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Death to High School English
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 13859
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2011 9:31 pm    Post subject: Death to High School English Reply with quote

OK, this isn't, perhaps, directly related to EFL (but maybe more closely to ESL,) but I found this article to true to my life experiences, both as a student and as a teacher, that I had to post it. (The bold is mine.)

"Death to high school English

My college students don't understand commas, far less how to write an essay. Is it time to rethink how we teach?


Like so many depressive, creative, extremely lazy high-school students, I was saved by English class. I struggled with math and had no interest in sports. Science I found interesting, but it required studying. I attended a middling high school in central Virginia in the mid-'90s, so there were no lofty electives to stoke my artistic sensibility -- no A.P. art history or African-American studies or language courses in Mandarin or Portuguese. I lived for English, for reading. I spent so much of my adolescence feeling different and awkward, and those first canonical books I read, those first discoveries of Joyce, of Keats, of Sylvia Plath and Fitzgerald, were a revelation. Without them, I probably would have turned to hard drugs, or worse, one of those Young Life chapters so popular with my peers.

So I won't deny that I owe a debt to the traditional high-school English class, the class in which I first learned to read literature, to write about it and talk about it and recite it and love it. My English teachers were for the most part smart, thoughtful women who loved books and wanted to help other people learn to love them. Nothing, it seemed to me at the time, could make for a better class. Only now, a decade and a half later, after seven years of teaching college composition, have I started to consider the possibility that talking about classics might be a profound waste of time for the average high school student, the student who is college-bound but not particularly gifted in letters or inspired by the literary arts. I've begun to wonder if this typical high school English class, dividing its curriculum between standardized test preparation and the reading of canonical texts, might occupy a central place in the creation of a generation of college students who, simply put, cannot write.
For years now, teaching composition at state universities and liberal arts colleges and community colleges as well, I've puzzled over these high-school graduates and their shocking deficits. I've sat at my desk, a stack of their two-to-three-page papers before me, and felt overwhelmed to the point of physical paralysis by all the things they don't know how to do when it comes to written communication in the English language, all the basic skills that surely they will need to master if they are to have a chance at succeeding in any post-secondary course of study.

I've stared at the black markings on the page until my vision blurred, chronicling and triaging the maneuvers I will need to teach them in 14 short weeks: how to make sure their sentences contain a subject and a verb, how to organize their paragraphs around a main idea, how to write a working thesis statement or any kind of thesis statement at all. They don't know how to outline or how to organize a paper before they begin. They don't know how to edit or proofread it once they've finished. They plagiarize, often inadvertently, and I find myself, at least for a moment, relieved by these sentence- or paragraph-long reprieves from their migraine-inducing, quasi-incomprehensible prose.

Sometimes, in the midst of this grading, I cry. Not real tears, exactly -- more a spontaneous, guttural sob, often loud and unpleasant enough to startle my husband or children. There's just too damned much they need to learn in such a short period of time. It seems almost too late before we've begun.

And so recently, I've started asking them: "What exactly did you do in high-school English class?" And whether I ask them as a group or individually, whether I ask my best students or my worst, the answers I get are less than reassuring. I should add here that my students matriculate from a wide array of schools, everything from expensive prep schools and Midwestern publics, to military academies and boarding schools abroad. But despite this diversity, the answers I get from them about their preparation in the language arts are surprisingly similar.

Those who didn't make it onto the honors or A.P. track hardly mention writing or reading at all. They talk about giving oral presentations and keeping reading journals evaluated with a big, meaningless check. They reveal putting on skits, reenacting some scene in a novel or play whose title they can't recall. One student recounts a month of junior English class in which she and her classmates produced digital short film adaptations of the trial in "The Scarlet Letter."

"Sounds fun," I say to this student, a girl who would not know how to summarize a source or correct a sentence fragment if her life depended on it.

