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1 Brett Hartman Professor Whicker English 151 March 12, 2012

Grammar is a subject in the academic world that has created much controversy in the teaching of writing. Grammar is a subject in the literacy world that is a tool to construct fully developed thoughts and ideas into effective and efficient writing. However, teaching methods and misguided focuses force students to have skewed thoughts about grammar. Recently, due to government interference, resulting in high stakes testing, has forced teachers to emphasize certain subjects, while leaving the importance of the subject elsewhere. While grammar will continue to be a part of writing, the focus in public education, rather than helping students gain increased control over their writing, actually can cripple their writing skills all together. According to dictionary.com grammar is defined as the study of the way the sentences of a language are constructed; morphology and syntax. As reported by Kolln, in Patrick Hartwells article Grammar, Grammars, and the Teaching of Grammar, he describes five definitions of the word grammar, which are the grammar in our heads our native competence; scientific descriptions of the grammar in our heads; usage often called linguistic etiquette; school grammar; stylistic grammar (Kolln 26). Grammar is an essential feature to the English language. Without grammar, sentences would hold no structure or meaning,

2 thus, making grammar a powerful tool in which should be not only be taught, but taught in the correct manner, to everyone. The way in which grammar is taught to students is unconventional and inefficient. Indeed, grammar is taught separately as if it is unrelated to literature and composition. Grammar is a unique feature within literature; grammar could not survive without literature, likewise, literature could not fully function without grammar. With that in mind, it is crucial for grammar to be taught in accordance with literature and composition for the concepts of grammar to be thoroughly understood. Where as in todays English lessons, grammar is often being taught similar to that of a math lesson. Moreover, teachers teach the concepts of grammar over and over again like numbers on flashcards. How grammar is taught. It is taught separately from English lessons all together. It should be taught hand in hand with English lessons. Not to be taught like a math lesson. The system of teaching grammar is flawed. Writing a sentence is done by building onto the individual pieces of that sentence which is the opposite of how grammar is taught. Grammar is taught by breaking sentences down. For example, breaking a sentence down to find the noun, the verb, the misplaced commas, and the wrongly capitalized words is a common exercise used by teachers to instruct their students. This method is useless in the sense that students do not absorb the meaning of how the sentence was actually formed. Without the knowledge of understanding how a sentence is pieced together, grammar in turn cannot be understood. With that said, the system in which grammar is taught is crippling

3 students ability to understand and utilize grammar in its full potential of creating structure and giving meaning to writing and English. Grammar is being taught initially in elementary school. During this early age, young students creativity and imagination are at an all time high in which case should be taken advantage of, meaning that children should be focusing more on the content of writing and less so on the grammatical aspect of writing. Then when these students advance further in their education their attention will be mainly focused on grammar when writing an essay or preparing a presentation rather than on the quality of the content within which is the more important factor when communicating ones message. In addition, it is ignorant to think young children can learn and understand grammatical information when they have not even fully learned the general aspects of English and English itself. To illustrate this point, one must learn the principles of addition and subtraction to understand multiplication ad division. Thus, grammar should be taught later down the road when students understanding of the literature and composition aspects of the English language have reached a level high enough where incorporating grammar into the mix will be beneficial. Students need the basic skills of writing before being expected to learn the mechanical side of writing. (Warner 78). It is a conceived notion that students do not retain the grammatical information they have been taught, but few instructors know the reason behind this conception. Ann L. Warner suggests that teaching young students traditional grammar is overall a useless practice because they are still lagging in formal

4 operational thinking (Warner 77). Furthermore, if students are not intellectually capable of absorbing the basic and complex principles of grammar then continuously drilling them with grammar exercises is like beating a dead dog, pointless. Teaching and learning traditional grammar is not perceived as fun or interesting. While this may hold true, how is it expected of students to be excited to grasp the grammatical information when it is presented before them by their teachers who either have viewpoints such as teaching traditional grammar is a waste of time or believe it is necessary because they are expected to teach grammar? (Warner 77, 78). If teachers tend to apprehend their grammar instruction then their presentation of the information will portray how they feel. Moreover, students, with their already dreadful feeling about learning grammar, sense this and, of course, continue to not look forward to the grammar exercises, but who can blame them when even their teachers do not want to teach it? The SAT, ACT, OGT, and proficiency tests should pave the way for exactly what teachers should be teaching their students. These tests are crucially important to a students future. Excelling in one test to pass onto the following grade, then passing the OGTs to graduate high school. While their scores on the SAT and ACT determine largely what college or university they will be accepted into, which in turn, shapes their future. Although these tests are essential to the academic curriculum, they ultimately end up limiting the content teachers are able to teach to their students. The importance does not lie on what teachers think is right, it lies on what

5 information is necessary for students to gain to pass tests such as these. Teachers keep in mind the high scores that they want their students to achieve, thereby, having their teaching methods influenced by the strife for high scores. Furthermore, teachers do not always teach grammatical information necessary for future circumstances. For example, a salesman working for a marketing firm will need to know how to write pitches, speeches, and presentations to not only the firm, but as well as the clientele. In a general English class having a grammar lesson on business styled writing is not common. In conclusion, traditional grammar is both taught and learned in ineffective and inefficient ways. It is beginning to be taught at an early age when young students do not have the intellectual capability to comprehend and retain grammatical information. What is more, teachers nationwide tend to present grammatical information in a way that hinders rather than inspires students desire to learn traditional grammar. Not only do students not wan to learn it, the way in which they are taught to analyze grammatical parts of a sentence by breaking the sentence down is flawed because creating a sentence is done by forming grammatical pieces together. Also, it is important that teachers are teaching their students the grammatical material that they will be tested on in order for them to pass, but it should not consume the entire focal point of grammatical lessons. All in all, the grammar teaching system is ultimately flawed causing students hardships with comprehending grammatical information.

6 Works Cited Appelman, Alyssa, and Paul Bolls. "Article Recall, Credibility Lower with Grammar Errors." Newspaper Research Journal 32.2: 50-62. Academic Search Complete. Beason, Larry. "Ethos and Error: How Business People React to Errors." College Composition and Communication 53 (2001): 33-64. JSTOR. Web. 1 Mar. 2012. Kolln, Martha. (Nov., 1996). Rhetorical Grammar: A Modification Lesson. The English Journal. Vol. 85 No. 7. http://www.jstor.org/stable/820503?seq=2 National Council of Teachers. Web Retrieved 19 Jan. 2012. Warner, Ann. L., (Sept., 1993). If The Shoe No Longer Fits, Wear It Anyway? The English Journal, vol. 82 no. 5. http://www.jstor.org/stable/820822/ National Council of Teachers. (1993). Web. Retrieved 19. Jan, 2012.