To Teach or Not To Teach?
People are judged by the way they carry themselves, which includes the way they speak, and first impressions are very important because they can leave lasting impressions. If a person can not or does not speak properly, then he or she will be judged uneducated. The same is true of writing: if your email is full of grammatical errors, people will judge you unintelligent. Therefore, even after reading the assigned chapters from Grammar and the Teaching of Writing and last assignment’s reading, Says Who? The Teaching and Questioning of Grammar, I still stand by the idea that formal grammar should be taught in schools.
Please do not think that I believe that the knowledge of grammar will automatically improve writing. As my expository writing tutor told me, “It is not enough to go through your rough draft and check it for grammar errors and correct them. You must go through and make sure you have ideas, arguments, and a project.” I made the fatal mistake of simply “cleaning up” my grammar and sentences, but not improving my writing. We can not necessarily improve our writing through grammar, but we can make our writing coherent and understandable. This misuse of grammar can turn good ideas into a jumbled mess, so poorly written that its meaning is lost or changed. I have one student who has great ideas and ability to comprehend the readings, but my student lacks a basic knowledge of grammar, which detracts from his ideas and interpretations. I find myself struggling to understand what my student has written, but when I ask for a verbal explanation, I am able to see the hard work and the process of thinking. Although my student has done well in school, he or she never learned basic grammatical knowledge and it shows.
Perhaps it is time to introduce a new teaching method for grammar. Maybe we should focus more on the common errors and the big picture so that students can write what the mean. I still believe strongly that all students should have a sound knowledge of grammar because they might not need to write expos or research papers in their careers, but they will have to write emails, memos, and résumés, which will be judged by potential employers, and poor grammar could lose them the job offer.