As for the students who did make it to more accelerated English courses, their recollections are a little less disheartening, but only a little. They read Shakespeare, they tell me, usually "Romeo and Juliet," sometimes "Macbeth." They read "Catcher in the Rye" or "Huck Finn," "The Sound and the Fury," a little Melville or Hardy. They read these works and then they talked about them in class discussions or small groups, and then they composed an essay on the subject, received a grade, and moved on to the next masterpiece. Did their exposure to a few of the great works challenge or change them, did it spur them to read more widely or more critically, or did it make them better writers? Occasionally, I guess. Mostly, they seem to recall struggling with comprehension of these classics, feeling as though they just didn't "get it," and for those students who know they will not major in English, does it really matter, they wonder. But not much time is spent pondering the question because, now, thrown into the cauldron of college-level coursework, they have bigger fish to fry. They have professors in every area and every discipline telling them they're going to fail if they don't learn how to write a comprehensible, grammatical and at least marginally organized academic essay.

Was it really so essential that these students read Faulkner? Most of them, frankly, seem to struggle with plain old contemporary prose, the level of writing one might find in, say, the New Yorker. Wouldn't they have been better off, or at least better prepared for the type of college work most will take on (pre-professional, that is), learning to support an argument or use a comma?

I raised these questions with Mark Onuscheck, the chairman of the English department at Evanston Township High School, a large, suburban school with a diverse student body and an excellent reputation, a school that's matriculated more than a few students into my classroom. I asked him how exactly a school like his teaches or tries to teach kids to write, and his initial answers make me start chewing on my nails. He talks about processes and collaboration, about students working together and doing peer review, about how they keep writing folders, and do writing frequently in various, informal ways.

"But the writing they'll need to do in college won't be informal," I say. "And it won't be reviewed by peers but by professors. So what about specific writing and research skills? What about style and grammar?"

Almost instantly, his tone shifts from one of back-patting, pedagogy-speak to something more honest. He laughs. "It's very hard to get a lot of teachers to teach those things, especially grammar. We have such a need to engage students. There's such an emphasis on keeping student enthusiasm going and getting them to want to actively participate. When you start talking about grammar, it's like asking them to eat their vegetables, and no one wants to ask them to do that. They prefer class discussion, which is great but to a certain degree, goes off into the wind."

And of course, there's also the logistical issue, the almost insurmountable challenge of teacher-to-student ratios, miserable ratios that are only going to get more miserable in light of the devastating teacher layoffs taking place around the country. At this particular school, every English teacher teaches five sections of English, and each section has approximately 25 students -- a dream load compared to what teachers at, say, a Chicago public face. But that still means a three-page formal essay assignment would translate into 375 pages of student prose to be read, critiqued and evaluated. The very thought makes a cold, dark dread creep across my soul. It makes my own burden, two sections of composition, 15 students to a class, seem laughably light. And yet, to my more successful, tenured friends, even my numbers seem grueling. One of them says flatly, "I'd teach four sections of lit before I'd do one of comp. Four sections with my hands tied behind my back. It's just too much work."

So says a college professor getting 80 grand a year, summers off and the occasional sabbatical. Hearing this, it's hard to blame the overworked high-school instructors out in the trenches. It's hard to blame anyone for not wanting to teach writing, which, while it might not involve manual labor or public floggings, is hard, grueling work. Often it demands maximum effort for minimum payoff, headache-inducing attention to detail, wheelbarrows full of grading, revision after revision, conferences with teary-eyed students. Who wouldn't prefer to talk about books or stories or poems? Problem is, the hard, grueling work to be done doesn't go away. Ask any college composition teacher.

I wonder at times, is it even worth it? Do students really need to learn to write?

I bounce the question off another friend, Amelia Shapiro, a longtime writing tutor and composition professor who now directs support services at a university in Hawaii.

"I hate that f*cking question," she replies. "I hear it all the time and I hate it. No one asks this question about calculus, but who uses calculus besides math majors? If the question's going to be asked about writing it should be asked about every subject. Even students who aren't going to stay in college need to know how to write. We've all gotten emails or cover letters where we've judged people based on the writing. It's not an essay but it's still communication and people fail at it all the time in profound and meaningful ways."

When I ask her why she thinks there's such resistance to prioritizing and teaching writing, given its numerous applications, given its overlap with critical thinking skills, analytical skills, basic communication skills, she hesitates for a moment, then answers in three words: "It's not fun."

True, but then, teaching (and for that matter, learning) isn't always fun. Changing my kid's dirty diapers isn't fun. Dragging my fat ass onto a treadmill isn't fun. Helping my grandmother "fix" her computer isn't fun. Sometimes we do things not because they're fun but because they're important.

