Understanding Written Grammar


A guide for writers and anyone else whose activities require using the written word correctly, including business and professional people, students and their parents — and all of us who did not get it the first time
Have you been asking yourself, “Why didn’t I learn this in school?” Do you blame yourself for having been a lazy or inattentive student way back then? Don’t. Chances are, you didn’t learn grammar because you weren’t taught grammar. You weren’t taught it because your English teachers didn’t know it. And they didn’t know it because their education professors told them that grammar is difficult, arcane, and quite useless in learning to read and write.
The professors have a point. For the past seventy years, grammar has often been presented to students — if it is presented — as a bunch of unexplained and sometimes erroneous rules (difficult) with meaningless terminology (arcane), supported by deadening exercises far removed from real writing (useless). In short, if grammar has been taught at all, it’s been taught poorly.
To buttress their anti-grammar position, these professors cite a dozen pieces of research that “prove” teaching grammar is a waste of time. These research studies would be hilarious, if their impact weren’t so serious. Typically, one group of students is given hours of grammar drill of the difficult, arcane, and useless sort. A second “control” group spends those same hours reading literature and writing papers. After several months, both groups are tested on their writing skills. The result (surprise, surprise): the control group writes somewhat better papers than the grammar group. As it happens, several recent and carefully constructed research studies have shown even more conclusively that teaching grammar as an integral and understandable part of a composition course sparks impressive gains in writing ability. Somehow, though, these results don’t always reach the education classes.
ISBN 0966512561
214 pages