Getting Back to
Q. Why do older people often decry the loss
of grammar instruction in schools? Isn't that basically irrelevant in this day
so central to the logic of our language that a lack of understanding of it is
as detrimental as a lack of understanding of the basic logorithms of
arithmetic. It's the mortar for the building blocks of our language, the
foundation of effective communication. It's the reason elementary schools used to
be called "grammar" schools.
of it is why people cannot communicate clearly and coherently. When parents and
taxpayers call out for "back to the basics" reforms, they're usually thinking
of grammar instruction high on the list of things they believe kids need.
it appears that the only students who are being taught English grammar
systematically and specifically are the children of foreigners, for whom
English is a second language. Native-born children of generations of
English-speaking American parents are not likely to get much grammar at all.
Why not? For the most part, their teachers never got grammar instruction,
either. It was dropped in the loosey goosey 1960s, unfortunately, and is only
now climbing its way back.
taxpayers should campaign with teachers, administrators and school boards for a
quality grammar program such as Shurley Grammar or Jensen Grammar. A British
product which is well-recommended is GCSE English Grammar from CGP Books.
district or school won't address the need for in-class grammar instruction, you
might be advised to scour second-hand bookshops and look online on www.amazon.com and other sites for an
old-fashioned textbook to afterschool your child yourself. Examples: First Aid in
English by Angus Maciver; Rediscover Grammar by David Crystal, and Teach
Yourself English Grammar by B. Pythian.
Homework: If your child is in later grade
school and your school doesn't appear to be adopting a good grammar program any
time, soon, you might investigate a short, intensive Latin course on an
afterschool basis, through a tutor.