Thursday, February 21, 2008

Stop Crippling our Kids

"D" wrote to question the results of a recent poll indicating that 70% of the teachers support grammar instruction. Then through some innuendo that didn't make much sense to me, he posited some kind of relationship between 70% of the professionals who support various degrees of direct grammar instruction with 70% of the human herd who supported Bush's invasion of Iraq. I don't get it. "EB"

It is interesting to note that both the Greeks and Romans each developed and refined philosophy, grammar, logic and the argument formats where premises supported conclusions.

Grammar added logic, purpose and meaning to language.

Logic was used to determine the difference between truth and fallacy.

Instead of comparing grammar to war or swimming lets use people.

People who say "we don't need grammar" are using the same logic as people who said "the earth is flat".

For centuries these "Flat Earthers" could say the earth is flat - you can not prove it is round.

First "we don't need grammar" theory was - humans are built with grammar already installed.

Careful scientific testing since the early days of the 1980's have proven this wrong.

Second "we don't need grammar" theory - Students will just pick up the grammar with massive English input.

Which is why so many post 1985 high school and college grads can not write a correct sentence.

"Flat Earthers" did not take kindly to their pet theory being proven wrong - they really tried to demonize the earth is round believers.

Listen to this from an anti-grammarian" For those on the grammar translation side it is a formal system of rules first developed by a bunch of monks in the middle ages and based on Latin." And more from this guy: "languages come from usage, and usage follows no rules".

The new learning research is like the early round earth believers who developed methods and experience to prove their theory. People actually sailed around the earth - people used balloons to show the earth's curvature - progress eventualy proved the theory correct.

Eventually everyone learned the earth was round and eventually the new learning research will prove how people learn languages best.

I am betting on grammar - after all the last 15 years of real science have proven it accelerates learning and should not be ignored. In the next five to ten years I really hope we have the conclusive evidence of how people learn languages best.

Now for my throwing back the demonization "so we can flush out the flat earthers who are crippling our kids".

Ross McBride
ESL in Canada


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