Each year, about this point in the semester, the point when I've decided that I will never teach composition again, that it's just too damned frustrating, that I'd rather be focusing on my novel, or reading my favorite writers, writers who make it look so easy, so seamless -- the point at which I think, life's too short; I'd rather be spending time with my family, or watching cable television, or doing absolutely anything but teaching composition, the point at which I would rather remove my own molars with a pair of garden shears than grade another paper, a student will stop by my office or catch me after class, not to tell me I've changed her life or inspired her to write the great American novel, but that, thanks to me, and the hours she herself has put in, she feels as though, in some small way, her writing has improved, or that she knows what she needs to do to improve, or that she can at least envision a future in which she is a better, more confident and more forceful writer of prose, and I tell her that no matter what, no matter how hard it is, she has to keep plowing ahead, because slow but steady progress as a reward for hard work is one of the few things we can count on in this life -- if we're lucky, that is -- and then I tell myself the same."

Kim Brooks is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train, One Story, Epoch, and other journals. She lives in Chicago and has just finished a novel. More: Kim Brooks

So whadda ya think (irony alert.)

http://www.salon.com/life/education/index.html?story=%2Fmwt%2Ffeature%2F2011%2F05%2F10%2Fdeath_to_high_school_english
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 11061
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2011 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Send 'em to the camps if they don't eat their veg.

Works every time...
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fladude



Joined: 02 Feb 2009
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PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2011 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the real problem is how they teach it. I was talking to the English teacher in the class next to mine, and his approach is all wrong (and I am sure he is teaching it in the "proper" manner). It is not him, it is just the way things are taught. There is too much emphasis placed on allowing the students to develop their own writing style. I know I asked him why he tolerated students writing the way they did. He told me that he would ask them to re-write it if it wasn't right. But I asked him... why? Why have them re-write it? Why not just correct it, mark it off and give it back. Then if they do it again, fail them, or give them a D. Don't have them re-write it 20 times and keep making the same dumb mistakes.

Also, there is too much emphasis placed on the length of the writing assignment (as opposed to the precision of your writing). And there is far too much time spent reading fictional stories which are supposedly very meaningful. If anything, kids in school should be taught technical writing and it should be graded for precision and proper grammar and word use, with little or no emphasis on allowing the students to develop their own style. Then later in life, they can develop their own style, after they learn basic written communication.

Most people will only use basic written communication during their entire life. But we teach them like they are going to be the next Bill Shakespeare. We assign a bunch of abstract literature for them to read and then we ask them to decipher the theme of the literature, as if any of that will help them to put commas in the right place or use proper grammar.

When people do teach composition, again it is still wrong. I wouldn't even bother teaching 1/2 the things they teach. You can learn to write without knowing what a dangling modifier is. You just need to stick with the basics. Technical writing is all that a student really needs to learn. They don't need to learn how to decipher it or how to become a linguist.

Every law student has to take legal writing I and II their first year of law school. That was probably the best writing class I ever took because not once did anyone ever mention theme, style, hidden meaning, or any of that garbage. The only focus was on writing neatly, precisely and correctly. My writing was garbage when I entered that class, but I was 100 percent better when it was over.
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 13859
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2011 9:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear fladude,

In public schools, they may HAVE TO teach it, but not in ESL (at least where I am.) I have a "colleague" who belittles the teaching of ANY grammar/writing
every chance she gets (this is the same "colleague" who asked me one night what I was going to be teaching my ESL 5 (i.e. Intermediate) class that evening. I told her that the unit we were on introduced the present perfect tense. She then said, "You're going to have to explain that to me. What's the present perfect tense?")

What do the students in her classes do? They play games, PERIOD. They never write, they seldom read, and they NEVER hear the word grammar mentioned (and I can see why.)
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
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Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2011 11:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some of the paragraphs in that article are scary. They could apply to situations in Japan, so to hear that this was from the U.S. is unnerving.

Not surprising, though, considering how poorly people write nowadays. It's sometimes very embarrassing to see from English teachers.

As for how to teach the students writing, yes, it's a real pain (here in Japan). Nothing is done in JHS and HS here aside from direct translation of an expression or individual sentence. It's all in preparation for college entrance exams. My Japanese colleagues even say the teaching of Japanese language and writing is not producing results here anymore. Students are just not learning how to write in their own language.

