15 Jan 2011

Hardcore gerund on gerund action

Submitted by Karl Hagen
I've been neglecting my blog shamefully, I know. I promise to do better.

When Texas was arguing over new curriculum standards for its public schools, I heard a lot of discussion and commentary about the science standards (the usual creationism/ID fights), but nothing at all about the English standards.

It appears, however, that a large does of explicit grammar has been added to the standards, and as a result, lots of English teachers need to bone up on their grammar.

That's not surprising, considering the way that explicit grammatical instruction has been neglected for the last 50 years or so. This would be a lovely chance to get grammar into the classroom in the right way, but I have no hopes that it will actually happen on a wide scale.

The article indicated that there was some awareness that the old drill-and-kill methods of grammatical instruction were ineffective, but I'll bet the vast majority of teachers go back to it anyway. It's just easy to do, and there are plenty of textbook aides to help.

Not addressed at all in the article is the actual grammatical content that will be taught. If we're lucky, the material will be based on the work of Martha Kolln or others who have done excellent work in trying to incorporate some of the insights of linguistics into a traditional framework, but I'm not sanguine.

The whole revision of the Texas curriculum felt to me like a conscious attempt to turn the clock back. So something tells me that instead of new insights about language, there will be a large dose of that vile, stinking heap of outdated grammatical misinformation known as Warriner's.