Anorak News | Syntax Inspectors

Syntax Inspectors

by | 19th, January 2005

‘IN the good old days before Labour set about abolishing grammar schools, even the man on the Clapham omnibus knew the difference between a pronoun and a preposition.

Lynne pictured waiting for an indecent preposition

Armed with years of old-fashioned grammar teaching, we could all construct sentences as long as the Great Wall of China and just as sturdy.

We had no need of Lynne Truss – a stray comma was punishable by a day in the stocks; a misplaced apostrophe attracted a custodial sentence.

So, imagine our surprise when we read in this morning’s Guardian that teaching children grammar does not help them write.

Academics at York University say teachers wanting to improve children’s writing skills would do better to help pupils combine shorter sentences to make longer ones.

The Government-funded study, billed as the most extensive of its kind, did not conclude that teaching formal grammar was “not interesting or useful in its own right”.

However, it said there were better things to concentrate on in a pressured school curriculum.

All of which has rather wrong-footed those like shadow education secretary Tim Collins and the readership of the Telegraph who have long argued for a back-to-basics approach to literacy teaching.

Headteacher Geoff Barton, for instance, insists that “there may be no evidence that grammar teaching has improved writing but equally there is no conclusive evidence that it hasn’t”.

As indeed there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that Elvis isn’t alive and well and shaking his pelvis at a Butlin’s near you this summer…’

Posted: 19th, January 2005 | In: Uncategorized Comment | TrackBack | Permalink