Grammar in schools

On the comeback of grammar in the new Australian curriculum for English. In the Sydney Morning Herald.

Grammar was cut in the ’70s because of a view it didn’t help students’ writing, said Dr Sally Humphrey from the University of Sydney’s linguistics department.

”It was like, ‘We’re just going to give you building blocks; we’re not going to show you how it works in text.”’ The grammar starring in the new curriculum ”isn’t a set of rules for ‘correct’ use”, she said, but ”a set of resources or a tool kit” to be used according to the situation – whether it’s texting, giving a presentation in class or writing a history essay. [...]

It’s about ”letting kids in on the ‘secret’ of how good writers and good text producers do their work through the resources of language, through the resources of grammar – ‘hey, this is how it’s done!’,” Dr Humphrey said. ”And that’s an equity issue … Kids who haven’t got access to middle-class homes and middle-class ways of using language that are valued in the schools, they do need [the workings of language] made explicit.”

The draft curriculum is open for comment until 23 May 2010.

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