Re: Grammar vs Content

Subject: Re: Grammar vs Content
From: Marguerite Krupp <mkrupp -at- WORLD -dot- STD -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 13 Feb 1995 09:21:42 +0001

Matthew Hicks wrote:

"College teachers shouldn't have to waste time teaching grammar. Grammar
should be thoroughly taught in elementary school."

I agree that students in elementary school should have a thorough
grounding in grammar. The operative word here is "should." Even those of
us who Do have that background, however, can use a refresher course.
Remember that grammar, like the rest of language, is not entirely static.
Many of us learned by ear or by rote, without knowing the rationale
behind what we learned.

As a college technical writing teacher and workshop leader, I find that
grammar courses are not a waste of time. Students bring up questions that
have bothered them for years, and we often have some lively discussions.
Is it directly relevant to technical communication? I think so, since
one of the goals we strive for is clear, concise communication. If we
teach organization, word selection, and other tools, why not grammar
(usage and punctuation, particularly)?

I usually try to make the point that grammar is a set of rules; usage is
the application of those rules. If you know your tools, you'll be able to
build good documents more easily; and grammar is even more important a
tool than any word processor or graphics package.


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