It is possible to teach (and learn!) simple grammar so that students can write properly and clearly to say what they mean in a way that lets their readers understand their thoughts.

Apollos Academy hosts this week’s Carnival of Homeschooling.

About Joanne


  1. wayne martin says:

    Several posters have pointed out that they learned a lot about English from studying a foreign language. This is true, because foreign language teachers seem to understand that you can’t really learn a language unless you learn its syntax. Syntax is the language’s framework for communicating thoughts, a point English teachers seem to have missed somewhere along the line.

    Kids take English for 12 years in the US school system, yet they don’t learn to read and write effectively. If the schools are ever to deliver, fixing the “English” problem is the place to start. The teaching Syntax is the first order of business in this most important enterprise.

  2. Richard Aubrey says:

    I had a comp class in college in which the required submission was no more than one paragraph. By spreading the margins, right and left, top and bottom, you could get a pretty big paragraph on the maximum of one page.
    Still, the requirement for compression forced us to think hard about how to state something clearly in the fewest possible words. We didn’t figure out until later that the fewer the words, the more likely it is to be clear–if you put all the relevant information in.
    We also discovered that good, traditional grammar rules were the key to being clear. When you can’t gas on about what you already said, you have to say it right the first time. Good grammar forces you to put the right forms of the words in the right places to make one point and preclude others, thereby making unnecessary further explication.
    There’s a reason newspapers have style books. They’re not looking for “style”, but for clarity. You don’t get that without structure.
    Which means grammar.

  3. In 10th grade , I remember homework where we would write 20 sentences demonstrating particular concepts or structures. We spent about 9 weeks on this. It was honors English, but in our public school system, honors really wasn’t that strenuous.

    What I remember most from this class is that the subject matter for all of the sentences was the same short story – Hemingway’s ‘Big Two-Hearted River’. All that time, one short story. Wrote hundreds of sentences using similar style or subject matter to that used in this story. I have never read anything else Hemingway wrote, and I never plan to either!

    In one class on Organizational Theory during my Ph.D., we had to write one page, double spaced papers on topics like “What makes something creative?” using the research and theory covered in that week’s readings. In many ways, much tougher and more interesting than the usual research proposals we churned out in most of our theory classes.