Science profs at my uni (a science uni, by the way) complain as well that students need writing courses for Japanese and English. The writing styles are different, too, so one language course does not fit all.

Sadder for me to see is this: I just read a not-too-old journal article that looked at technical writing by non-native speakers in half a dozen top U.S. engineering university grad schools. Major advisors write 25% of the material for those students' theses, despite knowing there were writing courses on the curriculum and not encouraging the students to take such courses. What a waste of valuable time by an advisor, and what a loss for the student!

fladude wrote:
You can learn to write without knowing what a dangling modifier is. You just need to stick with the basics. Technical writing is all that a student really needs to learn.
I agree with most of what you just posted, but not the above. Dangling modifiers fall into the basics, as far as I'm concerned. I proofread scientific papers all the time, and I'm an editor for scientific and non-scientific journals. It's all technical writing of a sort.

I realize I cut the quote above without the first sentence, which talks about teaching composition. Perhaps you meant that composition = stylistic writing, and that it doesn't require knowledge of dangling modifiers. It just didn't come across that way to me.

Yes, people can learn to write without knowing that little item. There are famous and non-famous writers out there who fall into that category. But for technical work, which is quite different, I'd say learn it.
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MarkM



Joined: 28 Apr 2011
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Location: Lianyungang, China

PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 1:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am going to play the devil's advocate here and question whether grammar should be taught at all. And I will relate this to my experience.

I absolutely hated it at school, back in the days when a lot of emphasis was put on technical correctness of language. But I forgot all of it when I left school. As a business analyst, I did a lot of technical writing during the first 20 years of my career. And then as a business coach I wrote numerous articles about business. I also wrote a book about strategic planning. I used to tell my clients to write as they speak when writing website or advertising copy (this includes starting sentences with conjunctions ...).

So I have been able to develop the language skills I have needed, as and when I have needed them. This is how most people move up the language learning curve. Language is acquired by using it. Pumping bits of it into memory, which they are so fond of doing in Asia, really doesn't help.

English owes its status as the most widely spoken language largely to its flexibility. English lends itself to being used in a dynamic environment and it is always changing. The language is defined by the way people use it. In the greater scheme of things, the significance/relevance of grammar is very limited.

When I left New Zealand they were having a debate on whether text speak should be allowed in school exams (example : CUL8R = see you later). As this is how teenagers communicate with each other, it is argued that it should be acknowledged as a valid element of the language. It is only by doing stuff like this that schools and universities will be able to maintain their relevance in a dynamic and rapidly changing environment.
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JZer



Joined: 16 Jan 2005
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Location: Pittsburgh

PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 2:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MarkM wrote:
I am going to play the devil's advocate here and question whether grammar should be taught at all. And I will relate this to my experience.

I absolutely hated it at school, back in the days when a lot of emphasis was put on technical correctness of language. But I forgot all of it when I left school. As a business analyst, I did a lot of technical writing during the first 20 years of my career. And then as a business coach I wrote numerous articles about business. I also wrote a book about strategic planning. I used to tell my clients to write as they speak when writing website or advertising copy (this includes starting sentences with conjunctions ...).

So I have been able to develop the language skills I have needed, as and when I have needed them. This is how most people move up the language learning curve. Language is acquired by using it. Pumping bits of it into memory, which they are so fond of doing in Asia, really doesn't help.

English owes its status as the most widely spoken language largely to its flexibility. English lends itself to being used in a dynamic environment and it is always changing. The language is defined by the way people use it. In the greater scheme of things, the significance/relevance of grammar is very limited.

When I left New Zealand they were having a debate on whether text speak should be allowed in school exams (example : CUL8R = see you later). As this is how teenagers communicate with each other, it is argued that it should be acknowledged as a valid element of the language. It is only by doing stuff like this that schools and universities will be able to maintain their relevance in a dynamic and rapidly changing environment.


You should read, "You are what you Speak". Robert Lane Greene will tell you that language is not some arbitrary set of rules. It comes from the people and people every century complain how students language skills are deteriorating. The reality is that language is always in flux even if some sticklers prefer the old methods of grammar. Those sticklers will die along with the grammar points that they cling to.
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Insubordination



Joined: 07 Nov 2007
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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 3:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Students don't do their essays until the last possible second. Therefore, the goal is deciding on the minimum number of hours it will take to reach the word-count before the paper is due. That's one reason why these types of assessment tasks are so sloppily written.

