Tuesday, September 04, 2007

What Happened to Good Old Fashioned English?

Received an e-mail from "parental unit" who happens to be the child's aunt. Boy lives with said aunt. Identifies self as worker at nearby middle school. Makes many inquiries about said child. Does so with several violations of said English grammar.

I am a priss. If your writing isn't grammatically correct, you shouldn't be publishing. (Now, as sure as I am sitting here, there is probably something wrong with this post. But bear with me.)
As I was replying to the poorly written e-mail, I decided to investigate what this aunt does at the middle school.

Wait for it.

Language arts teacher.

Don't we have standards anymore? Or have we just become so lazy that we don't care how we present ourselves? E-mail is considered to be mail. It is publishable and it is able to be subpeonaed in a court of law. Why would you send someone a piece of garbage just because it goes over wire and it isn't written on a piece of paper?

I told my students today that they couldn't leave my classroom ignorant of the rules of grammar. I told them that people would think they were stupid if they couldn't write a complete sentence, if they couldn't identify the subject noun in a sentence or if they couldn't find the verb.

And let me gripe about one more thing. Last year, our principal bought into some crazy-assed English program where you chant and read stuff to the kids (it is so damned boring, I had to force myself to do it) but they never really practice the fundamentals. The 500 page - I said 500- teacher's manual actually says that children will do anything if you make them. Tell them how important this is. Just make them do it. I believe the author of this crap realized how awful her drivel was and was just trying to keep you going (because really, you don't need to know anything to "teach" this stuff). Like one of my favorite teachers said, it is like the Harold Hill Think Method. (See The Music Man.) Think really hard and you will learn you some English. Think harder. There. See? You know English.

This year, I am seeing the fruits of that little experiment. My kids from last year can sing you the song about linking verbs, but it doesn't transfer to paper and pencil. They can't locate a linking verb in a sentence to save their lives. They can't separate simple subject from simple predicate. They have a hard time distinguishing fragment from sentence.

But they have to write. And there are rules they must know. So I continue onward.



Anonymous tamasha said...

That's a shame. I've seen Orton-Gillingham work, if that's what you're talking about.

9/04/2007 10:01 PM  
Blogger cupcake said...

You know you're singing my song, sister. (AND playing it on a trombone.) But for the sake of the almighty test scores, I have had to forsake teaching my kiddies the nuances of prepositions in lieu of teaching them how to write to a prompt. I'm clinging to the hope that as long as they don't actually use 'boy' as a verb, we're okay.

But as you so saliently point out, we're not okay, and those same kids will be another teacher's problem next year. And that teacher surely will curse me up one hall and down the other.

I need to try harder. I need to pick both battles - both grammar and writing. I know I do.

9/04/2007 10:03 PM  
Blogger teachergirl said...

Tamasha - It looks like Orton-Gillingham is an incredible program that gets down to basics. It also looks a lot like the way I learned how to read. No, I am afraid I am bad mouthing Shurley English.

9/05/2007 7:00 AM  
Blogger The Vegas Art Guy said...

Shurley you jest!

Sorry couldn't help it!

My problem is that I'm studying to be an English Teacher and commas are still my worst enemy.

My poor advanced comp professor last year, I think he had a comma comment saved in word just for me.

LOL at least I'll know the plight of my students who struggle with the mean, nasty comma...

9/06/2007 11:23 PM  

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