Grammar is taught throughout almost every grammar and high school’s curriculum. However, it is a subject that gets very little attention, compared to history, science, writing, math, etc. Even health and film class are given more weight then courses in grammar. Many schools simply have their writing teachers throw a grammar lesson into their classes here and there simply because they find it somewhat important. In these brief encounters with grammar, students might participate in some comma placement exercises and learn about fragments. When I was a grammar school student, I asked myself what the point of all this was and I can guarantee that most students feel the same way and never enjoyed when grammar came around in class. Today’s teachers do not put the work in to effectively teach grammar. If they do, it is usually very time-consuming and boring. This leads to a pointless waste of time in class because the students will more than likely forget everything. Teachers are supposed to teach grammar to make students better writers. However, where is the tie-in? This is what Rei Noguchi discusses in her essay, “Grammar and the Teaching of Writing: Limits and Possibilities.” Many people would agree that in today’s schools, learning grammar does not make one a better writer. Noguchi is interested in how to change that.
Noguchi feels that having a strong grasp in grammar is very important to becoming a better writer. However, without teachers who instruct grammar properly, teaching it is pointless. Many teachers try to fit in a grammar lesson here and there, just so “their students know.” the problem with that is that although they are providing the information, they do not test their students on the material in order to make sure the information was retained and taught successfully. This creates a problem for what we know involving what works and what does not when teaching grammar. Not to mention, even when tested, many students cannot apply what they have learned due to the lack of interest. The question then becomes where is the tie-in between grammar and writing is? Perhaps if the connection is found, a proper way to teach grammar could emerge.
Creative writing is all about coming up with original ideas and connecting them. Unfortunately, grammar really does not have much to do with coming up with original material to write about. Grammar comes in when the actual writing down of ideas begins. Grammar adds to the style of the writing, not the creativeness. Noguchi even says in her essay that American society might have to entirely change the social standard of teaching grammar in order to determine the connections and have them work in the classroom effectively. In the end, though, Noguchi feels that teachers should focus on “surgical strikes” instead of “saturated bombing.” In other words, the issues that should be addressed should relate to specific grammar issues that students have trouble with that are related to writing instead of teaching the same old, boring encyclopedia of grammar. “With less material to present, teachers can more easily organize and present their lessons; with less material to absorb, students should retain more and be able to apply more readily what they have learned.” (Noguchi 36).
Grammar is important, but what should be taught should revolve around the specifics. As a tutor, I have noticed that everyone makes grammatical mistakes. However, these issues do not interfere with my student’s positions, as well as their connections. If they did, then the issue would have been addressed to me in a much more serious manner. As long as the these grammar issues can easily be fixed and do not interfere with a student’s thesis or other important ideas, then there really isn’t anything drastic going on. In relation to Noguchi, I believe that as long as a teacher’s students are not all making the same mistakes and that it is not interfering with emerging new ideas, then there should not be too much concern. After all, as tutors and teachers, we are looking for students to be creative writers, not grammar point-dexters.