Surely wide reading would only improve writing skills, grammar and vocabulary. Learning grammar doesn't have to push aside literature. Brains have a fairly big storage capacity. I disagree that literature is not relevant. School should explore the meaning of life and the universe, not merely produce future taxpayers who can write concise technical writing. Newspeak was concise, as it wot u doin 2nite?

Speaking on behalf of my own country, Australia, I would hazard a guess that many English literature teachers don't have a clue about grammar and punctuation. They avoid teaching it, just like many ESL teachers avoid integrating pronunciation into their classes.

I know that language is constantly changing, but apparently there needs to be a standard form for the written language, which is not to be too easily achieved. This acts as a gatekeeper. Otherwise, everyone would be allowed to participate in all levels of society. What would happen then? Wink


Last edited by Insubordination on Mon May 16, 2011 11:37 am; edited 1 time in total
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wangdaning



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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 4:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the main thing with the students is laziness. This is why a method of simply telling them how to do it doesn't work. They will change it for the one assignment, but ignore it in future ones. Correcting the work and handing it back does very little, the students need to be proofreading and finding out how they messed up, internally.

As far as the article, well, college/university students often lack writing skills. Is it because of their high school teachers? I don't think so. Again, laziness. My university required a college writing class. I should have taken it my first year, as my AP score was a 4 and I needed a 5 to get out of it. I had went through my whole university career without the class. The teacher and I knew it was a joke for me to be in a writing class, as I had passed three years of assessments without it. The other students, however, were struggling. They didn't read the books (I seldom did either but that is not the point), they spent little time outlining their work, and overall just didn't listen to the tutor's advice. Somehow students have come to believe they will pass without doing what is required. No studying, no thinking, just simple laziness will get you through.

I think the part of this article that strikes home to us as teachers is the inability of many students to recognize that they are students. I recently cancelled a class half-way through because the students were not working. For a make-up I asked them all to write 200 words about why they come to class. Sadly, few mentioned a desire to learn. Mostly about obligation.
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artemisia



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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 4:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not a high school English teacher but I thought distinctions were made between transactional writing, such as cover letters, and creative writing. I think with the latter a student should be allowed to express writing in an individual way. The former would involve teaching correct grammar and language appropriate to the form.

Usually the more reading school age children do, the better chance they have of writing well but that's not to say it's not a skill that needs to be taught. Whether it's English literature or ESL, I think time needs to be given to writing in class time and having that monitored with feedback and input by teachers. Too often, it's seen as homework but I know it's not always practical to allocate time for this in ESL/EFL lessons. I think there's a lot of value in writing and rewriting a text to fine-tune it - it's what I did at university with essays. There doesn't need to be a new topic each time. It's rare that you write something really well and with proficiency for what is essentially the first draft.
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MarkM



Joined: 28 Apr 2011
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Location: Lianyungang, China

PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 4:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wangdaning wrote:
I think the main thing with the students is laziness. ... Somehow students have come to believe they will pass without doing what is required. No studying, no thinking, just simple laziness will get you through. ....

Mmmm ... If students are not engaged and not much learning is happening, blaming the students is a cop-out IMO. You really need to reflect on the teaching process and think of ways to make it more productive. Ideally, students should be able to link new information to their prior knowledge. Alternatively, they have to see the relevance of it. If you can't achieve this with the material you are teaching, you have to somehow turn learning it into a game. The students will engage with the game and this will result in the desired learning.

The problem with grammar is that it is confusing and uninspiring. The benefits are also hard to see for students. This is why they see it as a waste of time. Getting students to read books or engage in writing/speaking exercises is a far more productive use of their time and energy.
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
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Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 4:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MarkM wrote:
I am going to play the devil's advocate here and question whether grammar should be taught at all. And I will relate this to my experience.

I absolutely hated it at school, back in the days when a lot of emphasis was put on technical correctness of language. But I forgot all of it when I left school.
Just for comparison, I had grammar lessons from elementary school all through HS. I loved it, and after I graduated I remembered it all. Perhaps hating it is linked to forgetting it.


Quote:
As a business analyst, I did a lot of technical writing during the first 20 years of my career. And then as a business coach I wrote numerous articles about business. I also wrote a book about strategic planning. I used to tell my clients to write as they speak when writing website or advertising copy (this includes starting sentences with conjunctions ...).

