I’m going to interrupt my regularly programmed focus on HR writing to get on my writer soap box.
If you don’t care about grammar, feel free to stop reading here. No judgment, I promise.
If you do care about grammar, please sit down. What I’m about to share might horrify you like it did me.
Here’s the situation…
After reading my son’s book summary last week, I sent an email to his 7th Grade English teacher. My son received 5/5 for the assignment. My question after reading what he’d submitted: why would he get full credit for that…er, piece of writing?
In my email I mentioned that I am a writer. That I have a passion for grammar (I know, awkward). I said I was curious how on Earth my son received five points for what he’d submitted. And that there wasn’t one note about the many, many errors. (I didn’t actually ask those questions…but I did say I’d noticed glaring errors that worried me.)
I inquired if there were ways we could work on grammar over the summer and mentioned that I’ve been doing this with my kids for several years.
His teacher replied the same day, and the long of the short of it: we don’t teach grammar in middle school anymore.
Whaaaaat?!? No grammar instruction? That’s why I wanted you to sit down.
If you’re thinking, “Well, surely they must teach it in elementary school?”
No, I have to tell you that’s also not the case. My younger son had some instruction in 4th grade. My older son really didn’t get any grammar instruction, aside from learning to punctuate the end of a sentence.
As for me, I’m forever grateful for the grammar drills and vocabulary lessons I had in Ms. Trull’s 8th Grade English class at Fernwood Middle School. Where would I be without her dedicated red pen?
I’d be sitting at my computer, relying on software to give me the answers. In other words, I’d be clueless. And I certainly wouldn’t be making a living as a writer.
After I emailed his teacher, I asked my son about the summary. He promptly pulled up another assignment. A well-written essay. It’s clear he knows his grammar.
But why hadn’t he used it the summary? It wasn’t a “real assignment.”
Basic rule for me as a writer: Real or not, we need to present our written ideas clearly. Grammar is a key part of that equation. But, much to my chagrin, we’re not teaching our kids that.