sábado, 13 de noviembre de 2010


During the late 1960’s and the early 1970’s, education, influenced by the social changes of the 60’s went through a period where the teaching of grammar was thought to be stifling to creativity. Often I was made to feel like a dinosaur for teaching grammar.  Oddly enough, much of the criticism came from colleagues who held master’s degrees. It was so easy for them to think like that but they already had grammar skills or they wouldn’t have been able to write a master’s thesis.  Then, why did they want to deny these same skills to present and future students?  Nobody is obviously against progress in education but, in the heat of the excitement of making changes, we must be very sure that what we consider to be progression is not regression, or even suppression, in disguise.

There came the moment when teachers were told into learning to use a computer.  As for myself, the instructor suggested that I would learn more quickly if I worked on a continuous project.  I spent every opportunity available to me in the computer room; early mornings, lunch times, after school, and in the evenings (learning to use new technologies has always been a slow time-consuming process to me). But thank goodness I managed to get used to so many new words and expressions that now it's become an integral part of my everyday's life. You cannot measure progress against your plan.

However, in this world of ‘instant everything’ the art of discipline is easily eroded.  With the flick of a switch, the push of a button, the turn of a dial, or the click of a mouse, we can be distracted immediately.  Mastering a technique is not instant.  It needs the discipline to focus, to organize, and to practise.  It also needs the encouragement of parents and teachers.  It is time to stop giving grammar a bad name and look at it for what it is: a technique.  It is a tool that can enhance creativity, not stifle it. 

Grammar is not only a valuable tool for creative writing but also a wonderful aid for teaching.  When I was guiding students in creative writing classes, it was so helpful, from a teaching point of view, to be able to say, “Here you used an adjective where you should have used an adverb” or “at this point you used a principal verb without an auxiliary verb” or “if you place the subject at the end of this sentence it will improve the flow of your story.  ”This is a much more satisfying learning situation than saying, “You have made some mistakes so I have inserted the corrections in red ink.”

There are many comprehensive grammar books available in bookstores and on the Internet.  No matter what resources you prefer to use, never underestimate the importance of grammar.  It would be wise to note that if you can’t speak well and write well – your windows of opportunity are closed.

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