So I have been able to develop the language skills I have needed, as and when I have needed them.
Sadly, that is the way most people learn to hone their writing skills, but it would be easier on them if they actually learned more in the very beginning (and liked it).

Have proofed plenty of marketing copy in my day, as well as lots of technical scientific stuff. They are 2 completely different animals. You might be able to get away with some sales and marketing copy by writing as you speak, but rarely will you get away with that in a scientific journal. Editors are the gatekeepers to publishing.
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fladude



Joined: 02 Feb 2009
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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 8:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

johnslat wrote:
Dear fladude,

In public schools, they may HAVE TO teach it, but not in ESL (at least where I am.) I have a "colleague" who belittles the teaching of ANY grammar/writing
every chance she gets (this is the same "colleague" who asked me one night what I was going to be teaching my ESL 5 (i.e. Intermediate) class that evening. I told her that the unit we were on introduced the present perfect tense. She then said, "You're going to have to explain that to me. What's the present perfect tense?")

What do the students in her classes do? They play games, PERIOD. They never write, they seldom read, and they NEVER hear the word grammar mentioned (and I can see why.)


I'm a bit mixed here. While I certainly believe that writing should be about WRITING, I'm not sure if its really important that you be able to identify a present perfect tense. I mean I don't know a lot of grammar terms myself, but I know how to write correctly, and this was knocked into my head with a hammer in law school. We never learned grammar though, but just had a really mean person teaching the class who corrected our writing. In a way, this would require teaching writing as a craft or an art form though, rather than as a science. I don't know why modern high school education has to try and turn itself into a science.

I assume this trend is the either the result of hiring too many mediocre administrators who don't understand how to write, or it is a general lack of self confidence amongst teachers, who believe that they must constantly justify their actions numerically.

It may sound strange but you can learn to write correctly without knowing the vocabulary behind what you are doing. This was in fact how people learned to write for thousands of years. And for some people the vocabulary just confuses them. I admit that I am one such person.

To me the focus should be on doing a lot of technical writing until kids have mastered it. Focus on keeping the writing short and simple and awarding students who convey their ideas the most succinctly (which is absolutely not done in high school). Don't reward the kid who wrote 3 pages of gibberish just because they did a lot of work. Then and only then move on to something else. This would require that they write at least 3 days a week.
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Teacher in Rome



Joined: 09 Jul 2003
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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 9:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that good writing skills are fundamental - but that in order to write persuasively (think CV, covering letter, marketing brochure etc) or clearly and accurately (technical writing etc) you need to know the rules of standard grammar or punctuation; composition and text organisation, argument development and so on. These things don't necessarily come about through reading and discussing texts, but through practice and feedback.

But literature has its place, too. There's an interesting article on BNET about the skills humanities grads offer business that scientific / engineering grads can't. Here's an extract:

Quote:
There are plenty of MBAs and even Ph.Ds in economics, chemistry, or computer science, in the corporate ranks. Intellectual wattage is not lacking. It’s the right intellectual wattage that’s hard to find. They simply don’t have enough people with the right backgrounds.

This is because our educational systems focus on teaching science and business students to control, predict, verify, guarantee, and test data. It doesn’t teach how to navigate “what if” questions or unknown futures…. People trained in the humanities who study Shakespeare’s poetry, or Cezanne’s paintings, say, have learned to play with big concepts, and to apply new ways of thinking to difficult problems that can’t be analyzed in conventional ways.

Exactly what valuable intellectual skills do humanities grads offer? Golsby-Smith outlines four: complexity and ambiguity, innovation, communication and presentation, and customer and employee satisfaction.


The link is here: http://www.bnet.com/blog/entry-level/need-innovation-hire-humanities-grads/4474?tag=mantle_skin;content
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 13859
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 2:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear fladude,

"It may sound strange but you can learn to write correctly without knowing the vocabulary behind what you are doing. This was in fact how people learned to write for thousands of years. And for some people the vocabulary just confuses them. I admit that I am one such person. "

No, it doesn't sound strange. What sounds strange to me is an ESL teacher not knowing the term. And what follows (at least in this case) - namely that the ESL teacher is clueless about when that tense should be used.

How can one teach if one doesn't know what one is (supposedly) teaching?

Regards,
John
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