Like many things in the world, English and grammer are not perfect. We see this idea repeat itself throughout Anne Curzan’s article “Says Who? Teaching and Questioning the Rules of Grammer.” She addresses the issue of the continuous change seen throughout language and becomes passionate in defying the strict standards imposed on Standard English. Even as a teenager, it is easy for me to identify and see the point that Curzan makes about “Standard English, like all living languages, is changing” (875). From slang words to proper english, language itself is not the same as it was back then and this is a problem when teaching grammer to students. The lack of challenges students refuse to give teachers makes it easier to teach the material in a “right” and “wrong” way. Talking language defies writing language but no one seems to care when sitting in class. If you are talking in a way that opposes Standard English, why not question it? As Curzan says, “I am saying that it is unfair to encourage our students to critically question everything except the very conventions in which they are asked to write” (871). Curzan’s point is very interesting because as a student, I have experienced the lack of challenges given to English teachers in the classrooms. In a typical English class, students are use to being taught not how or why it has become relevant in English and this is what Curzan discourages when teaching grammer or English to students.
Another aspect of Curzan’s article that I found interesting, was bringing home language into an educational setting. I agree yet disagree with her research on this idea. I agree with Curzan that “language creates and maintains our communities. Through language, we assert our identities. And we judge others on language” (873). The capability of language to influence and change culture is incredible. In fact, language is the first thing I notice about a person. When meeting someone new I listen to what words they use and how they form sentences. However, I am not quick to say whether or not they are inferior or not. In many of my classes, I have read articles that were horrible in grammer but were labeled as scholarly. Therefore, they way we speak should not definite our social status. But of course, it is difficult not to judge people because of the many stereotypes and norms that have been integrated into our behavior through culture. My opposition to Curzan on this particular subject is that “no one should feel they have to give up what they bring to school in order to acquire a new set of grammatical rules” (Curzan 874). Coming from an urban area, it is hard to agree with this quote because of the environment people have grown up in that inhibits them from speaking coherently. Pertaining specifically to urban areas, I believe that they should be able to learn grammer in the same way others are born into it. If kids who speak slang all the time bring that into the classroom and are willing to acquire these grammatical rules, then why teach them in the first place? This is where I disagree with Curzan because she fails to indicate certain exceptions to this idea.
In my first tutoring session, I had a similar experience to the questioning of grammer and writing styles displayed in Curzan. As I was reading over my student’s paper and asking her questions, I noticed that she replied “I don’t know” to most of my questions. When asking her about what her teacher said about the topic, she explained how her teacher did not really elaborate on the aspects of writing a paper. So instead of criticizing the teacher’s lack of guidance and the student’s lack of questioning- I explained to her that there are different ways to write a paper while using the acceptable format. Curzan talks about this in her article and I fully appreciate the help it gives students and to myself as well. So when Curzan believes that grammer should be questioned, I agree that it would be assistance to people in language as a whole. However, some things in English should not change entirely because it has already been implanted into our thinking.