Rei Noguchi’s book, “Grammar and the Teaching of Writing”, is mainly explaining how grammar in our education system is not what it should be and a lot of time, effort, and expenses is dedicated to this topic, yet it is not doing the students too much good. This is not to say that grammar is unimportant, because it is vital, but Noguchi is just trying to say that it is being approached by many teachers in an extremely unsystematic way. Grammar is necessary to a certain extent, but should not be such a heavy focus in the classroom because being a good writer does not mean you know where to place commas; writing is an art, and teachers should be teaching the art of writing, not how to construct a sentence.
Learning grammar over and over again does not necessarily make you a better writer. When I was in elementary, middle, and especially high school, I hated grammar. I was not good at it and I felt that it was not necessary for good writing as long as I had the basics down. It seemed to me, and the article tended to agree with me, that good grammar does not by any means make you a better writer. Especially now that everything is done technologically and we have spell check and grammar check on many writing programs, grammar may not be learned and embedded in student’s heads, but it can be corrected for a coherent paper. However, I do feel as a tutor and even just from peer editing in the past, that when a student’s paper is filled with grammatical errors, it truly does take away from the paper and all you focus on are those errors. That being said, grammar is necessary to be taught, but it seems students are truly not being taught grammar in a beneficial way, so I would say it is crucial to alter the curriculum in order to see improvements in students writing and grammar. They need incentive and bettering their writing could be that incentive, but spitting back grammar rules on a test is not doing anyone any good.
I am not saying that grammar should be avoided all together, but it really should be integrated into writing so that students feel that they have a purpose for grammar and get intrinsically rewarded when using it effectively. In her book, Rei Noguchi explains that writing is broken up into three different categories, content, organization and style. (9). Noguchi argues that content and organization within writing have nothing to do with grammar and are just about what is in the paper and how it is arranged. I do feel that in some senses arrangement is grammar because you need to know where to start new paragraphs, indent, and do other things in relation to organization. On the other hand she says that style is related to punctuation and I tend to disagree in some senses with that as well. To me, style in how you word things, and the diction you use to get your point across and in a sense, the patterns within your writing. I feel that style is your personal expression within your writing and should not be tied down by the rules of grammar. Rei Noguchi makes an excellent point when she states that too often students are taught about syntax rather than actual meanings of words and how to use them. (12). In my opinion this is extremely true and needs to change; this above anything will improve student’s writing. Grammar is necessary, but at the same time , should not be put on this pedestal.
As a tutor, I ignore grammar all together; it is my feeling that if a student is coming to me for writing help, they need help with a thesis, finding quotes and analyzing works, not punctuation. It is truly discouraging to see these students come into college thinking they know how to write and getting the run ripped out from under them when they get back their first paper. In many high schools, including my own, writing was a simple formula and once that was mastered you were a good writer and then we focused on grammar, not bettering our actual writing skills. As I’ve said before, it’s not that grammar should not be taught, but it needs to be integrated and in some senses put on the back burner. We have spell check for a reason, it is not necessary to know every grammar rule in the books, and until Microsoft or the Iphone comes out with an app to write an essay for you, we should be focusing on essay writing much more than we are on grammar.