Re: Grammar vs Content

Subject: Re: Grammar vs Content
From: "Matthew B. Hicks" <matt -at- UNIDATA -dot- UCAR -dot- EDU>
Date: Fri, 10 Feb 1995 12:34:35 -0700

On Fri, 10 Feb 1995, Tim Giles wrote:

> Do we teach students to think/write and ignore
> grammar, or do we ignore the thinking aspect of writing and teach them
> grammatical competence? My technical writing students, who are technology
> majors at Georgia Southern University, always want to know if grammar
> counts, and I tell them that it does, and furthermore that grammar skills are
> something they can learn in college where they have access to English
> teachers.

This makes me angry. College teachers/professors shouldn't have to waste
time teaching grammar; grammar should be thoroughly taught in elementary
school. Certainly it's a major failing of our public schools that so many
students are allowed to graduate without being able to write a coherent
sentence. It's a travesty.

Growing up in a small rural town back in the mid-70s, I actually had a
somewhat old-fashioned education. I spent about half a year diagramming
sentences, and in general, I remember grammar (and spelling) being stressed
in most of my classes. I can't say what it did for my classmates, but I think
it helped lay the foundation for the quality of the writing I do today.

I've seen many benefits from being able to clearly express myself in
writing, not the least of which is a decent job. I was speaking with my
boss recently about the value of being able to write well. I recalled
that when I took essay tests in college, I would frequently receive
better grades than my classmates even though the content of our answers
was almost the same. The major difference was the clarity of my sentence
and paragraph structures; graders, working under time constraints, didn't
have to decipher my answers.

Matt Hicks, Tech. Writer, Unidata * I may not agree with what you
Boulder, CO, (303)497-8676, ******* say, but I'll defend to the
matt -at- unidata -dot- ucar -dot- edu ************* death my right to mock you.

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