Saturday, June 14, 2008

Functional Literacy - Ejakashun 'simportnt

Grammar guide for English teachers 'full of basic errors'
A TEACHERS' guide to grammar circulated by the English Teachers Association of Queensland is riddled with basic errors, leading an internationally respected linguistics professor to describe it as "the worst published material on English grammar" he has seen.
University of Queensland emeritus professor Rodney Huddleston, one of the principal authors of The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, said it took the association about one year to correct the errors, and even then it confined most of the corrections to its website rather than in the journal and did not republish the guide.

"Anyone who analyses 'won't' and 'capable of' as adverbs, 'a pair' and 'set of' as adjectives, or 'Sam's' as a possessive pronoun has no business to be preparing a resource on English grammar for teachers."
Kevin Donnelly adds 'Class Based Waffle'

THE debacle surrounding the resources developed by the English Teachers Association of Queensland, designed to "help teachers to defend and explain the
place of grammar in the school curriculum and in our classrooms", underscores our dumbed-down education system.

The child of a friend, eight going on nine, was given a problem for homework. She had to work out how many days something would take from one date to another. I started to recite "Thirty days has September, April, June and November..." Her mother said to me, "Oh, no. They aren't allowed to use that."

So, like the times tables, which lost favour when I was in late primary school, these little rhymes, even the little ABC song, are not allowed to be used to help remind kids (and adults) to remember things like how many days in the month and the alphabet.

This is silly. How else do they remember? It's like trying to teach kids to read with 'see-say', rather than phonet, er, phonic, er, using the sounds the letters or letter combinations make.

What are they thinking?

PS I taught her the days of the month song.


Minicapt said...

I have a five-year-old nephew who likes airplanes. His favourite books, at the moment, are "Fundamentals Of Fighter Design" (with all kinds of interesting drawings to be explained) and Billy Bishop's "Winged Warfare" (originally printed 1918). His school teacher will be having some fun.


Boy on a bike said...

I use the "knuckle counting" method to determine the number of days in a month.

As for grammar, it's all Greek to me. I can hardly tell a verb from a noun, let alone an adverb or a conjunctivitis whatever.

Caz said...

The knuckle counting method? Sheesh, I never knew there was such a thing!

They're not "allowed" to use the song? Holy crap!

Next you'll tell me that it's illegal to teach times tables because memorizing multiplications is considered cheating.

kae said...

Boy and Caz, don't ask me about the knuckle method.
All's I know about knuckles is knuckle sandwiches, and I think they're different.. and there's a game called knuckles, too.
Hand palm down, make a fist. You and your opponent put your hands together so that your second and third joints align. Then you have to try and hit the other person's hand by knocking it on top....

Thirty days hath September, April, June and November...

Anonymous said...

The problem is that traditional grammar was banned from the schools for too long. A whole generation was brought up without it, and that generation was then expected to supply the teachers of the generation following. How can they teach what they were never taught? There aren't enough of the older teachers still around to teach the younger teachers what they need to know. There was a "golden chain" of English teaching, and it has been wantonly broken.

If the blind lead the blind, shall they not both fall into the ditch? What we see here is the muck at the bottom of the ditch.

- EdwardM
(grandson of an English teacher, and sometime tutor in English at an Australian university where I got to see the results of this folly at close range)